July 24, 2017
To Orgasm or Not to Orgasm: A Battle of the Sexes
Orgasm: the subjective experience of intense pleasure and release at sexual climax, felt as a sequence of spasms in the genital area that can radiate to other parts of the body. But you don’t really need my Introduction to Human Sexuality textbook definition to know what I’m talking about. I mean we’ve all experienced this euphoric state…right? Not quite actually, in fact, it’s the disparity in orgasm frequency amongst women and men that led to the birth of the famous “orgasm gap”. Countless studies have shown that men report experiencing orgasm during sexual activity far more frequently than women. Early reports have even demonstrated that
only 29% of women always experience an orgasm during sex, while 44% of heterosexual men say that their opposite sex partners always experience orgasm. This interesting difference in opinions has a lot to do with the goal-oriented nature men often enter into a sexual experience with.
So what are we the experts doing to respond to the “orgasm gap”? On one hand, scientists have attempted to explain the orgasm gap through an examination of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. While on the other, our favourite sex columnists continue to publish sex guides with tips and tricks that promise to help women achieve orgasm. But so infrequently do the two sides of the same coin meet. It was these two thoughts that led me to think of whether 1) we can understand the orgasm gap beyond the sexes to include sexual orientation and 2) if there is any published scientific literature on ways to reduce the orgasm gap in an effort to help women achieve orgasm more frequently.
In my search, I stumbled across two studies that addressed orgasm frequency across sex and sexuality. According to the more recent of the two, Frederick et al. (2017), heterosexual men were most likely to say they usually-always orgasmed (95%), followed by gay men (89%), bisexual men (88%), lesbian women (86%) and heterosexual women (65%). What was really interesting, was that after using some very fancy statistics, the authors found that lesbian women had 3 times greater odds of always experiencing orgasm than heterosexual women. If you’re like any good sex scientist, you’re probably wondering
WHY?! Why does the “orgasm gap” even exist? If we take a sociocultural framework, some have argued that the gap is rooted in stigma against female pleasure. One that leads to less exploration of one’s sexuality, fantasies, preferences, physical body, and factors that bring them to orgasm. Another reason, according to the authors, could be the higher rate of body dissatisfaction amongst women versus men. Society’s view of the perfect female figure leads to insecurity, shame, and a difficulty imaging oneself as a sexual being for those who don’t fit this ideal. But wait…what about the disparity amongst lesbian versus heterosexual women? Well, it may be the case that lesbian women are more likely to practice a culture of turn-taking when it comes to pleasure. Lesbian women may also be in a better position to understand their partner’s bodies.
Alright, so now that we have a better understanding of the “orgasm gap”, let’s see if we can attempt to fix it. As with my other posts, let me leave you with some neuroscience guided wisdom. According to the literature, females who are more likely to orgasm have the following characteristics.
- Are more likely to receive oral sex and have longer durations of sex.
- Try new positions as well as anal stimulation.
- Include deep kissing, manual genital stimulation in addition to vaginal intercourse.
- Bring technology into their sex life, by calling or texting about sex.
- Wear sexy clothing, act our fantasies and incorporate sexy talk.
Emotional & Mental:
- Express love during sex.
- Experience self-love.
- Be more satisfied with their relationship and communication with their partner.
- Ask for what they want in bed and let their partner know when an act leads to pleasure.
I hope that you find this advice most influential on your sex life and overall relationship quality. Happy orgasming!
Daniel Michaels holds a bachelor of science in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate in neuropsychiatry. His expertise as a scientist includes not only his work on sexual trauma but also all things to do with sex and the brain. He has collaborated and trained with some of the leading scientists in the field of sex neuroscience. Daniel is also a regular contributor to PornHub’s Sexual Health and Wellness website, which you can find here. He is passionate about psychoeducation and has spoken at various academic and public events. If you have any questions about your brain on sex you can reach him at [email protected].