Orgasm anxiety in women is totally normal

Growing up, I heard so many stories from women telling me that it wasn’t until well into their marriages that they had their first orgasm, and that often women give themselves orgasms by masturbating during sex. However, I’ve also heard plenty of guys brag about making girls cum and yet also know of the prevalence of the orgasm gap. Research has proven that female orgasm anxiety is a real thing, and we need to talk about it more.

Heterosexual sex is still male-dominated, whether you’re in a loving relationship or not; let’s face it, usually, once the guy’s finished, sex has finished. This is known as the orgasm gap: where sex finishes once the man has orgasmed, despite the woman having not climaxed. And there’s often no questioning it. Orgasms for women in heterosexual relationships are a lot less common then they are for their male partners, and it’s completely understandable that some women might be afraid of it. I mean, what do we do with this feeling? For a lot of women, they forget about their own pleasure and merely try to please the man, “Is he enjoying this?”, “What if he doesn’t cum?”, “Is he even hard?”. These distractions are often why so many women fake it.

Performance anxiety has always been related to men, but female performance anxiety (FPA) is also very present. It can cause a fear of orgasming and prevent sexual enjoyment as your mind is too focused on whirring questions: “What do I look like naked?”, “Do I smell all right down there?” “What will my face look like when it happens?”, “Am I taking too long to climax?” Your mind is too occupied with how you appear to your partner and this distracts you from the pleasure, thus you are too anxious to actually reach climax. Such anxieties prevent us from enjoying the moment and being present in our bodies, and can even cause crying and other defence mechanisms.

In other cases, many women feel undeserving of the feeling and fear it as it makes them feel vulnerable, especially as there’s the stigma of pleasing your partner. This can be a result of abusive relationships and sexual violence wherein women believe that they are undeserving of the feeling. Others worry about letting their guard down and looking silly. Likewise, if you’re new to it, the build-up can be a weird sensation and often this is scary – a tip for this is finishing through masturbation first.

Clinical sexologist Dr Patti Britton says that due to your brain being in fight-or-flight mode when you’re anxious, “you’re really at war with your ability to experience pleasure.” Though relatable, this is something that angers me, as the orgasm gap is too common an occurrence and is widely accepted.

Orgasm anxiety prevents many women from reaching their climax and can result in various preventions of doing so; in these cases, it’s not that you can’t get there, it’s that you won’t allow yourself to. As women, we’ve been taught not to demand, so how can we accept this feeling?

If you’ve ever experienced orgasm anxiety, just know that you’re not alone and don’t feel embarrassed, it’s natural and there are plenty of ways around it. Communicate how you’re feeling to your partner and do some research on how you can close the orgasm gap and overcome the anxiety together. You’ll get there one day.

Tilly O’Brien

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