Narcolepsy and the Female Orgasm

The female orgasm.

Those 3 words inspire strong though polarizing reactions. In many cultures, it is taboo. In some countries, it is feared and even hated.

Female orgasms and global cultures

For example, some cultures practice female genital mutilation. This practice is performed in 30 countries worldwide. I am lucky to live in a country where female genital mutilation is banned. Others are not so fortunate. As many as 200 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation.1

These procedures serve no medical purpose and are purely done to eliminate the female orgasm at its source. These have chronic health complications involved afterward, including severe chronic pain and chronic infections.

Female orgasms are unique

Community members have already shared their perspectives on how their narcolepsy symptoms affect their sex life. I was inspired by some of these articles to share my experience.

Studies show that the female orgasm is completely unique. Brain activity of the female orgasm shows activation in areas that are not activated during the male orgasm.2

Cataplexy, antidepressants, and orgasm

As a person with narcolepsy, orgasm has become increasingly complicated for a variety of reasons. Taking antidepressants to cull my cataplexy attacks has resulted in an inability to fully reach sexual completion as a side effect, which is obviously not fun.

I’ve experienced a variety of severe side effects from medications in the past, including mild psychosis, so this is one that I am willing to deal with for now.

The challenge of cataplexy

On the other hand, I’ve found that having cataplexy of any kind makes orgasm more difficult. I experience cataplexy during sex due to the highly emotional nature of the activity. A variety of muscle spasms occur during the female orgasm that helps the process along.

Cataplexy makes it difficult for these spasms to occur. Paralysis comes and goes during the climax process, slowing it down significantly.

Managing sleep attacks

Sleep attacks are also a troublesome symptom during sex. Having a conversation with my partner about my symptoms is one important lesson I’ve learned. Implementing a “safe word” for sexual activities is a great idea, not only for people with narcolepsy but for anyone who is sexually active. A safe word when employed means that all activities stop immediately, no questions asked.

I often have sleep attacks during all activities (yes, even sex!) In fact, emotionally charged situations are a trigger for my sleep attacks. Thus, sexual activity is a huge trigger for my sleep attacks. When I am having a sleep attack, I can slur my words and have trouble stringing sentences together. Knowing that I can say a single word and have a sexual experience halt is comforting. In these vulnerable situations, having a safe word helps me feel... well, safe.

Communicating with my partner

One thing that scares me, though, is that cataplexy often makes it impossible for me to speak, depending on the strength of the attack. In this case, a safe word would not be helpful. The best I’d be able to do in that situation is wait for the attack to pass. Having a conversation with my partner about what to expect during sex with a narcoleptic is important to me.

In what ways does your narcolepsy affect your sex life?

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