Estimates on the prevalence of preorgasmia vary widely, and are almost completely a function of definition. Unrealistic expectations can shape your perception of the seriousness of your difficulty.
In 1976, The Hite Report on Female Sexuality documented that most American women who did have orgasms were having them from clitoral, rather than vaginal, stimulation.
Pre-Orgasmia (a/k/a anorgasmia)
Definition of Pre-Orgasmia:
A persistent lack of orgasm when it is expected.
Prevalence of Pre-Orgasmia:
10 million to 25 million
Background of Pre-Orgasmia:
The year 1972 was the beginning of the end for the word "frigid." That's the year that Dr. Lonnie Barbach published For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. The book and her workshops popularized the term "preorgasmic," which revolutionized the way therapists and others viewed women who were not climaxing with their partners. The next key date was 1976, when sociologist Shere Hite published The Hite Report on Female Sexuality, which documented that most American women who did have orgasms were having them from clitoral, rather than vaginal, stimulation. In other words, they were usually not achieving orgasm from intercourse.
These two events explain how female masturbation and female orgasm both burst into popular consciousness in the '70s. It finally became common for women who had trouble climaxing to be asked, or to ask themselves, "Are you getting the stimulation you need?" Just as importantly, such women were discouraged from thinking of themselves as defective, and encouraged to see themselves as simply needing education: "You can't come with a partner because you haven't learned how." Whether in a clinical setting or informally at home, masturbation became the obvious treatment for "preorgasmia." And for lots of women, it worked. It still works.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Pre-Orgasmia:
Women's orgasm problems have many sources:
Treatment for Pre-Orgasmia
With this kind of understanding, millions of previously anorgasmic women have become orgasmic--whether on their own, with a therapist, or in groups. Professionals and lay people alike now understand that women who can't come aren't broken -- they just need to uncover the causes, whether medical, psychological or relational.
*Marty Klein has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and sex therapist for over 20 years. His entire career has been aimed at a single set of goals: telling the truth about sexuality, helping people feel sexually normal and powerful, and supporting the healthy sexual expression and exploration of women and men.