Basically, I can’t have an orgasm anymore.
Okay, I can. But it takes time. Like, at least an hour. Which is not necessarily time I want to spend. It takes patience, which is not necessarily something I have. It takes a high-powered vibrator, which is not necessarily something I want to deal with.
When I say high-powered, I mean one of those wand things that are more household appliance than vibrator. Try hiding that shit from your kids. It looks like a giant space dildo.
I have several very good physiological reasons I can’t have an orgasm. They’re called psychiatric meds, and I need a shit ton of them to keep an even keel. Several of these drugs can cause delayed orgasm or difficulty with arousal, and when you stack them, you get my sex life.
No, there are no available substitutions. I’ve tried them all; I’ve been riding this rodeo for a long, long time. Yes, I actually need all the drugs, or I will spiral into despair and probably suicidal ideations. Yes, chemical imbalances and mental health issues are real and, no, I don’t believe in pill shaming, thank you very much.
But believe me, not being able to orgasm sucks.
It especially sucks when you’re in your mid-thirties and horny as hell, because you’ve hit your sexual peak and you want to have sex, like, all the time. My husband and I manage to get it on about every other day and we’d do it more often, but honestly, most of the time, it’s not worth the effort. He always wants to try to get me off. And that’s a long, frustrating experience that usually ends in me suddenly proclaiming, “This isn’t going to work. We’re done here,” and a wet spot on the bed without the benefit of an actual orgasm.
Sometimes, I feel broken and stupid and sad. I cry about it once in a while. I roll away from my husband and won’t let him touch me. I know it’s not his fault. I know it’s not my fault. But if you remember the easy sex you had before, and if suddenly it’s gone, you can’t help but feel bereft and broken. It’s hard not to have one of the most basic of human pleasures. It’s hard not to blame yourself. I’ve told my husband I want to go back on meds that kill my sex drive completely, just so I don’t have to deal with it. I don’t really mean it. Most of the time.
All you can do is learn to live with it. As one friend told me, “Orgasms are overrated,” and I suppose you have to zen out and accept that. You focus more on your partner’s pleasure than your own. You hone in on the pleasure you feel in the moment rather than the end result, than the release. This is very, very, very difficult to do. But I try. Sometimes it works. Usually it doesn’t.
And if you ever want to bother with sex again, you have to learn to like sex without having an orgasm. It’s not as much fun. But it’s still somewhat fun. You feel restless and incomplete afterwards, but it’s still fun. The restlessness goes away after a few minutes. You don’t have that blissful, pass-out feeling; you can’t use it to get to sleep or relieve the tension of a bad day. Sex loses it basic utility. But it’s still enjoyable, at a basic and fundamental level. I mean, it’s fucking sex.
That is, it’s fun until you try to really, really hard to get off. Then it’s sore and miserable. You end up, basically, with rug burn on your lady bits, especially if you’re using a vibrator. Once you hit a certain point, no amount of lube can save you from that, or from the buzzy feeling that lasts for ten minutes after you stop using said vibrator. The trick is knowing when it’s really futile and stopping before the rug-burn point. And you don’t really want to stop; you want to hold out hope that it’ll happen, and it probably feels good anyway, even if you won’t get off, but once you start feeling the burn, you need to end it. At least I do.
I’m not alone; some estimates say that 10-15% of women never climax at all. But we never talk about it. We’re too ashamed. The ability to get off is so tied to our basic sense of human sexuality that we’re mortified we don’t have it. We don’t usually tell our friends. Sometimes we fake it. I don’t. But many women do. And unlike men, women have no easy pill we can take, no quick fix. That’s sexist and unfair. I’d happily pop another pill to climax. But it’s not an option.
So unless some miracle happens, until they make the magic pill or my med regime substantially changes (which is very, very, very unlikely to happen), I’m stuck. I need to learn to deal. I need to ditch the self-blame. Sometimes I can manage that. Other times I can’t. But admitting it, talking about it: that helps a lot. Knowing I’m not alone helps. Making jokes helps. So does a patient and understanding spouse who knows it’s not his fault.
You learn to live with it. I know my mental health is more important than an orgasm; it’s a cost-benefit analysis that really sucks. I hang in there. I keep trying. And I know when to stop trying. I remind myself that I’m not to blame. In the end, that’s all I can really do.
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