Too Anxious To Orgasm?
Women's Health South Africa|November 2019
Too Anxious To Orgasm?
Performance anxiety is something that only happens to people with penises, right? Incorrect. It’s about time you stopped putting the blocks on getting your rocks off
Emily Abbate and Gemma Askham

There’s a tongue on your clitoris. It knows its way around your vulva like David Attenborough knows his animals and nerve endings are firing. So why haven’t you come yet? You haven’t been counting the minutes, but if your partner were working their way through the alphabet, you suspect they’d be reaching Q by now – M, at the very least.

You cast your eyes downwards, a reassuring glance that says, “I’ll come soon, I swear.” But surfing a wave of pleasure isn’t easy when you’re wondering when your last wax was, how badly their jaw must be aching and what the view is really like down there. It’s female performance anxiety (FPA) and it’s as effective at keeping you from coming as picturing a puce-coloured president with his tiny hands all over you.

“It’s anxiety about coming or not being able to come,” confirms sexologist Dr Gloria Brame. The anxiety trigger could be that you’re fretting about taking too long to climax, whether you’re doing sex “right” or a lingering issue with your partner.

Throw into the mix decades of internalised misogyny that’s left you convinced your bits are best left covered up and it’s no wonder you’re freaking out about the proximity of someone else’s face to your clitoris.

“The weight of those myths dissociates women from the pleasure they’re having,” adds Brame. “An off-switch snaps and orgasmic potential vanishes.”

What’s responsible for your pleasure going up in a puff of smoke is that old killjoy cortisol. Released when you feel anxious, cortisol suppresses the feel-good brain chemicals normally activated during arousal. Physically? The same anxious dread you’d feel walking into a party and spotting an ex gets channelled into your vagina (read: tense, to the point that penetration can feel uncomfortable.)

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November 2019