Aunt Vadge: I don’t feel sexual pleasure – is something wrong with me?

Hi Aunty Vadge, 

I worry that something might be wrong with me. I don’t seem to feel sexual pleasure. I’ve been able to feel a little bit by I guess kind of rubbing against hard surfaces (like sitting on a chair) but never by fingering or other means.

I’ve tried fingering myself and using a makeshift vibrator, but it didn’t really feel like anything.  Could something be broken? I’m worried I’ll never be able to orgasm and sex with my future partner will only feel good for him.

Thanks,
Dissatisfied

Age: 16
Country/Area: Canada

Dear Dissatisfied,

I remember when I first started trying to masturbate, it feeling like nothing interesting, and there was me thinking, ‘what the hell is all the fuss about?’. I tried all kinds of things inside myself, trying to ‘do’ something. None of it worked. Or, it would work for a bit, a tiny bit, and I’d be like ‘there it is!’ and then I would go too hard or whatever and it would all just go away. So fleeting.

So, I understand.

While it’s true that some people don’t feel sexual feelings (which is called being asexual), the idea that we could say this is what’s happening to you would be wrong.

When it comes to feeling sexual feelings, some people start really early and some people start really late. We don’t get to choose when our sexuality appears and our body becomes responsive, though it may coincide with the first person we really fancy a lot, who triggers off our animal lustiness. This animal lustiness may not appear as such; it might be a crush, it might be feelings of attraction, it might be feeling turned on when you think about them or are near them. You might fantasise about someone or more than one person.

This brings me directly to fantasy. Fantasy is a good place to start. If you close your eyes and pretend to be somewhere, your brain and body largely act like you are actually there, doing whatever you dream up, which is why fantasies and dreams of any kind are so great (or scary!). This means your fantasies can be a good way to unlock your body’s hidden turn-ons. No touching necessary. It can be hard to make up a fantasy unless there is an object of your fantasy, but the beauty of that is you can make up someone. They don’t need to be real. Think of someone you think is hot – it can be absolutely anyone – and dream up a scenario. Just keep trying scenarios until one feels good. Not physically, but in your mind. See where it leads you.

I remember my first ever sex dream, that blew my mind completely when I was about 14. I was in this big garden, and I wandered over to this gazebo thing, where there was a spa pool, with this smoking hot guy in it. Without a single word, I got into the spa, straddled him, and we had really hot sex. Once we were done, I just got out and walked away. That dream stayed with me, and made me lust after the perfect stranger. I was 100 per cent a virgin with zero sexual experiences to speak of.

This was about the time I was struggling to figure out how my vagina worked, and had had absolutely no success trying to even remotely turn myself on physically. The thing is, I realised then the power of my mind – turn the mind on and the body will follow. I’d start there. Forget the fingering for now, and focus on dreaming up some scenarios you think are hot. See how your body responds, all in good time, when you’re ready. Be in a safe, quiet space where nobody can interrupt you, give yourself some time, and just lay down and let your imagination run rampant. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t. But it’ll help you figure your body and brain out.

A good tip is to do this when you are ovulating – get a period tracker and learn how to establish when you are ovulating, as you will be at your most horny and receptive then. This gives you the best chance of conjuring up a hot storm, and if you do decide to touch yourself, aim for the time when you can feel that your panties are wet ‘for no reason’ – this is your ovuglob, this delightful slippery substance that indicates ovulation. It also tricks your brain into thinking your vagina is already wet, which is what happens when you are really turned on. Things get slippery and easy and feel extra good around this time.

Our inbuilt libido or sex drive can and does change a huge amount depending on what’s going on in our lives and our hormones. Stress is a true boner killer, and not feeling safe also isn’t great for feeling sexual.

Turning yourself on is a mighty hard task when you don’t feel good about where you’re at, but sometimes people with high libidos don’t let that stop them – this is hormonal, and not really up to you to decide on. It’s hard to know the other factors just from your letter, but it’s entirely possible that you have a lot of other stuff going on in your life that could put a damper on your ability to feel relaxed enough to be turned on.

Women require a nervous system shift change when it comes to being turned on, with your relaxed state being necessary for you to feel sexual pleasure and orgasm. Being stressed, anxious or tense is therefore a preventative. Easier said than done, but look up some guided meditations (you can find sexual ones too – this is a great idea to dive into your brain) or breathing exercises before you start trying to delve into your sexual brain and body.

If you are really worried, and have the means, you could go to a naturopath or herbalist and ask them for some herbal help – there are definitely things you can do to augment your body to be more conducive to feeling horny, relaxed, open and sexual.

You may have other signs of hormonal imbalances (high oestrogen, irregular periods, etc.) that can be worked on too, since normal hormone levels may be escaping you, and reducing your sexual response. You may also be on some medications that could interfere with your sexual response and libido.

Is it possible that you don’t want to have sex with men, either? Worth considering. Add a few women into your fantasies. You may find you’ve been barking up the wrong tree.

Also, you might be asexual – which is a perfectly fine way to be (and you don’t get much choice). You will not be with someone who doesn’t accept you just the way you are, and if that’s asexual, truly, then you’ll find someone that suits you in that – maybe it’s a slow, cautious entry into trying sex; maybe it’s an open relationship where they are committed to you, but have sex with other people; or maybe you would be in a relationship with another asexual person. Who knows! But who cares – that’s for the future.

For the time being, you have a lot to explore. Promise. You are probably just a completely normal 16-year-old finding her way sexually. Forget these mythical future partners, and focus on present you. You’ll be just fine no matter what!

Write anytime.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

 

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.