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What can cause orgasm problems in women?

Causes of orgasm problems in women can be physical or psychological and include:

  • not being stimulated sufficiently
  • worrying about sexual performance
  • mood disorders, such as depression
  • problems with physical health
  • lack of knowledge or fear of sex
  • a previous traumatic sexual experience
  • problems in the relationship
  • the menopause

When can orgasm problems start?

Orgasm problems can be:

  • primary: a woman has never had an orgasm
  • secondary: she has had orgasms in the past, but can’t have one now

Some women don’t need an orgasm to enjoy sex. However, for other women and their partners, being unable to have an orgasm can be a problem.

According to The Sexual Advice Association, sexual problems, including orgasm issues, affect around 50% of women and become more common as women get older.

Where to get help if you have orgasm problems

If you’re unable to have an orgasm, see your GP or go to a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. They can check for any physical reasons that may be causing the problem.

If the cause is psychological, it may help to see a sex therapist or doctor. Your GP can refer you, or you can see one privately. Look for a therapist who is a member of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) or a doctor from the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine.

There's more information about orgasms and other sexual problems on our page on female sexual problems.

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

Further information:


Video: female sexual dysfunction

A psychosexual therapist explains the different types of female sexual dysfunction and the medical and psychological issues that may be involved.

Media last reviewed:

Next review due:

Page last reviewed: 17/12/2014

Next review due: 16/12/2016