I watch women explain why they love orgasms in a documentary. In French. They giggle and laugh about the topic and their embarrassment. I sit with envy. It seems to come so naturally to them. The short-haired brunette says she’s been masturbating since she was twelve.
I always thought it was a “me” thing. Apparently, numerous women think this, which is comforting and daunting.
To deflect the shame from myself I decided to blame it on my sexual partners. Which was partially true. My first long sexual relationship was definitely one-sided, not to mention emotionally abusive. The idea of focusing on me during sex didn’t come up until after he had cheated on me and we broke up.
My life only gets more frustrating when it’s six years later, I’ve had several new partners, an abundance of time with myself, and I still have the same problem.
So being the scientist that I am; I decided to change all the variables that I could.
I am twenty-two and I am on an orgasm quest.
In the last year, I’ve begun changing different factors of my life that would alter me sexually.
The antidepressants I’ve faithfully since I was sixteen. The last three years I’ve been on the wonderfully classic, Prozac.
Unbeknownst to me, a highly common side effect of Prozac is decreased sex drive and difficulty achieving orgasm. Several discussion boards on the Internet held frustrations and rants that I felt so weirdly euphoric to discover. I’ve become obsessed with reading similar stories and revisited the same websites over and over again.
I went to the doctor determined to solve this problem. She changed my meds to Effexor. A seemingly ok med, I went back to the pharmacy for my refill and was unaware, that they were unaware the doctor and I had upped my dose.
As a result, I was taking only half the dose I needed for about twelve days. This, catapulted with falling dangerously behind in school, missing 75% of my classes, and my disastrous mental health, led me to swallow more than a few Prozac.
I then checked myself into the hospital, where I was given the option of a voluntary psych hold or an involuntary psych hold. I didn’t stay long, but that night was the most dreadful night of my life. I cried for hours, and when my roommate’s catastrophically loud snoring would not let me sleep, I finally laughed at the situation I put myself in.
Once I was home I realized the incorrect dosage and understood that I had been having withdrawals. Effexor withdrawals are said to be the worst of antidepressants. Many have compared it to detoxing from Heroin, some claiming it is worse.
The annoying thing about depression is, now that I’m trying to recall what I did last fall and how I got there, I can barely remember. Those six weeks terrible weeks have slipped into one.
All because I want to have a normal sex life.
As a young woman, I consider birth control.
What does it do for me? My choice, Depo-Provera keeps me from getting my period and therefore no period cramps, bleeding, crabbiness, etc.
Also, you know, prevents me from getting pregnant.
Because of my quest, I looked into the side effects of this shot. They are:
- Decreased interest in sex*
- Potential loss of bone mineral density
- Breast soreness
- Irregular periods and breakthrough bleeding
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight gain
*So by now I’ve decided all pharmaceuticals are against me.
I can’t quantify how much this affects my bone density, depression and sexual desires. Last year, I stopped taking it and finally had my period for the first time in five years.
It was extremely awful and I went back on it the next week.
Now, with more determination and lots of pads, I try again.
I am ready for the blood.
To help you better understand my quest, I’m going to give you some history into my not so mysterious life.
I bring you back to fourteen. Almost cute hair, too big of boobs for my body, and skinny jeans that showed my butt crack, every single day.
Three of us girls walked down the railroad tracks to go get gas station food for lunch. We were probably sneaking in a cigarette off school grounds too. We were talking about sex and Kaci shared that she didn’t orgasm during sex, but she did when they did, other things.
I found this fascinating. Not because I wasn’t having sex, but because I hadn’t even considered the female orgasm.
Seven years later the conversation has slightly changed. It’s become dreadfully embarrassing. I’m basically an adult, yet I can’t fulfill this adult category.
For my twenty-first birthday, my sister drew on every piece of our old family Jenga set to create what is known as Drunk Jenga. I have a serious distaste for games, but every time she visits she wrangles me into playing. Most of the pieces say things like drink for how many siblings you have and perform I’m a little teapot or take five drinks. But one, one daunting little piece says drink for how many orgasms you’ve had in one night.
My sister looks at me every time it comes up. I dread its existence. I could get rid of it, but there would be a glaring hole in the block tower.
In smaller groups, I talk about it with friends.
“Oh, I mean I haven’t. It’s fine.” Me.
“Wait. You mean never?” Them.
I listen to a podcast featuring Betty Dodson. A sex educator who wrote the book “Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving,” a pretty revolutionary book that came out in 1987. Betty is now eighty-seven and just as fiery as ever.
She tells a story about a ninety-year-old woman who came in for a one on one sex workshop. The woman had never experienced an orgasm and wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was about. Betty pulled out the trusty magic wand vibrator and explained what to do. So, after the big event, the women’s words were something like, “oh, is that it?”
The story is comical, and much better when you hear Betty tell it. It gives me hope, but also a good level of fear.
I don’t want to be ninety and still not have joined the orgasm club.
As I get older and slightly wiser, I have learned that talking to your sexual partners is the key to an at least decent time in bed.
Before my marvelous current partner, these conversations would happen, but were extremely unpleasant and not necessarily helpful.
“Umm, yeah, this is fine.” Is not the answer anyone wants to hear in bed.
“Well, what can I do?” The seemingly concerned guy asks.
“Nothing, seriously. I’m used to it.”
I really don’t have much else to say. It’s true, I’m used to it.
They say they feel bad for me, which makes it worse. And at this point, I just want them to leave so I can climb under my covers and never come out.
Well, until I have an orgasm with my vibrator. Then I might leave my fluffy blankets.
A month ago, still on Effexor, I decided to change my meds again. Effexor still has a high chance of affecting libido and ability to orgasm, and I will not settle for an almost beneficial medication.
So, once again I am tapering off Effexor and adding the new, exciting, Wellbutrin.
Unflinching, I fight the withdrawals symptoms of nausea, hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, disorientation, mental fog, dizziness, increased anxiety, apathy, vertigo, brain “zaps,” serotonin syndrome, eyesight problems, body aches, and numbness.
All so that one day I can have an orgasm.
Celeste Smith is a graduate of Hamline University, with a BFA in creative writing and a minor in English. She currently works at a dog daycare, and spends her free time with her own pooches, reading romance novels, and trying new doughnut places.