Anorgasmia is exactly what it sounds like: a condition in which a person can not achieve orgasm. Though much more common in women, it can be a problem for men too. Many of us will experience anorgasmia at some point in our lives. Anorgasmia can be further classified as being primary, secondary, general and situational.
Primary anorgasmia is what we call it when a person has never had an orgasm. Women can especially have this problem because of cultural beliefs. Whereas boys are expected to masturbate and engage in self-exploration at puberty, girls are usually discouraged from touching themselves. Girls often internalize messages that sex is wrong, vulvas are dirty, and to have an interest in their sexual response is weird or slutty. Females also very often pick up on another message, which is that males are the source of sexual pleasure. So a lot of women expect their partner to give them an orgasm, vs. understanding how to provide that for themselves. When a partner fails to give them an orgasm they can begin to believe there is something terribly wrong with themselves, their partner or the relationship. This problem can often be remedied by exploring whether there are medical reasons for the lack of orgasm (such as medication side effects, hormone issues, or diabetes) or if the issue is mainly psychological in origin. Sometimes all a woman needs is information about her anatomy and the right tools for helping her explore her body and response. When a person learns how to give themselves pleasure, they are more capable of showing someone else how to do it.
Secondary anorgasmia is lack of orgasm as a secondary cause to another condition in someone who had previously been able to orgasm. Examples include medical problems (such as nerve damage or depression) and chemical dependency (like opiate or alcohol addiction). Oftentimes healing or managing the underlying condition can help the orgasmic response come back.
Situational anorgasmia is the ability to experience orgasm in certain situations or with some partners but not others. This type is quite common. An example of situational anorgasmia is that seen in some younger guys. It is one that may be growing with the widespread consumption of Internet porn. Why I say it is more common in younger men is that guys now over 35 probably had some sexual experiences before the ready availability of Internet porn. Many guys who are younger had their first exposure to sex via Internet porn and for some of these guys who did not also have experiences with real life partners, they can over the years condition their penises to only respond to masturbation (usually in a very specific favorite way) while watching porn. For some of these guys they have no problem climaxing while masturbating, but can not do so with a partner.
Lastly, general anorgasmia is the inability to orgasm under any circumstance or with any partner.
It's important to note that many sexual dysfunctions, including anorgasmia, can co-occur with desire issues. Naturally, having anorgasmia can be incredibly frustrating, leading a person to, in time, potentially lose desire for sexual interaction. The partner of the person suffering from anorgasmia may also develop a loss of desire due to feelings of inadequacy or failure in not being able to bring their lover to orgasm. This can lead to avoidance of sex on both sides, making treatment of the anorgasmia complex, as the desire issues must be dealt with as well.
If you are experiencing anorgasmia and would like help, find a sex therapist in your area. A directory is available at www.aasect.org.