During adolescence, I read books that gave me both sexual knowledge and an insight into eroticism. So that even before I had sex for the first time, I had the impression that sex would be sensationally pleasurable. Erotic fiction showed women enjoying the same sexual arousal and easy orgasm during sex as men.
I learnt about female masturbation from books. I never felt any compulsion to masturbate so it was simply curiosity that motivated me. When I was seventeen, I found that I could become aroused by imagining a sexy scenario (whilst lying in bed contemplating sleep) and then I discovered orgasm by pushing my fingers against my vulva and down towards my clitoris in a gentle massaging rhythm.
I met my first boyfriend in the South of France. David was a chef from Liverpool and at twenty-two, four years older than me, he had plenty of sexual experience. Sadly, losing my virginity was severely disappointing because absolutely nothing happened. When I remarked that I had felt very little (in fact a complete lack of arousal during sex) David replied that other virgins had said the same thing.
Pleasing my partner was easy and since none of it moved me in the least, I resigned myself to the fact that our sex life focused on his sexual arousal and orgasm. Back in the UK we lived together for two years. Unfortunately, we never talked about sex so whenever David pressed and I found it difficult to say “no” I offered the minimum: basically missionary style intercourse-to-male-orgasm every time.
Accepting a lack of orgasm during sex (only because I had to)
Six months after we split up, I met an Italian boy called Alfredo. At twenty-one, although I was resigned to a lack of orgasm during sex, I found the prospect of a sexual relationship exciting. Alfredo was good with his hands and he succeeded in arousing me through clitoral stimulation. This fuelled the hope that I might one day learn how to orgasm during sex.
Later the same year, I met Peter and we fell in love. Despite my reluctance to become involved in a sexual relationship, I accepted that sex accompanies any intimate relationship with a man. There was an almost inevitable cycle that once started would naturally end in sex. Simply being affectionate with a man was enough to lead him on (stimulate his need for orgasm).
As with my earlier sexual relationships, I was open about the fact that sex failed to arouse me. Peter was keen to try but my body seemed to be inert to any stimulation. I continued to be severely disappointed but there was nothing I could do about it. I read sex manuals galore but all the indications were that adults of both sexes naturally find sex mutually rewarding.
Rather than carry on in ignorance, we went along to relationship therapists early on. They used the book ‘Treat yourself to Sex’ by Paul Brown & Margot Faulderby, which suggested sensual massage and foreplay but this did not improve my levels of sexual arousal. We ended the sessions none the wiser and I put on hold any ambition of finding an answer to my ‘problem’.
Fifteen years later, our relationship hit rock bottom. At 35 I was masterminding a household of three young children, a daily nanny and a live-in au-pair while my partner and I both worked in full-time careers often travelling abroad. In addition my partner felt I should be orgasmic during sex. No wonder we are called the ‘have it all’ generation! I resolved to visit a sex clinic.
After five hours of talking to their consultant psychologist, he concluded that there was nothing wrong with either of us. His therapy focused on physical stimulation techniques but, frankly, after being sexually active for over fifteen years, I could not see how any sexual position, however unusual, was going to increase my sexual arousal sufficiently to enable me to orgasm.