Psychological and Behavioral Treatment of Female Orgasmic Disorder

Sex Med Rev. 2021 Apr;9(2):194-211. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2020.07.007. Epub 2020 Oct 14.


Introduction: Female orgasmic disorder (FOD) is defined as the absence, delay, infrequency, or marked diminishment in intensity of orgasm in at least 75% of sexual experiences, persisting for at least 6 months and causing distress, has specified subtypes, and affects up to 28% of women in the United States and up to 46% in countries across Asia. Orgasmic difficulties are relatively common and create distress for a substantial number of women, though efficacious treatments exist.

Objective: This article provides a review of psychological treatment of FOD.

Methods: A literature search was conducted using PsycINFO to identify research reporting methods and outcomes of psychological treatment of FOD in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks. Search terms were female orgasmic disorder, anorgasmia, female sexual dysfunction, and orgasm. This search was supplemented with hand-searching references of review articles and journal articles.

Results: Psychological treatment has been shown to be effective in helping women with FOD to gain or regain the ability to have orgasms, with higher success rates overall of treating lifelong or generalized vs acquired or situational FOD. Of the variety of treatment approaches that have been tested, the most consistent support emerges for directed masturbation, sensate focus, and psychotherapy. Approaches with little evidence for efficacy as a primary mode of treatment include systematic desensitization, bibliotherapy, and coital alignment technique training.

Conclusion: While existing research provides a solid foundation of knowledge, treatment of FOD has seen little innovation since the 1980s. Future research should aim for broader understanding of etiologies of all types of FOD, understanding reasons for lack of treatment success for women who have not improved with treatment, and identifying ways of tailoring FOD treatment and success rates for multicultural and community populations. Erica Marchand. Psychological and Behavioral Treatment of Female Orgasmic Disorder. Sex Med Rev 2021;9:194-211.

Keywords: Anorgasmia; Female Orgasm; Female Orgasmic Disorder; Female Sexual Dysfunction; Orgasm.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coitus
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Masturbation
  • Orgasm*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological* / therapy
  • United States