My partner and I have tried everything, but I cannot reach orgasm with him/her. I can have them on my own through masturbation, what should I do?

The condition you are referring to is known as female orgasmic disorder, or anorgasmia, which is the difficulty or impossibility to achieve orgasm. Most sexual difficulties, including anorgasmia, can stem from both physical and psychological causes. In other words, there may be nothing physically wrong, but you may be thinking about the problem too much and creating a mental blockade. Remember, anxiety is the opposite of orgasm. The female climax requires a complete letting go of bodily control, which may be difficult. In addition, you may feel the need to reciprocate sexual stimulation during partner sex, which may be distracting. This may explain why you are able to give yourself an orgasm (because you are focused and in control), but cannot achieve one when someone else is trying to make you climax. Additionally, try not to think about orgasm as the major goal of sex and instead focusing on all of the pleasurable aspects of the interaction. You will certainly enjoy the experience more and you might even reach that orgasm you desire!

While you say that you have tried everything, we want to stress that it is rare for a female to orgasm from penis-vaginal intercourse alone. Females oftentimes find that cunnilingus (oral stimulation of the clitoris and vulva) is usually the sexual practice that leads to orgasm because the clitoris is directly stimulated. Talk to your partner; make sure he/she is doing what you want him/her to do. Your partner cannot feel the sensations you are feeling, so using communication will definitely help! Allowing your partner to watch you masturbate (manually or with a vibrator) can be a good way to show him/her exactly what you want. For more information, please see our in-depth article on Anorgasmia. Best of luck!

 

Why is my period brownish/blackish in color? Is this normal, and can I still engage in sexual activity?

When a women is nearing the end of their period they may start seeing very brown or black blood. Periods tend to begin with bright red blood (new blood just shed from the uterus) then transition to darker blood as the older blood is shed. (Blood gets darker and thicker as it sits in the uterus.) The blood flow should gradually become lighter and stop after several days much like any other period. If this is not when an individual usually has their period, they may be experiencing spotting, and it is likely nothing to worry about. However, if this dark blood continues to worry them or they begin to experience other symptoms, we recommend they visit their doctor.

To answer the second question, women can have sex on their period, and we absolutely recommend using a condom to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Unless they are trying to conceive or are engaging in sex with a clean, trusted partner, we always recommend using protection. Periods do not interfere with the efficacy of condoms or most birth control methods.

I am worried that my vagina is too tight for intercourse. Can I still have pleasurable sex?

First, we would like to say that sexual performance and the size/width/tightness of a woman’s vaginal canal are factors oftentimes unrelated from one another. Women need not worry about the tightness of their vagina and its effect on their sexual function or pleasure! Sex can be pleasurable for both women and their partners regardless of your vaginal “tightness.” However, many women have reported an increase in pleasure and sensitivity after practicing muscle tightening exercises called Kegel exercises, which work to strengthen their pubococcygeus (PC) or “pelvic floor” muscles. This suggests that having strong PC muscles (AKA a “tight vagina”) may have some advantages regarding sexual sensation because they can increase both male and female pleasure. A tight vagina can allow for more coital (penile/vaginal) friction, which in turn increases stimulation and the possibility of orgasm for both partners.

           Sometimes, however, the vagina can be too tight and penetration may be difficult and painful for females. This condition is known as Vaginismus and is characterized by involuntary spasms of the pelvic floor muscles that surround the vagina. These spasms can make penetration impossible or extremely difficult. If a woman feels pain or discomfort during penetration, we would advise them to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist for proper diagnosis and treatment (vaginismus is treatable, so do not be afraid or disappointed if you are experiencing any of these symptoms).

Lastly, we would like to note that a female’s vagina might become “loose” (AKA her pelvic floor muscles have weakened) after giving birth, not merely from having many sexual partners or encounters. Again, these muscles can be strengthened/tightened through Kegels, which also aids in urinary control and stronger, longer lasting orgasms.

I am a middle-aged female, and I oftentimes have no sexual desire. Is this normal, and how can I change my libido?

There are many factors that can contribute to a decrease in sexual desire. As women age, many changes occur in their body that can affect sexual desire. One of the most significant changes is menopause, the time in a female's life when she ceases to menstruate. This usually occurs between the ages of 40 to 60 and can affect their libido (sex drive) by causing changes such as decreased lubrication, lower estrogen levels (the female sex hormone), lower testosterone levels (the hormone believed to be responsible for female sexual arousal), and vaginal atrophy (the thinning and decreasing elasticity of the vaginal walls). Certain drugs, including those used to treat depression and others used to relieve the symptoms of menopause, can contribute to lower sexual desire. Other hormonal changes, negative sexual experiences, depression, anxiety and stress, non-sexual medical issues, habituation to their partner, and relationship problems can also cause sexual desire to decrease.

           There are a variety of treatments that can be used to combat low sexual desire depending on which factors are relevant in any particular case. If a woman has been feeling stressed or anxious, meditation, exercise, and psychotherapy can help reduce stress and increase sexual desire. Certain medications, such as anti-anxiety medication, bupropion hydrochloride sustained-release tablets, and Lorexys, have been shown to increase sexual desire in females. A clitoral therapy device called the EROS-CTD, designed to increase blood flow to the clitoral area by creating a gentle suction over the clitoris, could also be a solution. Other treatments include sensate focus, Kegel exercises, and self-exploration through autoeroticism and masturbation.

            In order to figure out exactly what is causing a women’s decreased sexual desire and the best way to treat it, it is important to seek medical attention. The cause may be an underlying medical issue that can be diagnosed and alleviated by a physician. It is also important to have open and effective communication in a romantic relationship.Women should talk to their partner about how they have been feeling and possible ways that the two of them can make their sex life more exciting and appealing. Proper identification of the cause of their low sexual desire, whether it be physiological, psychological, or interpersonal, is crucial for effective treatment.

There could be several possible answers to this question. The first possibility is that there could be no specific reason for the changes, as sex is never quite the same and can feel different each time! Women’s bodies respond in different ways depending on many factors such as stress level,  mood, or the stage of their menstrual cycle. We recommend experimenting by having sex at different times of the day/week/month and see if any of these feelings change. Also, if a women hasn’t had sex in a while, the muscles in their vagina will become used to being closed, so the first time they have sex after a break their vagina may be a little tighter than normal.

    The difference that a women’s partner is experiencing could be dependent on which sex position they both are in. He will feel a difference depending on how the women’s body is positioned and the angle of penetration. One position that can increase the feeling of “tightness” is if the woman lays on their stomach with their legs together and have their partner enter from behind. The added friction from the women’s thighs will provide their partner with more pressure and “tightness.”

    The amount of time spent on foreplay also changes both the lubrication level and the shape of a women’s vagina. If a woman is not properly and completely aroused, they will not have a lot of natural lubrication, which will make their partner feel more friction but could end up being painful for them. Most of the time, the vagina lies flat, but when a female is aroused, the vagina lengthens and the inner two-thirds expand in a process called “tenting.” The biological function of this action is to create a receptacle for semen. When a woman is properly aroused, the factors mentioned above may combine to make it feel as if their vagina is “looser,” but it should not be a concern as this is their body’s natural reaction to ensure that the sex is pleasurable and comfortable for them.

There is one way that a woman can increase the strength of their vaginal muscles (and in turn tightness of their vagina), and it is through Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises strengthen the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle, which forms the pelvic floor and supports the pelvic organs, to increase sexual response and satisfaction. To locate their PC muscle, they must try stopping the flow of their urine. The muscle that they clench to do this is their PC muscle. Practice squeezing this muscle, and gradually build up the number of repetitions and the length of each squeeze. Just like normal exercise, doing this often will strengthen a woman’s PC muscle. Anyone can practice Kegel exercises discretely almost anytime and anywhere (e.g., in their car, in their living room, etc.). Strengthening this muscle will add to the overall tightness of their vagina and also give you stronger contractions during orgasm, which will make their orgasms feel more powerful (a win-win situation!). Women can try clenching their PC muscle slightly during sex to increase the pleasure for her and her partner.  

There are many reasons a condom could be irritating to someones vagina, so we will list several below.

Latex Allergy

Most condoms are made out of latex, and about 1 to 3% of people have latex allergies. Physical reactions to a latex allergy can include a rash on or around the genitals, redness, blistering, and itching; they usually begin to appear 6 to 48 hours after the exposure to latex. If someone ever experiences more severe symptoms, like cramps, hives, severe itching, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, or difficulty breathing, they should stop using the condom immediately, and should not hesitate to contact a doctor. These may be signs of a severe and life-threatening form of latex allergy. If someone would like to know for sure whether or not they may be allergic to latex, they should contact a physician who will be able to test them for the allergy.

Plastic (also known as polyurethane, a type of rubber) condoms are available for people with latex allergies. Plastic and latex condoms have roughly equivalent efficacy rates of preventing pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Polyurethane condoms are slightly thinner and less flexible than latex ones, so more lubrication and caution are required when putting one on. (Plastic condoms also tend to be more expensive.) Remember that both oil-based and water-based lubricants are safe to use with plastic condoms, but oil-based lubricants should never be used with latex condoms. Oil deteriorates latex and makes it much more likely to tear.  

Spermicide

    Some condoms contain a spermicide, which helps eliminate any sperm that may escape the condom. Unfortunately, the active ingredient in most spermicides is the chemical nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 has been shown to irritate the vaginal walls and cause lesions (small cuts), which could be the cause of irritation. Check to see if the condoms that are used contain this ingredient, and if they do, find condoms that do not. (This should not be difficult to do because most condoms no longer contain spermicide.)

Insufficient Lubrication

    A very common cause of vaginal irritation or pain during intercourse is insufficient lubrication. If someone is not very aroused or their vagina naturally produces less lubrication, penetrative sexual activity may cause too much friction, and this friction can irritate their vagina by creating microscopic tears in the vaginal walls. Lesions not only cause irritation, but they also facilitate the transmission of STIs and viruses. Because of this, it is very important to be sufficiently lubricated before any penetration occurs, especially if the penetration is going to be vigorous. Luckily, there is a very simple solution: use a personal lubricant! There are many different types available, so people can experiment and see if any help. As mentioned previously, never use an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom.

    The condoms being used may have a textured surface. This is said to increase stimulation for the female, and therefore increase pleasure. However, perhaps this texture is creating too much friction and is irritating. If this is the case then a person should use a condom that has a smooth surface.

Different brands and kinds of condoms produce different sensations. People should try to use a different brand of condom and find one that feels more comfortable.

Condom Quality

Check that the condoms that are being used are neither expired nor damaged. Check that the wrapping is not torn, punctured, or worn out. Check the expiration date. Condoms should never be stored in direct sunlight or exposed to high temperatures. When the condom is taken out of its packaging, make sure that it is not discolored, torn, sticky, dry, or brittle. If its believed that a condom has been compromised in any way, do not use it.