INTERN RACHEL NEEDS HELP: I've Never Had An Orgasm -- Will You Tell Me How To Find "The Big O"?

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she must ask herself, “Would I rather be sane, or would I rather be sexually satisfied?" No? Not ringing any bells?

Dec 13, 2012 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

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Yes, that is a quilt made up of people orgasming at The Museum of Sex. It is taunting me.

I have never had an orgasm. Ever. Not by man, machine, or mine own hand.

You know those women's magazine articles about “How To Have 20 Multiple Orgasms” and “I Had A Spontaneous Orgasm At Church!” and “How To Have A Blended Orgasm While Spinning Plates On A Stick?” Every time I read one, I find myself cursing you spoiled bitches, with all your fancy sexual experiences. Is this crazy shit what women aspire to? Are they so bored with the mundane, everyday orgasm that they need one with bells and whistles and blending? Where is my article on how to have ONE measly orgasm?

I’ve been on some kind of SSRI since I was a senior in high school. I struggled with social anxiety for years before finally accepting that exercise and journal writing and discussing my irrational feelings wasn’t going to cut it. This was pre-sexual activity: I wasn’t into the Guido bros at my high school and still thought my virginity was a precious commodity to be protected and bestowed upon only the most worthy.

And so, when the drugs kicked in and I found myself exuding confidence and making friends and going to parties without having crippling panic attacks mid-conversation, it was a dream come true. The once-foreign concept of happiness was suddenly a reality, and I thought the drugs were a godsend. 

Of course, if God sent them, maybe he didn’t want me to get off because of all this premarital sex. (I should just stop this article now and accept a religious interpretation of my problems.)

Flash-forward several months and I had lost it! The virginity, it was gone! And it was just as uncomfortable and unsexy as I had been assured it would be. Despite this, I was not deterred, and I was in a full-on exclusive and sexually active relationship by my second semester.

But after months of hard work (hehe, get it), I was still in search of that elusive orgasm. I faked it for a couple of weeks before explaining the brutal truth. As any overeager young man would, my boyfriend took it as a challenge, but despite all his efforts -- and, oh, were there efforts -- it seemed an orgasm was never coming.

Here’s the thing: if a guy is trying to be considerate, sex can go on for hours as he tries to make "it" happen. Sometimes it can go on for three hours. THREE! I know that this kind of sexual marathon sounds great to some, but when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s actually rather depressing. It’s like watching a pretty decent movie, but you miss the best scene, and the ending is painfully disappointing (quite literally: considering your problem here is a lack of arousal, things start to get a little friction-y down there). Sex becomes something tedious; it's never about pleasing you, no matter how much both parties want it to be. 

After extensive research on the subject (Googling), I discovered that the source of my distress was also the source of my sanity. The all-mighty selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI as the kids call it these days, is a drug commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety disorders and some personality disorders. It works by altering the balance of serotonin in the brain, which in turn boosts mood. It also causes sexual dysfunction. Hurray!

Something that was of no consequence only a year before was suddenly consuming my mind. I was basically thinking about sex and drugs all day, and not even in a fun way. The magic pill that had enabled me to partake in social interaction, that made me capable of even having a boyfriend, was the same thing inhibiting me from having a satisfying physical relationship with him.

After months of ineffective sexy time, I finally worked up the nerve to discuss these problems with my 50-something psychiatrist. I was all, Hey respected elder, let’s talk about my clitoris and why it seems to be on the fritz! He first asked, in his spectacular South African accent, if I was “taking the proper precautions to not fall pregnant.” This is a man who also reminds me not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater” on a regular basis, so his jargon did not throw me.

While I was unaware that pregnancy was something one could fall into, I assured him that, yes, I was still on the pill, we were being safe -- I was not at risk of slipping into motherhood.

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Praying for an orgasm at The Museum of Sex.

The wise doctor explained that what I was experiencing is something called anorgasmia, and then proceeded to inquire about my masturbatory habits. After several blush-filled minutes of stuttering and explaining that I had tried and failed to get down on my own, he proposed that I take a "drug holiday." Just thinking about what it implied -- that being on my medication is something I need a vacation from -- was unsettling.

The idea of voluntarily taking a break from the thing that had made me functional was terrifying to me. My life consists of two times: Before Drugs and After Drugs. Before Drugs, I was paranoid. I felt worthless and alone. I isolated myself because even the smallest interaction could send me into a spiral of panic. After Drugs, I was alive. I felt loved and happy. I joined a sorority, I made friends, and I was outgoing. Now I was faced with a choice: should I risk losing all of that -- even just for a few weeks -- just so I can experience the big O? Is it worth it to knowingly put myself through hell for the sake of sex?

Although I started the process, I never did get my drug holiday. Just a few weeks after I began to wean myself off of my medication, TRAGEDY STRUCK. My ex and I broke up.  Sometimes I wonder if my withdrawal-induced breakdown had anything to do with our relationship's demise. But more often, I realize our relationship was pretty much doomed anyway, and I refocus on why no one is talking about this. 

More than 1 in 10 people in the U.S take antidepressants. According to one study, "estimates of sexual dysfunction vary from a small percentage to more than 80%" and women are two-and-a-half times more likely to take antidepressants than men. So why do my Google searches only lead to studies about erectile dysfunction and message boards full of unsexed ladies and their tales of woe?

Two years later, I'm still a lost unorgasmic soul. I recently switched medications, and although I'm feeling a little sexier than usual (heyyyooo!), I'm also feeling a little crazier. I'm starting to think my life is going to be this constant battle between my dependence on meds and my desire to climax. I'm still searching for my answer, so if anyone out there has it: SHARE THE WEALTH, YOU MEDICATED SEX KITTEN, YOU.