I have a confession to make: I’m afraid of orgasm.
The culmination of this fear was during my first stint with the womanizer. My boyfriend held the control; i am 100% certain that this is the only reason why i got as far as i did, as close to the edge – if i’d held it in my own hand, i most certainly would’ve yanked it the fuck off of me. As it were, i begged for him to stop, and he did. I was a puddle. Intense feelings of anxiety, shame, and fear hovered over me in an awful cloud while i cried. I felt so horribly inadequate, broken even; why couldn’t i partake in this absolute pleasure, that everyone else i know has experienced? What was wrong with me?
The next morning he called to me while i was getting ready in the bathroom mirror: “I found an article,” he said, followed by a pause. “…Yeah?”
“It’s about a chick who’s afraid to orgasm”
Was that it? Was i afraid? I viewed the article; an advice column, the anonymous teen confided that she was afraid to finish. Something about anxiety and self-consciousness; she was worried about how she’d look. This was hardly my concern, though, and i was dismissive.
For me, the fear is much grander.
It’ll be one of those rare times where sex is long and heavy; where the pain isn’t too much to stop me, and my body and mind align. And then, after so long, I’ll begin to feel something. Inside it feels like there is a small pressure in my lower abdomen, my muscles become more sensitive, and i feel the pressure spread to my chest – and i stop everything. I can’t continue. I’m horrified at what i’m feeling; it’s too foreign, too strange. I can’t afford to lose control. Worse, i’m petrified – i can’t shake the thought that it’s going to hurt, and my brain cowers at the idea of such pain. I feel like a wreck.
Until this pivotal point of realization, i’d always chalked it up to one thing or another. I’d tell people it was because i’d only had sex with boys – but once i had sex with my first girlfriend, my first partner, the owner of a vagina, and i still didn’t climax, I figured it was just a thing; “I just don’t like receiving sex,” i’d say – and i still don’t – “i prefer to give. That’s what gets me off.” And giving, i think, is much easier when the one receiving has a vagina. After all, I don’t like dick (present boyfriend is an exception).
And after my partner and i broke up, along came my ex-boyfriend. And then another. And finally, my current boyfriend. All people with penises (band name, called it). It was easier for me to say it was the fact of their anatomy that prevented my orgasming, but in the back of my mind i was troubled. I quickly decided that i wasn’t a lesbian, but that under the queer umbrella was where i resided comfortably – and with this came the prospect of asexuality. Still not quite right, but a justification nonetheless of my inability to finish. I blamed anything i possibly could: my queerness, my low self esteem, my lack of desire for penetration (fingers, dicks – didn’t matter), my endometriosis, anything but my own fear.
So the article, while maybe not exactly applicable, still hit me like a train. Afraid of orgasm. It made so much sense. I only had to think about it, and i could place myself in the exact state of being – a blooming pleasure souring quickly into an intense and irreversible fear.
I confess, as well, that had i not gotten a job in a sex shop, i’m sure i would’ve discovered this fear a lot later on – if i discovered it at all.
I tried to research. Anorgasmia was easy to find content about, but locating anything about a straight-up fear is much more difficult.
I did, however, find this on one of my favorite sites – ohjoysextoy.com – written by Tait Howard, it explained a lot without having to explain much more than the science behind orgasm:
“So when we reach orgasm, which is essentially the pinnacle of sex, parts of our brain are firing on all cylinders while other parts shut down to divert energy towards the over-active parts. The super-active parts when we have an orgasm include the part of the amygdala that regulates positive emotions. Our pituitary gland, which releases beta-endorphins to decrease pain, oxytocin to increase trust and bonding, and vasopressin to help the body retain water. Our nucleus accumbens, which tells us how much dopamine to release, and our ventral tegmental area which actually releases it. Conversely, our orbitofrontal cortex, right behind the left eye, shuts down almost completely. This is the part of the brain that governs reason and behavioral control. The hippocampus and the part of the amygdala that governs fear and anxiety shut down completely.”
How did this make sense to me? Well – in a lot of ways:
I’m bipolar depressed. This means that my brain has a bunch of bullshit going on all the time (fabulous bullshit, but bullshit nonetheless, and it can be really hard to deal with sometimes). I’m gonna go out on a really big limb here and guess that my brain’s centers, like the amygdala and hippocampus, have a hard enough time functioning on a normal basis without the added pressure of what are essentially pleasure chemicals being introduced. My brain totally freaks out, man! I just don’t think it’s capable of relieving itself of the anxiety that has become such a concrete part of me.
I’ve tried meditation; it works, to an extent, but i always end up stopping myself anyway. And toys, they’ve definitely helped. I’ve never been much for clitoral stimulation that involved rubbing or any motion like that – pinpoint vibrations are a necessity, now. Toys like the womanizer that don’t involve direct contact but still provide intense stimulation (and even the hitachi through my underwear or even a blanket) are helpful as well. But still, the mental block pervades.
I find myself staring boredly up at my ceiling while my body twitches subtly. Away goes the toy, and sayonara to any potential orgasm.
I’m deeply curious to know if anyone else is affected not just by anorgasmia, but by an actual fear of orgasm. Have you overcome it? How? What helped/helps?
I want to experiment; I desperately want a powerful internal vibrator, a g-spotting dildo – i want to bring myself to that coveted point of no return, by any means possible. “Uncontrollable Urge” by Devo plays in the background of my mind; but the foreground says, “fuck that.”
Luckily, I just renewed my health insurance – so if toys can’t help me, maybe a therapist will.