In both genders, orgasm difficulties are fairly common—and almost always curable.
In partner sex, some people—both men and women—take quite a while to work their way up to orgasm. Sometimes, it’s situational. If you’re drunk, fatigued, in pain, taking antidepressant medication, or pre-occupied by emotional stress, it may take longer than usual. But some people usually or always take a while, which may engender self-doubt and relationship conflicts.
If you’re the one who takes “forever:”
•Cheer up. You can orgasm. Most difficulties can be resolved with do-it-yourself approaches. If they don’t provide sufficient benefit, sex therapy almost always resolves the problem.
•Don’t apologize. Re-organize. Apologizing acknowledges the issue but does nothing to cure it. Instead, take a close look at your life and lovemaking, and try to pinpoint factors that might impair your ability to have orgasms.
•Use a lubricant. Saliva, vegetable oils, and commercial lubricants enhance the pleasure of sensual touch and often hasten orgasm. Commercial lubes are available over-the-counter at pharmacies. Look near the condoms.
•Correct misconceptions. Many men and women believe that women “should” climax during intercourse. However, a wealth of research shows that only 25 percent of women are reliably orgasmic solely from vaginal intercourse. Three-quarters of women need direct clitoral caresses: gentle, extended, well-lubricated hand massages and/or cunnilingus. (Gentlemen: The clitoris is located an inch or two above the vaginal opening beneath the top junction of the vaginal lips.) Several recent studies agree that a prime reason why women have orgasm difficulties is that their lovers don’t provide enough clitoral massage and cunnilingus.
•Limit alcohol. The first drink is disinhibiting. Alcohol makes people more likely to say “yes” to sexual invitations. But subsequent drinks depress the nervous system and may inhibit orgasm. As people age, alcohol-induced orgasm inhibition becomes increasingly likely. If orgasms are a problem for you, limit yourself to one drink within an hour or so of intercourse. Narcotics, anti-anxiety medications, and other mood-altering drugs may also sabotage orgasm. Do you take any drugs that might inhibit orgasm? Search the Internet and ask your physician and/or pharmacist. If so, ask your doctor if you might switch to another medication.
•Taking an SSRI? Ask for Wellbutrin. SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are the most popular class of antidepressants. They include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, Cipralex, Seroxat, Luvox, and Lustral. The SSRIs are notorious for causing sexual side effects, notably difficulty with orgasm. If you take one, ask your physician if you might switch to Wellbutrin (bupropion), an equally effective antidepressant with considerably less risk of sexual side effects.