This article, about sex goddess and movie star icon Marilyn Monroe being inorgasmic, makes me sad.
But not because, as many might assume, I’m upset that one of the women considered the ultimate sex symbol was unable to come up gasping for air after a toe-curling, knuckle-whitening orgasm. But because even with stories of popular figures like Marilyn Monroe and research available to the masses about the number of women who don’t orgasm, we are still SO FIXATED on this “dysfunction.”
One of the movies at the top of my “to watch” list right now is Orgasm Inc, a documentary which investigates the medical industry that has exploded to symptomize and treat “female arousal disorder” and other similar sexual problems that women have (or are led to think they have).
One of the main points that Orgasm Inc talks about is this idea of finding the cure to inorgasmia, the “condition” which Marilyn Monroe and millions of other women deal with during some point in their lives. Inorgasmia is a relatively new term in the medical lexicon, and it focuses on a woman’s inability to orgasm. There are all kinds of revolutionary and experimental treatments for the condition, some of which I’ve written about before (Argentina and an Orgasm machine, Ole!), but almost no one in the medical community is addressing the crazy idea that… MAYBE THERE’S NOTHING WRONG.
As a teenager, the specter of inorgasmia loomed inordinately large because of my interest in sex and propensity for googling solutions to my sexual problems, rather than asking my nurse midwife mother. It freaked me out to no end that I might never orgasm, and nothing out there on the internet was telling me it was OK.
Over the course of about two years, I learned more about my body and my sexual response than many sexually active teens, particularly because I couldn’t orgasm. I got better at communicating with my partners, because I needed to let them know when to stop because I had reached a plateau, and how to work around certain movements that caused me pain. I became more comfortable with my own body and what I perceived were its “limitations.” I was pretty ok with a future sans orgasms.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m incredibly happy that my body has figured out its natural response mechanism so that I can orgasm, but I think the transitional period I went through without them was the best thing that could have happened to me. It gave the space to think about my body and what I really wanted, and lowered the expectations and worries I had about sex, so that I could enjoy the ride and figure out what worked.
When I talk to people who say that they have inorgasmia, I tell them they can look at their situation in one of two ways. One: They can bemoan the dysfunction of their body and spend precious time and money frustrating themselves trying to find medical answers and berating themselves and their partners. Two: they can consider this a gift, hopefully one that passes in time, but make peace with it in the present, and use the signals their body is giving them to investigate their sexuality further. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something different. Use inorgasmia as a mandate to look into new sexual practices. Try a different partner. Try multiple partners. Try a toy. Try another gender. Try a new position, a new sensation, a new scenario, a new expectation for what a sexual encounter means.
The best part about inorgasmia for me was learning that sex doesn’t have to end with an orgasm to be fulfilling, for myself or my partner. And that understanding lowers the pressure for everyone involves, and gives us a much healthier, sustainable view of what sex is and can be.
Would you call that a sexual dysfunction?