At Vibrant, we take inclusivity seriously. We strive to only use gendered language when absolutely necessary. The following article employs gendered language because there is staggeringly little information on non-binary individuals’ rates of orgasm. That needs to change, but we still want to have a conversation about the very different experiences heterosexual, cis women are having during the sex they are having with heterosexual, cis men. So, let’s begin.
You may or may not have heard of the orgasm gap, but chances are if you are a person with a vulva you have experienced it….
The orgasm gap is the inequality between the number of orgasms men have versus the number of orgasms that women have.
Studies show that 65% of people with vulvas report having an orgasm during a sexual encounter, while people with penises reported that 95% of sexual encounters end in orgasm for them.
However, not all women experience an orgasm gap. In fact, studies show that the orgasm gap for lesbian women is much smaller than for heterosexual women. Additionally, women tend to have a better rate of orgasms solo than with a heterosexual partner. While this research might sound somewhat discouraging, it doesn’t mean you need change your sexual preference or swear off men in order to close the gap!
Unfortunately, the stereotype lingers that women are more “difficult”, or “harder to please” than men. But this just isn’t true. Here’s a few REAL reasons why women are having fewer orgasms than men and solutions to fix them!
Penetrative sex isn’t a reliable source of orgasms for people with vulvas!
Exhibit A: This dude not knowing what the clitoris looks like
If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by the lack of orgasms you have from vaginal intercourse, don’t despair. You are not alone! In fact, the majority of women are not able to reach climax from penetrative sex alone. Vaginal intercourse has long experienced a sort of mythical ideal of being the “ultimate” form of sexual expression. However, most women don’t find this a reliable way to orgasm…so WTF? If this form of sex is considered by some to be the default, then why isn’t it working?
It really comes down to one thing… the clitoris, and tiny differences in its placement within your genitals.
There is a growing body of research that shows that the shorter the distance between the clitoris and the urethra, the more likely you are to achieve orgasm from penetration alone. Women who have distances shorter than 1-inch enjoy much higher rates of orgasm from PIV sex, whereas those whose distance exceeds 1-inch are much less likely to reach the orgasm from just penetration.
Baby, you were born this way, and though it might seem monumentally unfair, all is not lost.
If penis in vagina sex doesn’t do the trick reliably, then what does? Well, the answer is: almost anything else.
There are so many different ways to have sex in addition to the act of intercourse, all of which heighten chances of achieving an orgasm for women. Mutual masturbation, stimulation of the genitals using hands, or oral sex are all great ways to rev the engine. The myth that women take longer than men to orgasm is probably due to the fact that PIV sex isn’t stimulating them in the right ways. When stimulated correctly, women are just as orgasmic as men, and sometimes we get to enjoy the perk of multiple orgasms as well!
Being critical of yourself KILLS pleasure…
Society puts mammoth amounts of pressure on women. There is pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, and behave a certain way. The standard that women are held to is so extreme that many women are left feeling ashamed and inadequate about their bodies, their lives, and their choices.
As one can imagine, this sort of shame and stress is an absolute killer of pleasure. Sometimes, we get so caught up in looking and behaving a certain way, that we fail to be in the moment and enjoy what’s happening. This is very true of sex. Anyone who has ever been in the middle of a sexual encounter and can’t stop thinking “How does my butt look from this angle?” knows exactly what I mean.
The truth is that we are all our own harshest critic.
It’s highly unlikely your partner is focusing on your cellulite, or how many hours it’s been since you showered, or if your hair is a mess. Only you think about those things and being stuck inside your own head is a surefire way to NOT have an orgasm.
Self-Acceptance and Positive Focus
Learning to accept yourself isn’t always easy, but it is an attainable goal for everyone.
First off, try to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Each day look at yourself in the mirror and mentally note all of the things you love about your body. Doing this over and over helps to form the pathways in the brain that will keep you focused on the positive and less inclined to dwell on the negative. It’s easy to get distracted during sex if you aren’t feeling your most confident and that’s normal. If you notice your thoughts start to wander to body issues, take a minute to focus on your breath and really be in the moment.
Concentrate on the sensations in your body, and on your partner. Nagging thoughts may continue to pop into your head, accept them, and try to refocus on the present. By doing this, you don’t get caught up in a spiral of shame and self-doubt and you can relax and fully enjoy the interaction with your partner. Sex is best when you are grounded in your body and not caught up in your head.
Your partner doesn’t know you aren’t having orgasms.
Studies show that men often think women are having more orgasms than they are actually having. Perhaps it is simply the ego that wants to believe you reached the finish line, but another culprit for this confusion is perpetuated by women. I’m talking about faking orgasms.
Ladies, if you fake it, he doesn’t know you didn’t make it!
While all of that moaning and panting is good for his man-pride, it can backfire when he’s “done” and you’re left feeling unsatisfied. Many women are afraid to ask a man to continue pleasuring her after he is done. While his penis may no longer be erect enough to continue penetration, that doesn’t mean his fingers and his mouth are out of commission as well! Do you think a man feels ashamed to ask you for what he wants? Not likely! So, don’t feel guilty for asking him to return the favor.
I can’t emphasize enough how important communication is for sexual wellbeing, relationships, and life in general. If you only do one thing to close the orgasm gap, it should be to communicate with your partner. Many women are afraid that telling their partner what to do to please them will ruin the mood or make their lover feel inadequate. Not so! It’s all in the delivery. Express your desires to your partner in a fun and sexy way, and they will be eager to comply.
For example, if you feel like you need some extra clitoral stimulation during penetration, guide your partner’s hand to the desired spot and say, “I love when you rub my clit like that.” They will likely think it was their idea and be jazzed that they are so good at pleasing you. And if a partner reaches orgasm before you, you can use the same sort of positive encouragement to keep them going. You could say something like, “you turn me on so much, keep touching me!” This lets them know that you are eager for more, without hurting their pride.
The more you are willing to communicate, the more likely you will be to achieve an orgasm. Never feel ashamed or guilty to ask for what you need and want.
When it comes down to it, the orgasm gap may never be exactly 50/50. But that’s OK! Take control of your own orgasms, ask for what you want, and communicate with your partner. Doing these things will undoubtedly improve the orgasm gap in your life.