By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Apr 12, 2024
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Cite this Response

Alice! Health Promotion. "What is pre-orgasmic?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 12 Apr. 2024, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/what-pre-orgasmic. Accessed 24, May. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, April 12). What is pre-orgasmic?. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/what-pre-orgasmic.

Dear Alice,

I know this may seem like a strange question, but what exactly IS pre-orgasmic? Does it mean that a person hasn't yet had an orgasm, or that her body isn't ready yet? I remember reading in one of your answers that many women under the age of twenty are pre-orgasmic. Why is this? Also, what is/are the purpose(s) (besides pleasure) of orgasm in women?

Thank you for your help,

— Pre-Orgasmic

Dear Alice,

Hi, I'm not from the USA, so you may call me "the foreigner boy." I'm a 20-year-old male... I have had a lovely, nice, 19-year-old girlfriend for the past two years and I love her very much! We've started making love after six months of being together. We’ve had oral sex since the very beginning of the relationship. My girlfriend was a virgin before we met and me too. The problem is this: She never reaches orgasm! We really did try it all... it's very disturbing because she doesn't understand why I think it’s a BIG DEAL! And I really want her to have orgasms, but she just can't reach it... We really did try it ALL!

She tried to masturbate alone a few times and still had the same feeling... It’s not that she doesn't have fun, but she never really reaches the Peak! It seems as if she is stopping herself from having orgasm. Any secret I haven't read or heard about could be helpful! Thank you for your time!

— Foreigner Boy

Dear Pre-Orgasmic and Foreigner Boy, 

Orgasming is a topic that often causes an explosion of questions, so thank you for taking the time to submit yours! The term pre-orgasmic generally refers to the moments leading up to an orgasm. However, it can also be used to describe a person who has never experienced an orgasm before. Many people care about orgasms because they can contribute to a person’s overall well-being by decreasing stress and improving sleep, among other things. That said, there are several factors that can contribute to whether a person has an orgasm. While some of them may be related to the environment or the person's mindset, others may be more medical. 

Research has explored what they call the female orgasm and how it’s reached. It’s been shown as something that varies from person to person. While pleasure is considered a factor in orgasm research, it’s suspected that reaching orgasm may also be correlated to sexual satisfaction. Factors such as technique, which areas are stimulated, and the person hoping to orgasm’s mental state can all contribute to achieving orgasm. Additionally, there are many other physical and psychological conditions that may play a role in whether or not a person is able to reach orgasm. 

Because pre-orgasmic has two definitions, context is key when you’re using it. There’s the possibility that you haven’t discovered which techniques will get you or your partner there. In this case, pre-orgasmic means not having an orgasm yet. Because all bodies and minds are different, not all orgasms will look the same or will even be achieved the same way. Research has shown that stimulating the clitoris is one of the key elements of sexual pleasure for those assigned female at birth. Clitoral stimulation can be done with or without a partner, can occur alongside penetration, or can involve the use of sex toys. If sex involves another person, increasing or changing up foreplay is another technique that may increase pleasure and help you or your partner reach orgasm. 

If pre-orgasmic is being used to describe a person who experiences challenges achieving an orgasm, then the word anorgasmia is another term that may be helpful to mention. Anorgasmia describes when there’s a delay, infrequency, or lack of pleasure or occurrence associated with orgasms. This type of sexual dysfunction could be caused by: 

  • Age 
  • Medical conditions such as cancer 
  • Hormonal conditions 
  • Pelvic trauma 
  • Surgeries around or on reproductive organs 
  • Medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 
  • Reliance on masturbation 
  • Prior sexual trauma 
  • Trust or intimacy issues with a partner 
  • Anxiety or depression 
  • Low self-esteem or body image concerns 
  • Stigmas or attitudes about sex 

List adapted from Cleveland Clinic and The Journal of Sexual Medicine 

If the condition persists and it’s something you’ve been unable to work out on your own, speaking with a health care provider or mental health professional may help you find some answers. They may provide advice on medications, health complications, or types of therapies to work toward addressing the underlying causes. 

While orgasming may sound great, you might still be wondering if it has any benefits beyond just feeling good. Orgasming increases sexual satisfaction which has been found to play a role in people’s overall well-being. In fact, for many, a large aspect of sexual satisfaction may be marked by achieving orgasm. Additionally, orgasms may also heighten contentedness and relationship satisfaction, showing that orgasms are more than just a reflex marking the peak of sexual pleasure. 

Orgasms can be wonderful, but there’s no rush for you or your partner(s) to experience one! If you want to try out some of the recommended techniques, doing so at your own pace is advised. It’s also worth mentioning that some people may find that they don’t enjoy the feeling of an orgasm and prefer to experience pleasure in another way. Orgasms don’t have to be the only way to enjoy sexual contact (with yourself or others). 

Wishing you a safe journey to the climax! 

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