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If you’ve never had an orgasm to the best of your memory or knowledge, you’re not alone. Statistics on this vary, but it’s generally acknowledged that between 10 to 20% of women have never climaxed, compared to just 2% of men.

I refer to such women as pre-orgasmic, because they have not climaxed yet. For many such women, there can be feelings of shame, disappointment and frustration. They may feel disconnected from themselves sexually, or deficient somehow. Some women exclusively struggle with climaxing with a partner, but are able to do so during masturbation. In either case, the absence of orgasm can catalyze feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

The good news is that the body can learn, or in some cases relearn, how to reach orgasm. There is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that dysfunctions in the body can prevent one from having an orgasm; specifically, neither childbirth nor spinal cord injuries can prevent the body’s ability to climax forever! These days there are many approaches that one might take toward learning or relearning to orgasm. Of course, a big piece of the puzzle is letting go of the anxiety and possible obsession.

But here are six essential steps you can proactively take toward your orgasm. In fact, I’d say this is the best order in which to go about preparing your body to climax …

  • Watch what you put in your mouth.

It goes without saying that having a healthy body can affect your libido as well as your hormones, all of which impact on your ability to climax. In general, a diet which contains limited grains and sugars, and sufficient protein and healthy fats is key to keeping your hormones in optimal orgasm-mode. Paleo is an excellent option, but not necessary. See a nutritionist if in doubt!

Some medications, like anti-depressants, or birth control pills reduce key libido/arousal-related hormonal functions. Check your medications, and talk to your doctor about swapping meds, then see if this improves your arousal and sensation.

Premenopausal and menopausal hormonal changes can also make it more difficult to reach orgasm. In this case, you might consider some natural remedies that can improve your hormones, such as plant-based bioidentical hormones, herbs, or even some vitamin supplements. To find the best remedies for you, it’s worth consulting a naturopath or another practitioner who specializes in hormonal imbalance.

  • Work with your body.

Muscular constriction and structural misalignment are also culprits when it comes to female difficulties with orgasm. It’s very simple: a climax requires the free flow of neurons between the genitals and the brain, via the spinal cord and the cranial nerves.

Yoga is a wonderful way to free such constrictions and get the body connected to orgasmic energy, but so too can simple practices like stretching. A session with a massage therapist, chiropractor, or osteopath, or myofascial practitioner can also help.

  • Commit yourself to some kind of de-stressing routine (and really commit!).

Stress makes the body produce cortisol, and cortisol interrupts all the happy hormones of sexual arousal. Not to mention, it causes muscles to contract, particularly the muscles that are key to producing orgasm. Find ways to de-stress, especially around the experience of intimacy. Go slowly. Make sure you feel safe and emotionally connected.

  • Learn your arousal cycle.

In the absence of physical constrictions or hormonal issues, orgasm is largely about the brain. It’s all about arousal, after all. Unfortunately, as many of us know, emotional and psychological patterning can block the arousal-to-orgasm trajectory. You may know the feeling of being in the bedroom, and suddenly getting distracted by an email you forgot to send, or a fight you had with a family member. Of course, this effect is especially intense when there is a history of sexual abuse, trauma or shame associated with physical intimacy.

The important thing here is that because of the brain’s neuroplasticity, our bodies and neural networks can be retrained. So consider what makes you feel aroused, and identify what path your arousal takes. Does it peak then stop, does it fizzle out, does it never get lift off?

Now you may even want to find a metaphor for what you’d like to happen instead. For example, if your arousal just suddenly stops mid-coitus, you might imagine that the opposite of this is the total loss of control, akin to how you might feel on a roller coaster. Once you find the metaphor, do at least two of the following exercises with it. Meditate imagining your metaphor for orgasm. Take this information to a good hypnotherapist and do some hypnosis. Or masturbate whilst thinking of it.

  • Masturbate, Masturbate, Masturbate

Get yourself on a steady diet of non-goal-focused, exploratory self-pleasure at least three times a week. At first, just pay attention to how you feel, where you feel sensation, and what thoughts or stimuli most put you in the mood.

Next, see how long you can stay in an aroused state, and pay attention to what happens in your body when your arousal wanes. Then, work with that metaphor from #4. Go past the point when you’d normally stop self-pleasuring, and imagine your metaphor, your version of the roller coaster.

  • Get some extra help.

Finally, if you feel that this is too difficult to address on your own, see a practitioner who is experienced in coaching you toward feeling pleasure, rather than someone who will just listen to your story. Your past is important, of course, but changing the way your body experiences pleasure is a goal-focused experience that requires active strategies, too.

Above all else, remember that your body knows exactly what to do, and all evidence indicates that it can learn with sufficient practice. With time, focus, and ample self-love, amazing things can happen.