An orgasm is the peak of sexual pleasure. It typically consists of a series of involuntary muscle contractions in the sexual organs, lower pelvic muscles, and the anus. An orgasm is accompanied by the release of endorphins – opioid-like chemicals produced in the brain that give a feeling of euphoria.
The male experiences rapid, rhythmic contractions of the urethra, the muscles at the base of the penis, and the prostate. Ejaculation of semen usually occurs through the urethral opening of the penis. A male orgasm usually lasts from 4 to about 10 seconds. Ejaculation without orgasm is possible, as is having an orgasm without ejaculation. After an orgasm the male goes through a refractory period – this is a short period after the nerve cell fires during which it cannot respond to additional stimulation. An orgasm cannot occur during the refractory period.
In males, the most common way of achieving orgasm is by the stimulation of the penis.
Female orgasm – beforehand the vaginal walls moisten and the clitoris enlarges. Then the clitoris goes inward under the clitoral hood and the vagina gets about one-third smaller. There are rhythmic contractions of the pelvic muscle, vagina and uterus. Females do not have a refractory period.
If we look at what an obstacle means in relation to an orgasm we find that the word “obstacle” means a potential situation that hinders the individual from reaching an orgasm. Below there are a number of varied situations which both men and women may encounter which may stunt the potential of reaching a full and enjoyable orgasm.
Medication: in the case of medication, there is a change in our body chemistry when we take various chemicals to assist in other problems and disorders. An example of this is if we experience depression. The most common form of treatment for most cases of depression is ZANAX. However many “lay individuals” do not know that when a GP or psychiatrist chooses the most appropriate form of medication to treat the disorder there’re are tried and tested side effects, many of which reduce libido and the sexual arousal response. This occurs differently in men and women: where in men the erection is affected which potentially can delay the orgasm to a point where the man loses his erection and cannot engage in penetration further; in women this can potentially cause secondary or primary anorgasmia which means that the woman has never had an orgasm (Primary) and because of the medication cannot reach orgasm, in comparison to Secondary which occurs in women who have had an orgasm before but because of the medication cannot reach orgasm as a consequence. If you are concerned about this or any medication having an effect on your libido and orgasmic response, get your GP or health professional to check the side effects of the medication and get them to change this to an equivalent but yet equally effective alternative.
Alcohol: Men’s sexual behaviours can be affected dramatically by alcohol. Both chronic and acute alcohol consumption has been shown in most (but not all) studies to inhibit testosterone production in the testes. This is believed to be caused by the metabolism of alcohol reducing the NAD+/NADH ratio both in the liver and the testes; since the synthesis of testosterone requires NAD+, this tends to reduce testosterone production.
As testosterone is critical for libido and physical arousal, alcohol tends to have deleterious effects on male sexual performance. Studies have been conducted that indicate increasing levels of alcohol intoxication produce a significant degradation in male masturbatory effectiveness. Alcohol intoxication can decrease sexual arousal, decrease pleasureability and intensity of orgasm, and increase difficulty in attaining orgasm.
In many women, alcohol increases sexual arousal and desire, although it does lower the physiological signs of arousal. Women have a different response to alcohol intoxication. Studies have shown that acute alcohol consumption tends to cause increased levels of testosterone andestradiol. Since testosterone controls in part the strength of libido on women, this tends to cause an increase in interest in sex. Also, because women have a higher percentage of body fat and less water in their bodies, alcohol can have a quicker, more severe impact. Women’s bodies take longer to process the alcohol which often takes one-third longer to eliminate the substance.
Sexual behaviour in women under the influence of alcohol is also different from men. Studies have shown that increased BAC is associated with longer orgasmic latencies and decreased intensity of orgasm. Some women report a greater sexual arousal with increased alcohol consumption as well as increased sensations of pleasure during orgasm. Because ejaculatory response is visual and can more easily be measured in males, orgasmic response must be measured more intimately. In studies of the female orgasm under the influence of alcohol, orgasmic latencies were measured using a vaginal photoplethysmograph which essentially measures vaginal blood volume.
Psychologically, alcohol has also played a role on sexual behaviour. It has been reported that women who were intoxicated believed they were more sexually aroused than before consumption of alcohol. This psychological effect contrasts with the physiological effects measured, but refers back to the loss of inhibitions because of alcohol. Often alcohol can influence the capacity for a woman to feel more relaxed and in turn, be more sexual. Alcohol may be considered by some women to be a sexual “ dis-inhibitor”.
In both the cases for men and women, be mindful of the amount of alcohol consumption as this is key in experiencing an orgasm or “thinking” that you are having a better sexual experience simply because the alcohol has made you feel more relaxed.
Weight: societal beliefs and opinions on weight are continually varied; however the stigma associated with weight (being too thin or too fat) can have a disastrous impact on ones potential for reaching orgasm both on a physical level and psychological level. People unfortunately internalise society’s definition and beliefs about what it takes to be involved in sex, especially when it comes to body size/shape. These biases impact us on an individual level and not in a good way. However although societal bias can impact the way we relate to our bodies regardless of the shape and size which can place a dampener on our orgasms, New research suggests certain physical conditions that go along with obesity also affect sex drive, further dampening the desires of those who are overweight. The good news: You can make some changes to your body (and how you think about your body) to enhance your libido. You can:
Lose a little weight, even 10 pounds, to stimulate sex hormones
Eat more nutritious foods, which control cholesterol and blood sugar levels
Key your workouts to getting blood flowing to the pelvic area
Pick up a sexy novel and start reading
Accept your body at any size
Believe in your sensuality
How to begin? Start by identifying the physical and psychological obstacles that could be standing in your way to a fulfilling sex life.
Obese people seeking help controlling their weight indicate problems with sex drive, desire, performance, or all three. Often, the latest research shows, these problems can be traced to physical conditions that co-exist with obesity.
Medical conditions such as high cholesterol and insulin resistance [an early indicator of type 2 diabetes] do have the ability to impact sexual performance, which in turn impacts desire, particularly in men.
Because both conditions can cause the tiny arteries in the penis to shut down, particularly when vessel-clogging fatty deposits begin to form, impotence or erectile dysfunction is often the result.
A man who has problems having an erection is going to lose his desire for sex in not too long a time and the same can be said for women as blood flow is inevitably affected if one is obese.
Self-esteem: Self-esteem is one psychological endeavour that can greatly affect the strength and outcome of our orgasmic response. This can affect men and women differently: in women who experience a low level of self-esteem can create a heightened degree of anxiety on a physiological level which can potentially create situations like dyspareunia (painful intercourse).
This is an involuntary muscle spasm that prevents the women from experiencing any form of penetration which in turn does not allow for any form of orgasm to be reached via penetration. Depending on her degree of anxiety and self-esteem there is still potential for clitoral based orgasms but these too can be reduced markedly especially when she becomes over conscious of her body (as an example) and may create an internal dialogue that she is not good enough; or becomes very judging towards herself.
Whereas when men experience issues with their self-esteem, it is unfortunate and quite repetitive but the man experiences an impact on his erection which leads him to lose an erection if he becomes too self-conscious, or experience delayed ejaculation because his mind is playing with the idea that he is lesser than he really is.
By learning to trust yourself and what your body does will allow you greater control over your self-esteem and feel more confident in the bedroom and especially in reaching an orgasm. Ron Jeremy (not your normal looking man) was hairy and overweight, however his appearance never hindered his flawless self-confidence. He could ejaculate by counting down from 10 on every take. This is an indicator of how effective one’s self-esteem can be in achieving or ruining an orgasm.
If at any point you feel that your sex life has been hindered or is not where you feel you want it to be. Please make contact with my team to arrange the most bespoke treatment in reigniting your sex life.
Have a look at our 10 Weeks to Amazing Sex Programme: http://www.harleystreetpsychology.com/10-weeks-to-amazing-sex/
(Images courtesy of Victor Kravcuk)