Anonymous on September 1, 2011

I no longer find masturbation pleasurable...why?

I’m a 20-year-old woman and, for the past few years, I haven’t been able to become sexually aroused. When I was younger, I’d get turned on easily and enjoyed masturbation. Now when I try to masturbate, I don’t feel anything…and I’ve never had an orgasm. What do you suggest?

answered by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on September 1, 2011

You’re smart to notice changes in your body, and how it responds to sexual stimulation and arousal.

While I’m happy to offer you a few thoughts on the subject, I also encourage you to visit a gynecologist to discuss your questions in greater detail…and to work toward identifying any physical or psychological issues that may influence your ability to enjoy masturbation and reach orgasm.

First, you’re not alone. According toresearch by Massachusetts General Hospital, about 43% of women report some type of sexual concern in their lifetimes.

There are a number of physical or psychological causes that can help explain why a lot of women experience a lack of sexual pleasure. Some women find it’s difficult to experience pleasure because of a hormone imbalance, medications or even high blood pressure. Other women struggle with negative or guilty feelings about sex and/or masturbation, or are trying to overcome a past personal experience or trauma that’s associated with sexual activity.

Let’s explore some of these possible causes in greater detail.

Are you taking any medications? Some meds, like hormonal birth control, can change the way the body responds to sexual stimulation. Others, likethose taken to treat depression, can also decrease libido (or sex drive). So, if you’re taking any medications, mention your concerns to your doctor who may be able to recommend a different dosage – or a different treatment altogether – with less of an impact on your ability to experience sexual pleasure.

Unfortunately,depression or anxiety disorders can also affect libido. So, again, if you’re depressed or anxious, it’s important to see your doctor right away to openly discuss how you’re feeling, and what you’re experiencing in terms of sexual pleasure. It’s possible that the right treatment for anxiety or depression can lift your inability to enjoy masturbation – and even achieve orgasms – right away.

You also may experiment with new ways of getting aroused (turned on). Many women enjoy reading erotic material, seeing erotic images or watching certain movies in order to get aroused. But every woman is different…only you can know what does (or doesn’t) work for you. Just keep in mind that many women need a “kick-start” to get aroused, and being turned on makes it easier to reach orgasm.

Regarding possible psychological barriers to your enjoyment of masturbation …speaking with a sex therapist might be a good first step.

Bottom line? See your doctor to address or rule out any physical issues that could be standing in your way of pleasurable masturbation. And, if needed, get in touch with a therapist to dig in and work through any emotional issues that could be detrimental to your sexual health.

Thanks again for sharing your very personal questions with us, and I hope that you’ll soon get the support and clarity you need to enjoy masturbation once again.

Related info:

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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