One Moms Quest for an Orgasm

Crista Orenda essays

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I have Major Depressive Disorder. Came out of the womb depressed. The battle against my intense depression and anxiety has shaped my entire life. Lost years to intense depressive episodes, unable to do the most basic tasks for myself. My mother recognized my depression early on, putting me into therapy and then antidepressants. For 15 years we bounced through different medications, but nothing alleviated my symptoms in a way that was worth the side effects.

Years with an amazing therapist finally gave me the coping mechanisms to face life. I stumbled into my career, taking a job at an adult boutique on a whim. See, I came out of the womb depressed, but I also came out of the womb with my hand on my clit. Masturbation has been a literal lifesaver for me, when there was nothing but darkness, I could find pleasurable feelings. It connected me to something that actually felt good. My passion and openness on the topic made me a skilled sex educator. My vibrant career made life worth living.

Then came motherhood. I left my career to focus on writing and my budding family. I fought my way through intense postpartum depression after both of my children, and avoided medication because I was breastfeeding. Again, masturbation helped me through the darkness, reminding me that there was pleasure to be had in life and that I was still a sexual creature even though small people called me Mama. Finally my youngest weaned, and I decided to try antidepressants again. My doctor and I decided I should try a tricyclic antidepressant called Amitriptyline, as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), had never worked for me.

It works. Almost immediately I felt better, then I began to feel amazing. For the first time in my 32 years, I enjoy life. Getting out of bed is easy. I look forward to my day. Things that would have previously thrown me into a tailspin are manageable. Life is beautiful.

One problem. My orgasm is gone. Like so many other medications, Amitriptyline can cause anorgasmia or Coughlan’s syndrome, a type of sexual dysfunction where one cannot achieve orgasm even with adequate stimulation. Masturbation and partnered sex still feels incredible, but my intense orgasms do not happen. I refuse to accept that I have to give up my orgasm in exchange for finally enjoying life.

So I began my Orgasm Quest. I’ve set aside time each night after the kids are asleep to work on getting my orgasm back though masturbation. As I’m a sexuality writer and educator, I began to blog and tweet about my Quest, using the hashtag #OrgasmQuest. Though my career I’ve talked to countless people who were also anorgasmic from medications. Almost all felt shame talking about their struggles. I choose to be public with my experience to start busting the stigmas that surround mental illness and sexuality. I want conversations to happen. For folks to feel less alone, less broken.

It’s safe to say that’s happened. Over the last few weeks #OrgasmQuest has been covered across the globe. I’ve been on live TV talking to Dr Drew on HLN, podcasts, radio shows and Quest has been featured more articles than I’ve been able to keep up with. #OrgasmQuest has been wildly successful. The conversations I so want to see in the world are happening, and I’ve managed to get myself over the edge a handful of times! I’m incredibly proud of the work I’m doing though #OrgasmQuest, both personally and professionally. My openness may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m trying to change the world, one orgasm attempt at a time.


About the Author

Crista Orenda

is a progressive pleasurist, sex-positive parent and intersectional feminist.

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February 2015 – XO
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