Disorders of Orgasm and Sexual Pain

What is it you are experiencing?

What are Disorders of Orgasm and Sexual Pain?

Are you experiencing the desire and arousal of sexual activity, but finding that it is hard to experience an orgasm? You are not alone. There are a few disorders which may help explain the symptoms you have been experiencing. Each of these disorders may be lifelong or acquired.

Female Orgasmic Disorder: This disorder, also known as anorgasmia, is often characterized by the reduction in intensity, delay or lack of orgasm after having reached the excitement phase of the sexual cycle (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 368). This disorder is not diagnosed after only experiencing these symptoms after one sexual encounter. In order for you to be diagnosed with female orgasmic disorder, you must experience these symptoms with at least 75% of sexual encounters. It is important to know that it is common for women to have difficulty reaching an orgasm from time to time, however if it is experienced more frequently you may have female orgasmic disorder (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 368).

Early Ejaculation Disorder: This disorder is the most common orgasmic disorder seen in men and is characterized by ejaculation after very little sexual stimulation and before it was wished for. Similar to female orgasmic disorder, these symptoms can often be seen time to time during sexual intercourse without the individual actually having early ejaculation disorder. To be diagnosed, you must experience premature ejaculation within 1 minute of penetration, before it was wished for, with at least 75% of sexual encounters. This disorder is quite common in men, with about 21% of the population experiencing issues with early ejaculation (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 369).

Delayed Ejaculation Disorder: This disorder is opposite early ejaculation disorder, and can be viewed as the male version of female orgasmic disorder. Delayed ejaculation disorder is characterized by the delay or lack of orgasm following the excitement phase of the sexual cycle. This disorder, much like the others, must show symptoms with at least 75% of sexual encounters in order to be diagnosed. This disorder is much less common, with about 3% of the male population diagnosed. It is often seen that men who have delayed ejaculation disorder are unable to orgasm during intercourse, however they are able to ejaculate from oral or manual stimulation (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 369).

Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder: This disorder is one that is most commonly seen in women and is characterized by pain or muscle tightening during sexual intercourse over the course of 6 months. Women may experience shallow or deep pain when the penis is inserted or deeply penetrating. You may also experience pain during vaginal examinations or when inserting a tampon. There are various factors that can account for why this occurs, including dryness due to medications, infection, irritation or injury, or tumors (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 369). Women can also experience involuntary muscle contractions in the outer portion of the vagina when being penetrated. This muscle tighten is seen in 5-17% of women, and can often occur even from the though of vaginal insertion (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 370). These conditions together make up genito-pelvic pain and penetration disorder.

What are the Causes?

Disorders of orgasm and sexual pain can be caused by various factors both biological and psychological. These include the following:

  • History of sexual abuse or rape
  • Boredom in sexual activity
  • Prescription drugs (often seen in depression medications)
  • Hormonal disorders or changes in hormones (such as in menopause)
  • Fatigue or stress
  • Endometriosis (for pelvic pain)
  • Other medical conditions that affect the nerves to the pelvis (multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, etc.) (White, 2014)

Myths of Disorders of Orgasms and Sexual Pain

Common myths of these disorders revolves around the same two ideas:

  1. Women can achieve orgasms with penetration alone.
  2. Men should be able to last longer.

These are often reasons given and believed by many, which ignore the possible disorder of orgasm. It is important that you understand there is more to it than just performing sexual intercourse. When psychological and biological factors get in the way (as mentioned above), it can create a disorder in which orgasms are hard to attain. For more information on these myths, please visit https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/orgasmic-disorders-introduction-and-myths/.

How Can I Get Help?

If you feel you or someone you know are experiencing these signs and symptoms, it is important that you talk with your doctor about treatment options. They will be able to diagnose you, as well as set you up with a treatment plan. This could include medication to help relieve pain, biological therapy, or sex therapy.


Benuto, L. (2009). Organsmic Disorders . Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/orgasmic-disorders-introduction-and-myths/.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal Psychology, 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

White, C. D. (2014). Orgasmic Dysfunction. NIH. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001953.htm.