Why can I only reach the big O when I'm drunk?

Dear Dr. Patti:
I am very happy in my marriage, I love my husband dearly, but I can rarely reach an orgasm. When I do climax it is when he performs oral sex, and I have to be intoxicated -- and even then I have trouble. He tries so very hard to please me, but I have a huge mental block and just cannot seem to relax, even after many years of marriage. I want to be able to do this freely when I am sober. --L


Dear L:
No one deserves a sex life in which you have to be drunk or drinking to enjoy pleasure, your body and loving from your partner. You need to seek some therapy or counseling, because having to be drinking in order to be sexual is known in 12-step program lingo as "self medicating." My hope for you is that you will find the courage, time and motivation to work with a qualified sexologically trained professional. You can find listings of sexologists near you by contacting the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists and the American Board of Sexology. You may also decide to work with a qualified counselor by telephone, which is an increasingly popular method of treatment.

Next: Overcoming Sexual Trauma

Being numbed by alcohol means that you are not there during sex. I suspect that someone or something affected you when you were a young girl or young woman. Perhaps it was sexual trauma or abuse: You were ridiculed by your peers or shamed about your body by an older sibling, or you suffered through an incident of inappropriate, coercive or violent touch -- sexual or otherwise. It may simply be that your own family's or religion's values taught that sex was wrong, bad or dirty. Whatever happened to you in your childhood or young-adult years, it can have a lasting effect until you discover the path to be healed. I recommend a book on overcoming past abuse by Wendy Maltz, The Courage to Heal, to see if the pattern fits with your experience.

I also suggest a visit to your local AA group to learn and see how others have coped with alcohol as their addictive drug or "medication." Often these self-help programs are offered at no charge to attendees and can give you the strength, insights and sense of support to help you work through your issues and recover.

Finally, if you can find the trust to be open to your own erotic nature, you will succeed. And if you can open up and trust both love and sexual intimacy, you will find the pleasure bond you deserve.

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