For most people, an orgasm means mind-blowing pleasure. But for one Italian man, there was nothing enjoyable about climaxing.
Getting aroused wasn’t a problem. Getting an erection wasn’t a problem. And when he masturbated or had sex with his wife, he could ejaculate. The problem was that when it happened, he didn’t feel any pleasure.
Welcome to the world of orgasmic anhedonia. It simply means 'orgasm without pleasure'. You know you're ejaculating all right, but you may as well be blowing your nose.
So what actually happens when you have an orgasm? Of course, it starts with sexual stimulation, when you masturbate or your partner touches your penis or clitoris. But what’s really happening is inside your brain.
The sperm pours out, but I feel nothing.
Your genitals are jam-packed with nerve endings that send messages to a part of your brain called the limbic system. This is connected to other parts of your brain involved in sex, including the all-important pleasure centre.
As the limbic system receives more messages, you get aroused and blood flows to your penis or clitoris. With enough stimulation, the limbic system gets so many messages that it triggers huge amounts of the hormone dopamine to be released in the pleasure centres of the brain. Whoosh. That’s when you experience orgasm and the intense pleasure, muscle spasms, and probably shouts that accompany it.
Perhaps I have a terrible disease.
Now, back to that guy who didn’t enjoy his orgasms. For years, he visited one doctor after another to try to figure out what was wrong with him. He explained that even though his penis got hard and he knew he was ejaculating, he simply didn’t feel anything when it happened. He had all sorts of medical tests done, but the result was always the same: there was nothing physically wrong with him.
Finally, he made his way to a clinic that specializes in helping people with sexual problems. Enter Dr Domenico Trotta, an expert in sexual medicine. Dr Trotta went through his patient history, and realized that this man’s orgasm problems weren’t in his penis, but in his head.
The man began therapy with Dr Trotta and together they started to figure out why he wasn’t able to enjoy his orgasms. What was needed, says Dr Trotta, was 'an understanding of the complexity of the male sexual mind'.
After a full psychological investigation, Dr Trotta confronted the man with the idea that he wasn’t allowing himself respond to erotic feelings. And he began to see that his problem really could be in his mind. It was down to a lifelong idea that sex was something to be repressed. He realized that he had been trying to control his sexual feelings so much that he was inhibiting his own sexual pleasure.
Finally, after years of holding in his orgasms, he gradually learnt to let himself go. For the first time in his life he experienced sexual pleasure. At last, when his sperm spurted, his limbic system also learnt to let fly with the dopamine. Whoosh!
Source: ‘A Case of Orgasmic Anhedonia in a Man with Blinkers On’ and ‘Psychosexual Male Orgasmic Disorders’, posters presented by Dr Domenico Trotta at WAS 2015.