What Sex-Ed Didn't Teach You About Orgasms

Studies show that women reach climax less often than men do during sexual encounters together. Matheus Ferrero/Unsplash

Rosie McCall 07 Mar 2018, 15:58

The Conversation

There is a clear disparity between men and women when it comes to achieving orgasm; a phenomenon scientists call the orgasm gap.

Studying orgasms is no easy task. We work as psychology of sexual behaviour researchers in the lab of Dr. James Pfaus at Concordia University and were interested to explore the “controversy” of clitoral versus vaginal orgasms.

We conducted a literature review on the current state of the evidence and different perspectives on how this phenomenon occurs in women. Particularly, the nature of a woman’s orgasm has been a source of scientific, political and cultural debate for over a century. Although science has an idea of what orgasms are, we are still quite uncertain as to how they occur.

Orgasms are one of the few phenomena that occur as a result of a highly complex interaction of several physiological and psychological systems all at once. While there may be evolutionary reasons why men are more likely to orgasm during sex, we shouldn’t doom ourselves to this idea. Indeed, part of the problem lies in what happens in the bedroom.

We all have different preferences when it comes to what we like in bed. But one commonality we share is that we know when we orgasm and when we do not. We don’t always orgasm every time we have sex, and that can be just fine, because we may have sex for many different reasons. However, studies repeatedly show that women reach climax less often than men do during sexual encounters together.

For example, a national survey conducted in the United States showed that women reported one orgasm for every three from men. Heterosexual males said they achieved orgasm usually or always during sexual intimacy, 95 per cent of the time.

Sexual education needs to address the orgasm gap, just as much as it does sexual pleasure for all. Shutterstock

The gap appears to become narrower among homosexual and bisexual people, where 89 per cent of gay males, 88 per cent bisexual males, 86 per cent lesbian women, and 66 per cent of bisexual women orgasm during sexual interactions.

When we take a closer look at what might explain the orgasm gap, we can see the type of relationship we have with our partner matters. If you are in an established committed relationship, the gap tends to close, but it widens during casual sex.

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