Everything You Need to Know About the Orgasm Gap (and How to Close It)
We need to talk about sexual pleasure and orgasms.
Women deserve great sex. And not just great sex, but shame-free, enjoyable, orgasmic pleasure.
Year after year, women are becoming more comfortable with their sexuality and asking for what they want in the bedroom, but there’s still a significant gap in orgasms reported by heterosexual men and women across the board.
One study says “heterosexual men were most likely to say they usually-always orgasmed when sexually intimate (95%), followed by gay men (89%), bisexual men (88%), lesbian women (86%), bisexual women (66%), and heterosexual women (65%) (Frederick et al., 2018). Let’s take a closer look at this information.
Of all women, lesbian women reported that they experience orgasms more often than bisexual and heterosexual women when sexually intimate. Only about two-thirds of heterosexual women report that they usually have orgasms when having sex. Shocking, right? So why is there a 30% gap between heterosexual men and women?
Let’s Talk About Sex
Let’s start with the fact that sexual pleasure is still somewhat of a taboo topic. It’s rarely discussed in sexual education, and when it comes to women, often not discussed at all. We’ve been taught that it’s normal for a man to want and enjoy frequent sex, whereas many women are shamed and stigmatized for sharing those same desires. It’s true, the world is becoming a more sex-positive place, but many women still feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their sexual desires and pleasure with a partner. Lack of communication can lead to a variety of outcomes such as faking or pretending to orgasm (please stop doing this!), having mediocre sex, or feeling sexually inhibited—meaning, there’s a low desire for sexual experiences or a lack of comfort during those experiences. These outcomes are not only harmful to your pleasure and satisfaction but they’re hindering you from living your best sex life. Talking about sex and pleasure with a partner doesn’t just strengthen your relationship but it can lead to sexual liberation, overall sexual satisfaction and, are you ready? … MORE ORGASMS!
Stimulation (Might Be) Required
Studies show that engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors during intimate encounters contribute to the experience of orgasms. It’s also important to note that not all orgasms are the same. Nearly 1 out of 5 (18%) women said that intercourse alone is sufficient for an orgasm, about 2 out of 5 (36%) women said they needed clitoral stimulation for an orgasm, and another 2 out of 5 (36%) women said that clitoral stimulation is not essential, however, their orgasms feel better if the clitoris is stimulated during intercourse.
The takeaway here is that women’s sexual arousal preferences vary. The desire for genital touching (i.e., clitoral stimulation, vaginal fingering, oral sex) and the duration of these activities, varies also. Additional factors that can impact someone’s ability to experience an orgasm include stress, feeling depressed, and taking certain medications, amongst others. Typically, women take more time to reach full arousal compared to their male partners, which can also be a factor.
Closing the Gap
In order to close the orgasm gap, sexual communication needs to happen. Partners can encourage this communication by playing sexual games, talking about sexual fantasies, and/or discussing sexual activities that have been pleasurable in the past. If you’re a woman who needs more stimulation during sex, consider adding a toy into the mix. If you need tips on how to build intimacy with a partner, check out our 7 step guide to next-level physical intimacy. Interested in spicing things up a bit? Dive into the world of kink!
The bottom line is—your sexual satisfaction is just as important, and just as deserved, as your partner’s. The goal isn’t always achieving orgasm, it’s having fun and being present in the experience. Sex is about being able to be authentic, free, relaxed, and comfortable. Enjoy the process, and you will find the goal. Let your pleasure be your measure.