I’m 70 and have never been able to bring myself to orgasm

<span>‘I only feel aroused when I have chemistry with a man’ (posed by model).</span><span>Composite: Getty/GNM design/Getty</span>
‘I only feel aroused when I have chemistry with a man’ (posed by model).Composite: Getty/GNM design/Getty

I am a heterosexual woman who just turned 70. I have never been able to give myself pleasure or masturbate to achieve orgasm. I am perplexed as to why this is. I have always been able to climax through penetration during intercourse and often experience multiple orgasms that are very intense and satisfying, but never through oral or digital stimulation by a partner. I have had dreams – but very rarely – where I wake up having extremely intense multiple orgasms that can go on for a very long time. I know I was not touching myself – it was all stimulated by the dream. Touching myself does not bring any satisfaction so I just don’t pursue it. I only feel aroused when I have chemistry with a man I am attracted to physically and intellectually, and have thoughts of loving. I want to understand this about myself – I hope that you are able to shed some light on it.

You seem to understand who you are sexually and have analysed your sexual style quite well but I am wondering why you are curious about this now? Is there a particular reason why you are seeking more answers? Sometimes people focus more on self pleasuring at times when they lack confidence in their ability to attract a partner, or when they become fearful that, due to their particular circumstances, partners may not be readily available. While it is true that most people learn to self-pleasure fairly early on, there is no rule that says a person must learn to masturbate at any particular point in life – or ever. If you decide you want to try, find some time to begin to explore your own body and allow your mind to fantasise about the kind of loving, connected scenarios that do arouse you. The process will take some time, so be patient.

  • Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.