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Married 26 Year Old
Has Never Experienced Orgasm

QUESTION: I'm quite embarrassed to say but, I have never experienced an orgasm before and I am 26 years old and have 2 children. My husband thinks he is to blame for this. I have no idea why it is important to the act of "making love". I do not understand why there is so much pressure for people to have orgasms.

My husband says that he is sorry that I don't feel the pleasure like he does when we make love. But there have been a few times, I started feeling something (like my cares were being lifted away-a good feeling) and our lovemaking was over. He had climaxed and all was said and done.

He tells me that it is all in the subconsciousness of my brain. He wonders if it had to do with an abusive relationship I was in prior to our marriage that might have made me feel "scared to relax".

My husband and I will have been married for 2 years this coming March. He's just upset that I cannot enjoy sex like he does in all the time we have been married. And I'm upset that I cannot do this for him.

Are there women out there that do not experience orgasms? Or am I the only one? I want to make my husband happy but if I cannot experience them, then I guess I cant. I'm just really confused about all this.

ANSWER: Consult your gynecologist to determine whether there is any physiological reason for decreased sexual sensitivity. Women sometimes experience difficulty achieving orgasm due to adhesions of the clitoris. If the physical exam shows no irregularity, consider exploring your sensuality on your own (through masturbation), as well as in sexual relations with your husband.

Since you have not experienced orgasm, it may be beneficial to consider exploring your own body to discover and develop your physiological pathway to orgasm. Lonnie Barbach's book "For Yourself" may prove helpful to your quest. Complete privacy to explore and discover what increases your sensual pleasure will allow you to better know yourself. This self-knowledge will empower you to teach your husband what you like, as well as share new experiences of one another. Exploring on your own reduces any "performance" anxiety that has built up in the marriage while simultaneously serves to desensitize sexual inhibitions that might be blocking your enjoyment.

Women are often brought up to experience their sexuality passively, or through a man. I believe it to be a critical part of a woman's development to know how to please herself ( by bringing herself to orgasm) before sharing this very special experience. By doing so, she comes to marriage with a stronger sense of who she is as an independent sexual being. Few men experience their first orgasm through an encounter with a female. Cultural expectation is for boys to masturbate early in adolescence. Men usually learn how their genitals work before sharing themselves with a woman. Yet, girls are not expected to masturbate early and are subtly encouraged to explore their budding sexuality only in relationship to a man.

It is never too late to consider developing an individual relationship to your sexuality. Certainly, your past abusive relationship may have contributed to difficulty in "letting go", particularly if this was your first sexual experience. Learning to produce your own orgasm through masturbation may result in a significant level of healing from previous abuse. Taking steps to develop a more intimate knowledge of your body allows you to bring your sexuality forward to your present partner. This dynamic can spell the difference between feeling actively interested in pursuing sex or merely passively reactive to your husband's requests. By reclaiming your own sexuality, you will be more likely to feel it possible to "invite" your husband to have sex, instead of feeling pressured about your sexual performance in the marriage.

The good news is that you enjoy sexual relations with your husband. And your pelvic blood flow has been increased through pregnancy and childbearing, which can augment your capacity to experience sensual feelings in this area. Yet, it is important that you decide when you are ready to explore this issue, rather than feel pressured to do so by your husband's feelings of inadequacy.

Take stock of your desires. Consider your own curiosity about orgasm and whether you would like to experience it! If your answer is "yes" take opportunities to explore and create sexual orgasm on your own and with your husband, but do so at your own pace.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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