Our resident sexologist Richelle Menzies answers your questions about all things sex and sexuality.
Coming or going
I’m a cis guy in my early thirties with what I now understand might be called sexual anhedonia.
About a month after I first started wanking, I stopped feeling anything when I cum. I only started to get faint orgasms a few years ago, and it’s still not every time. For about 15 years, I never felt anything when I ejaculated.
Can you please tell me more about this condition, what causes it, and anything I might be able to do about it?
– Uncomfortably Numb
Hello Uncomfortably Numb,
This sounds very concerning for you, and your diagnosis seems to possibly be correct.
The word anhedonia refers to the inability to experience pleasure from an activity normally considered pleasurable.
Orgasmic or sexual anhedonia is also called pleasure dissociative orgasmic dysfunction (PDOD), and in people with penises, it’s also known as ejaculatory anhedonia. This means you are unable to feel pleasure when you climax.
PDOD doesn’t affect sex drive – people with this rare condition still feel driven to have sex, still ejaculate and orgasm, but the pleasure is missing.
Experts believe that PDOD occurs because of a problem with neurochemicals, particularly dopamine. Despite sexual stimulation, there is a disconnect between the sensation and the part of the brain that recognizes it as pleasurable.
Sexual anhedonia may be caused by:
- Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), also called inhibited sexual desire
- Low levels of testosterone or high levels of prolactin
- Spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis
- Substance use
- Use (or previous use) of SSRI antidepressants or anti-psychotics
- Fatigue or physical illness.
People who do not feel pleasure during orgasm are encouraged to see their doctor to ascertain any physical cause before entering counselling to explore a possible psychological cause.
Fifty shades of grey
I’m a very young guy who is attracted to old white men with grey hair.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop these thoughts, and it can be distressing. I’m so uncomfortable around guys of that age, and I just want it to stop. I’m getting depressed and I need guidance.
Is there a term for this kind of specific attraction? Can you tell me why this is happening?
I’m trying to understand myself and live without shame. Any advice would be great.
– GILF Lover
Hello GILF Lover,
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with you and no need to feel ashamed. Many people are attracted to those older than them for many reasons.
Society places a lot of shame on some people in relationships with age differences. Look at the different ways people view an older man with a younger woman, versus an older woman with a younger man.
Congratulations on exploring this and the shame associated. I would first look at why you feel uncomfortable, what is it about this attraction that distresses you, and why you want it to stop.
Sometimes, the more we learn about something and understand what is behind our reactions, we can shift from shame to pride.
There are several terms depending on the age of the younger person, age difference between people, and reason for attraction to older people. The most encompassing term is gerontophilia, which refers to a lifelong proclivity and is very uncommon.
Self-reporting indicates that up to 0.15% of gay men are gerontophiles. This is a fraction of a percent of gay men who are sexually attracted only to the elderly (at least 60 years old, and/or 30 years older than they are).
While this is uncommon, it is nothing to be ashamed about. Continue exploring what it means to you, possibly with the support of a counsellor, and enjoy the company of the people you are attracted to.
I love sex and have had plenty of partners, but I still rarely get off from most activities. I often use a clitoral vibrator either as part of sex or by myself.
Things are usually great, but sometimes it takes me ages to finish, or I can’t get there at all.
Is this common with vibrator use? Is there a psychological or physical reason I might sometimes struggle to orgasm, and do I need to worry about getting too used to toys?
– Good Vibrations
Dear Good Vibrations,
It is not unusual for someone with a clitoris to find less pleasure in sexual activities that don’t involve the clitoris, such as penetration. It is also not unusual for some people to need more stimulation than others.
As for getting too used to toys, some people get used to a particular way of receiving pleasure and reaching orgasm. We can train our bodies to one particular type of stimulation, if that is all we use.
Some people find a vibrator the quickest way to orgasm because it can be so powerful. Can you get used to it? The short answer is yes.
It is a good idea to mix it up, try different types of stimulation, focus on pleasure rather than orgasm, and find out what else feels nice.
When you focus on orgasm, you can create anxiety about achieving it. Moving the focus away from orgasm and onto pleasure can help you get out of your head and into your body. This is the main reason people have trouble achieving climax.
Slow things down, enjoy the ride, and don’t worry about the destination. Take the time to see what sensations feel nice on different parts of the body, take yourself on an erotic date, and explore your body with different types of touch.
Don’t worry about orgasm, just enjoy. If you get there, then that’s a bonus.
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