The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5)* classifies Female Orgasmic Disorder when an individual consistently and repeatedly is unable to have an orgasm after she’s been sexually stimulated and aroused.

The DSM-5 describes the person with the disorder as having an extreme change in reaching an orgasm. Orgasms may be reached much less than in the past or have stopped completely. Some women have experienced the disorder after having had an enjoyable sex life.

An exact reason for the disorder in unknown, but it’s been related to problems with a partner, distress, depression, different medications and certain long-term illnesses.

While some women enjoy a lot of sex, others don’t need to have too much sexual activity in their lives. The sex drive in women can change in highs and lows for reasons, such as age, the stage of the partnership, extreme lifestyle changes—pregnancy or divorce. If the sex drive or Female Orgasmic Disorder is affecting the enjoyment of sexual activity, there are many treatments, lifestyle changes and medications that may be helpful in addressing the issue.

The most prevalent of sexual disorders in women, it is estimated that nearly 30 percent of women meet the criteria for the disorder.

*The DSM-5 is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Causes of Female Orgasmic Disorder DSM-5 302.73 F52.31

To be diagnosed with Female Orgasmic Disorder, the problem must be apparent for a minimum of six months. It must not be connected to another physical or mental problem.

The DSM-5 lists some of the factors for the disorder, including:

  • Difficulties in a relationship (arguments, abuse).
  • Having a partner who is undergoing an illness, has health problems or has sexual difficulties.
  • Stress.
  • Past sexual abuse.
  • Low opinion of the body.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Religious ideas about sex.
  • Low academic level.
  • Having a health problem.
  • Particular types of medication, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics.
  • Spinal cord lesions.
  • Chronic illnesses.
  • Damage to the pelvic blood vessels.
  • Substance abuse problems.

Genetics is also believed to be a factor in Female Orgasmic Disorder.

Four kinds of orgasmic dysfunctions exist, including primary anorgasmia, where the individual has never had an orgasm, and secondary anorgasmia where there is a problem reaching an orgasm in spite of having experienced one before. In situational anorgasmia, which is the type that women experience the most frequently, an orgasm can only be reached in certain situations (such as oral sex). General anorgasmia is where an individual doesn’t reach orgasm in any condition even in spite of being aroused.

Treatment for Female Orgasmic Disorder DSM-5 302.73 F52.31

There are a variety of treatments that are known to be effective in Female Orgasmic Disorder. When people are experiencing problems with their relationships, couples therapy may help. The individual and significant other work with a therapist to learn how to communicate better, listen well and find ways to work through problems. When there’s a lack of emotional closeness between the partners, there may exist a lower sexual desire, and couples therapy is recommended.

When the sexual activity becomes boring or remains the same each time, therapy is a secure and safe place to be able to discuss it. Women who are embarrassed to talk about the intimate details or types of sexual techniques may find the setting is more comfortable for them.

In individual therapy, the partner in a relationship should be part of the therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is ideal for the person to help lessen the symptoms that cause stress and anxiety. In addition to therapy, hormonal treatment may be used for women whose Female Orgasmic Disorder has begun while experiencing or following menopause.

Facts about the Inability to Reach Orgasm/Anorgasmia

Anorgasmia is when a woman can’t reach orgasm, and it’s believed that 10 percent of women experience it. There are some fictitious beliefs about female orgasms that are interesting to learn about.

  • Many times people think that having an orgasm is like experiencing something that moves the earth. The movie, “When Harry Met Sally,” where Sally was pretending to have an orgasm while sitting across the table from Billy Crystal shows this clearly. While many women think that’s the type of orgasm every woman experiences every time, they should be aware that it’s not the case. While some women feel their pelvic muscles contract, others only find they’re aroused by feelings of relaxation and contentment.
  • Only about one-third of women actually reach orgasm during intercourse. Some individuals need extra stimulation, and others have never experienced an orgasm during sexual activity, but they’re able to through oral stimulation.
  • It’s a fiction that women have to have an orgasm to be able to enjoy sex. In fact, there are many women who are completely happy with the closeness and physical intimacy of sex and don’t always have an orgasm.

Suggestions to Enhance Sexual Activity When Experiencing Female Orgasmic Disorder

There are ways to relax and reduce stress, as well as enhance your sexual experience. These tips may be used in combination with therapy.

  • Instead of trying too hard to reach orgasm, try, instead, to enjoy the experience and the closeness with a partner. Sometimes when trying to reach a goal, the stress people put on themselves cancels out finding enjoyment and reaching orgasm.
  • If you’re able to discuss what you’d like when it comes to sex, inform your partner. While you may think he should know what you like, that isn’t the case. By letting him know, he’ll be able to help fulfill your sexual desires.
  • Make sure to tell your partner when he’s doing something you find enjoyable. He’ll know for future times that it gave you pleasure.
  • Ease up on yourself. If you don’t reach orgasm or only do so sometimes, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It also doesn’t help to beat yourself up, because it won’t lead to better sex.
  • Just because your partner is finished, it doesn’t mean you are, too. Let him know if you’re fully aroused and would like to continue. If you feel like you’re able to instruct him on what to do, especially if you feel you may have an orgasm, fill him in.