Climaxing may be the high point of sex for a good portion of the sexually active population, but for about 80 percent of women and 28 percent of men (yes, they can have difficulty too), the orgasm remains elusive. While failing to reach the big “O” is often chalked up to psychological reasons, such as stress or anxiety, a recent study has found that the problem lies more in the body than the mind for some.

To gather their information, the team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the Indiana University School of Medicine reviewed available literature on sexual anatomy and neuroanatomy in an effort to discover potential reasons for why men and women might fail to orgasm. For men, the ability to orgasm is based on a delicate balance between the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body during periods of rest, and the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. The researchers found that men’s sexual dysfunction often arises from an imbalance in these systems. For example, in patients with lifelong premature ejaculation, the sympathetic system is typically overactive, and the parasympathetic system is underactive.

For women, on the other hand, dysfunction is often more of a physical problem than a nerve one. The clitoris, a small erectile tissue within the vagina, is most associated with the female orgasm. During sex, it moves toward the outer vaginal wall, and, according to the researchers, the closer it gets to the wall, the more likely the woman is to achieve an orgasm. This is most likely to occur when having sex in missionary (woman on bottom) and cowgirl position (woman on top), IFL Science reported.

While the clitoris plays an important role in the female orgasm, the study did not rule out the existence of the “G-spot,” but rather proposed that the elusive location may vary and that every woman may have “her own constellation of pudendal nerve branching that creates her own, personal G-spot location.” The distance between the clitoris and the vaginal opening has also been found to affect orgasmic success.

In a press release, lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Emhardt said that although we often believe the sexual experience and the ability to climax is based on confidence, ability to trust, and openness, this study may suggest otherwise. “What if variations in sexual anatomy actually set the foundation for differences in sexual experience, and we aren't in control of our sexual experiences as much as we once thought?” she proposed.

Understanding the specific anatomical reasons behind sexual dysfunction could lead to individualized medicine, tailored to each patient, which will help to ensure that every sexual experience is a satisfying one. After all, orgasms aren't just fun, they're healthy as well. Sexual climaxes have been shown to keep the mind young and release pain-relieving and sleep-inducing hormones.

Source: Emhardt E, Siegel J, Hoffman L. Anatomic Variation and Orgasm: Could Variations in Anatomy Explain Differences in Orgasmic Success? Clinical Anatomy. 2016