I'm not proud to admit it, but I faked orgasms with my last boyfriend for two years. I'm starting to pursue a new relationship. I want to figure out why I did this, how common this is for women, and how I can prevent doing in the future. Can you help?
Your sex life can be a source of tremendous pleasure and fulfillment, but can also become a source of discontent and unhappiness if there are parts of the relationship that are not going well. For many women, the feeling of having to fake an orgasm can be a source of guilt, shame or disappointment.
First, it is important to keep in mind that only about 30 per cent of women can regularly experience an orgasm through intercourse. A much higher percentage can experience orgasm through a combination of manual/oral stimulation from their partner or masturbation.
It may be that you need to have open communication with your next partner about the ways in which you are most likely to orgasm, and work to actively create these situations. Sex is one of the most difficult topics for many couples to discuss.
Focusing discussions on the things that you like and enjoy (rather than speaking about what doesn't work for you) can be a positive way to approach these conversations.
About 10-20 per cent of women report never experiencing an orgasm. This can be related to a number of factors, many of which are psychologically based. A range of past experiences, including abusive and traumatic sexual experiences can contribute. If this is the case, seek out professional help from someone who is trained in sexual therapy and/or trauma.
Many women are able to overcome these barriers with the support of a caring, trusting and patient therapist and partner.
If you have been able to experience orgasms in the past, you may want to ask yourself the following questions to better understand what factors contributed for you:
- Did lack of emotional intimacy/connection to your partner play a role?
- Was there a lack of trust (emotionally or physically) with your partner?
- Did you feel a pull to please your partner (and have him feel you were satisfied, even if you weren't)?
- Did you (and/or your partner) put his sexual needs above yours?
- Did you feel you were disappointing your partner by not being able to orgasm, hence feeling pressure to fake it?
- Do you enjoy sex?
Answering these questions can help you understand what some of your barriers were, and can help you to think about how to approach your next intimate relationship.
In addition to the above, other contributing factors can include: ongoing/unaddressed stressors in your life; untreated depression or anxiety; physical health problems (e.g., chronic pain); or side effects of medications (e.g., reduced libido is one of the most commonly reported side effects of antidepressant medications).
Reading more about sexuality, exploring ways that you can orgasm on your own (e.g., through masturbation), seeking professional help, and being mindful of the type of partner you select may all be important ways that you can move forward to build a more fulfilling sex life.
Send psychologist Joti Samra your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.
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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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