An estimated 10% to 40% of women have trouble reaching orgasm, experts say. But what factors contribute to this problem? New research suggests that arousal, distress, and latency to orgasm are important factors to consider.
Researchers from Valparaiso University in Indiana, USA noted that the criteria used to diagnose orgasmic disorder in women can be unclear. Through an online survey, they sought to learn more about contributing factors.
Eight hundred sixty-six women completed the survey. They ranged in age from 18 to 60, but their average age was 23. Four hundred sixteen women had difficulty with orgasm during partnered sex, defined as having problems at least half the time. The authors called this group the “female orgasmic disorder (FOD) symptom group.” The remaining 450 women, who had few – if any – problems reaching orgasm, served as the control group.
Among the women who had trouble with orgasm, almost half said they also had moderate to severe problems with arousal; 57% said they felt moderate to severe distress over their situation.
However, women in the FOD symptom group and the control group rated the quality of their relationships in similar ways, suggesting that women with orgasmic difficulties and related distress could still be satisfied with their overall relationship even if their sexual relationship was not as satisfying.
The authors also considered orgasm latency time – the time necessary to reach orgasm and pointed out a “mismatch” between men and women. Some women in the FOD group needed more than 20 minutes to climax. “Given that men show an average ejaculatory latency during intercourse of approximately 5 to 7 minutes, the mismatch between probable arousal levels achieved within 5 to 7 minutes and orgasmic probability between the sexes during intercourse is evident,” they wrote.
Older women (over age 30) tended to have fewer problems reaching orgasm than their younger counterparts. The authors suggested that this finding could be related to greater sexual experience of older women, but added that studies of women between the ages of 40 and 70 would be helpful.
They also acknowledged that partnered sex was the focus of this study, so it was unknown whether women had trouble with orgasm during masturbation. It was also not known whether the respondents considered partnered sex to be intercourse only or if other forms of stimulation were included in their definition. Finally, sexual orientation was not taken into account, so it was not clear whether being gay or straight could affect the results.
The study was published online in June in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Rowland, David L., PhD and Tiffany N. Kolba, PhD
“Understanding Orgasmic Difficulty in Women”
(Full-text. Published online: June 23, 2016)