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Women’s sexual dysfunction

Although many sources refer to women’s ‘sexual dysfunction’, it is rare to find a definition of what is supposed to be sexually ‘normal’ for women in the first place.

Sex involves both reproduction and sexual pleasure. So in reproductive terms, a man could be described as sexually dysfunctional if he cannot impregnate a female (male orgasm required) and a woman if she cannot conceive (female orgasm not required).

Enjoyment of sexual pleasure certainly includes sexual arousal and orgasm for men. However, many women are unconcerned about a lack of orgasm during sex.

Men can usually enjoy orgasm through masturbation alone, masturbation with a partner, oral sex or intercourse. Many women limit their sexual experiences to ‘love-making’ despite the fact that intercourse provides insufficient clitoral stimulation for orgasm.

Even if a woman is willing to try more direct ways of stimulating her clitoris during sex with a partner, the fact is that she is unlikely to be aroused enough for clitoral stimulation to lead to orgasm. Many women are only able to orgasm during masturbation alone because this allows them to generate sufficient arousal for orgasm by focusing on their sexual fantasies.

Around 10% of women are estimated to be ‘an-orgasmic’, that is, they never experience orgasm ever. Women who only orgasm from masturbation are referred to as ‘pre-orgasmic’. The number of men who cannot orgasm during sex throughout their lives is negligible whereas, for women, the figure is around 50% (including an-orgasmic and pre-orgasmic women).

“Only about half of all the women who have told me about their sexual experiences say they usually have orgasms during lovemaking. The others either do not have orgasms, or find that they usually have an orgasm only when masturbating.” (p80 Woman’s Experience of Sex 1983)

Lack of female orgasm is not a sexual dysfunction

It is unreasonable to categorise such a high percentage of women as having a sexual dysfunction. So there is nothing abnormal about either an-orgasmic or pre-orgasmic women. Such women do not have a ‘problem’ at all. They simply need to accept that this is the way things are for many women who hope for orgasm in their sexual relationships.

Even these statistics for women’s sexual performance are likely to be optimistic because women who respond to surveys or talk to others about sex are already in a minority. Many other women justify their sexual relationship in terms of loving their partner or having children rather than as a means of enjoying their own sexual arousal and orgasm.

From Shere Hite’s survey (1976) 30% of women claimed to be able to orgasm regularly from intercourse alone. This is quite amazing when you think that it is equivalent to 30% of men boasting that they prefer to orgasm without stimulating their penis.

An equally amazing 44% said that they masturbate during intercourse. At least this is a more realistic way to achieve orgasm but means that almost every other woman masturbates herself during sex. How likely is this? Well given that very few women masturbate at all and even fewer succeed with the same techniques with a partner, I am guessing not very likely.

Only 26% of the women surveyed were brave enough to admit that they could not orgasm during intercourse at all (only through oral sex, masturbation alone or that they never orgasm by any means). As Rachel Swifts points out:

“Furthermore it’s a pretty safe guess that the statistics are worse than that. Because if it’s a volunteer sample, the women most likely to come forward and be candid about sex are likely to be those who are also successful with sex. And while many people might be tempted to pretend they do orgasm when they don’t, few are likely to pretend that they don’t when they do. That’s about as probable as a woman claiming she weighs ten stone when she actually weighs nine.” (p19 Women’s Pleasure 1993)

Excerpt from Ways Women Orgasm (ISBN 978-0956-894700)