The orgasm gap, or as others like to call it, “orgasm inequality” is not something new. Thanks to the advancement in technology in the 2010 to 2020 era for the way we send and receive information, the media and pop culture PUMPED OUT articles, videos, and even movies related to the orgasm gap.
There was also an advancement in research that honed in on the disparities between heterosexual men and heterosexual women when it comes to orgasm frequencies and behaviors related to how orgasms are achieved.
But despite what we’ve learned so far, this isn’t a “recent” discovery and it appears that the discussion on the topic is failing to spark creativity and ways to actually close the gap without shame, blame, or judgment. More on that later.
We really need to move past this “discovery” phase and actually start including more of the “how to” conversation to educate younger generations and to re-teach older generations about this global issue. Today, I’m going to go over the challenges we still face and the opportunities researchers are still not seeing to close this orgasm gap.
Buckle up, because it’s time to face some harsh realities.
Picking Up Where The Sexual Revolution Left Off…
Historically, this gap existed long before research honed in on the disparities and equality issues between men and women. But, it’s important to recognize how far we’ve come. In the 1950s, the first wave of the sex revolution aimed to break down societal barriers surrounding female sexuality, empowering women and promoting sexual freedom.
However, this liberation did not automatically translate to equal pleasure for women in the bedroom…
This Led To More Research On The Orgasm Gap
The orgasm gap refers to the difference in the frequency of orgasms between men and women during heterosexual sexual encounters.
In 2014, a study was published honing in on the disparity between heterosexual men and heterosexual women when it comes to orgasms. The study found that 63% of women orgasm during sex versus heterosexual men who orgasmed 85% of the time.
In 2017, a newer study highlighted the gap once again. But this time, they included other gender labels such as lesbians, bisexual women, gay men, and bisexual men to see if there were any other “noticeable” disparities. They found a consistent reporting of orgasm frequency among heterosexual women, but surprisingly, a 10% increase in the frequency of male orgasms. (65% versus 95% of the time).
Orgasm Behaviors And Disparities
In addition to these studies, other researchers wanted to explore behaviors around orgasms. Researchers from the Kinsey Institute found that women who masturbated were able to reach orgasm in 8 minutes (although some older articles mention “4” minutes) as opposed to “partnered” sex where it could take women up to 14 minutes on average to achieve an orgasm.
Other researchers also found that the average duration of “ideal” sex was around 7-13 minutes and that the “median”, not “average” duration for men to orgasm was around 5.4 minutes.
In addition to this, 1 in 3 men ages 18 to 60 suffer from premature ejaculation. It has been “speculated” in research that our society and culture has this view that sex ends after orgasm or that sex is “male orgasm” focused (hence the orgasm inequality/gap)
And the gap gets even bigger for “casual” sexual encounters…
The Orgasm Gap In “Hookup” Culture
An academic study on “Women’s Orgasm and Sexual Enjoyment in College Hookups and Relationships” found that orgasm rates and behaviors to achieve an orgasm for women were more likely to occur more often in a relationship than in “casual sex”.
But, why is that? In the next section, the biggest reason in my opinion is the lack of sex education taught in schools. But, for the moment, here is what the study above found out:
“Hookups typically involve less sexual activity than do relationships.”
Among hookups, 34 percent involved just kissing and non-genital touching
16 percent also involved manual stimulation by one partner of the other’s genitals (but not oral sex or intercourse),
another 11 percent involved oral sex but not intercourse
and the remainder (39 percent) included intercourse.
These numbers increased if there was more “familiarity” of the hookup partner or partner in relationship relative to the sexual activities included, the pair bonding, and the “right conditions” (social, emotional, relationship, etc.) were met to encourage the orgasm.
In interviews of the study, women reported they most frequently had orgasms when they were with a caring sexual partner: “he was concerned with her pleasure, willing to take time and perform the practices that worked, and she could communicate about what felt good. In describing good sexual partners, women often emphasized attentiveness.”
The above also validates what I found when doing my own research on the sexual response cycle for both women and men. As college is often considered a time to experiment and experience new things, including “casual” sex, the process to reach all stages of the sexual response cycle from the excitement/arousal stage to orgasm and resolution is not exactly a “linear” process, especially when having sex with someone you don’t know (or trust).
At the same time, a lack of sexual knowledge, education, and “know-how”, will surely lead to a poor experience, especially in the beginning.
Experts even acknowledge the differences between sexual response in men and women as women may need the right conditions to be met to experience all stages of sexual response:
Conditions like, "The power dynamics, the safety and trust, the reason sex is occurring, the eroticism available, her relationship to her body, pleasure and the presence or absence of stimuli that she finds arousing." - Dr. Rosemary Basson
What About The Orgasm Gap Research On “Same” Sex Partners?
In the newer 2017 study, what was glaring at me during my research was the sample populations. Both the 2014 and 2017 studies had large sample populations for heterosexual men and heterosexual women as opposed to the newly added subgroups.
However, the 2017 study had a small fraction of participants in the other subgroups (bisexual women, lesbians, bisexual men, and gay men). When these studies were published, you can imagine how the media twisted the information everyone received with this discrepancy.
For instance, one article tried to suggest that lesbians can teach heterosexual men a thing or two about female orgasms. But yet, this article referenced another small-scale study from 2011 about orgasm variability by sexual orientation. Even then, the disparity wasn’t that much of a significant difference between heterosexual women and lesbian women when it comes to orgasm frequency ( 61.6% versus 74.7%)
In an article published on Slate, they recognized this “clickbait worthy” discrepancy but noted that just because you have the “same” lady parts, doesn’t exactly mean it's going to be a universal “know how” when it comes to orgasming for same-sex partners.
You also have to factor in that compared to the number of participants in the 2017 and 2014 studies, the number of heterosexual women triumphs over the number of lesbian participants. This makes me wonder why they didn’t get the same amount or similar number of participants for this subgroup (and others) as the heterosexual women subgroup.
This actually would’ve made better data to draw implications from. I can only speculate that if they had a similar number of participants like the heterosexual subgroup, that the 86% rate for lesbian women (from the 2017 study mentioned earlier) would probably be lower or “leveled” out with more participants weighing in on their experiences.
When making statistical analysis, smaller sample populations are often deemed as less valid than larger sample populations when considering “statistical analysis” when making conclusions about the general population.
Why Does The Orgasm Gap Still Exist?
You can thank:
Our public schools and systems for budget cuts leading to students not receiving “comprehensive” sex education programs.
Not all states require “comprehensive” sex education programs nor are the current “programs” created equal. In this link (based on a 2020 report, only few states provide comprehensive sex education programs whereas the rest are limited to discussion of puberty, development stages, abstinence, and STDs/STIs. In addition to this, very few schools offer “inclusive” sex education courses for all sexes and nongendered individuals)
The rise and misuse of pornography for creating false “sexpectations” for BOTH women and men (it’s speculated to only assume that it’s only men suffering from these narratives, but it can be as equally as damaging for women, too)
Poor social and learning environments that promote hate, gender disrespect, including sexual violence
All of this continues to misinform and socially instruct us that female pleasure is a “mystery”, unimportant or not as equally important as men’s pleasure. We still have a long way to go to change this mindset.
You can also thank researchers for not moving the needle on closing this gap as some if not most sex researchers, sex coaches, sexologists and the like are too afraid to actually get in the nitty gritty on demystifying female pleasure, and the techniques involved.
A Message To Researchers And Sex Coaches Who Are Afraid Of Closing The Orgasm Gap
Oftentimes, we read articles in the media or watch podcast episodes and see a sex coach or researcher either throwing their hands up in the air saying, “all you need to do is find the clitoris”, or just become “cliterate” and that’s all you need to do. Or “what works for one woman, will be different for another”.
Now, sure, they’re correct to an extent, but I have yet to see from their “clickbait” videos and articles, the “how to” portion or the journey on getting there.
It’s as if they are deflecting from the real questions on the “how to” part for female pleasure that hasn’t been researched enough / only has limited research on this topic. Why are researchers so conservative when it comes to exploring this area?
We Need To Move The Needle On Closing The Orgasm Gap
This is one of the reasons why I partnered with OMGYES because they are NOT afraid to have these conversations. They’ve done national scale research to further explore female pleasure and sexuality by finding out the techniques, similarities, and connections to add to the conversation of closing the orgasm gap.
Through qualitative and quantitative interviews and surveys that no one else has done before, it gives us better data that is representative of our population to find the what’s, how’s, why’s.
They even included “dialogue” on how to ask for pleasure and even discussed experiences on this from real life women in interviews they conducted. More on this later.
The point is, there needs to be a conversation and common language used instead of what we know in our society and pop culture like “rub the clit", or “finger bang” or “eat her out”. There needs to be more specifics when discussing this topic for the curious individuals looking to address pleasure and desire in their relationships and for self-exploration.
The Clitoris is also not elusive, too!
If you ask us, finding the clitoris is NOT elusive unless you’ve actually been living under a rock since the internet came to light in the 90s. Google images was first introduced in 2001. If you actually take the time to learn more about the female anatomy, you’ll be able to locate where the clitoris is. Again, it’s not a difficult task to locate.
“Women’s orgasm problems in heterosexual sex are due to not enough or not the right kind of clitoral stimulation” (this proves, it’s not just about finding the clit).
Even if a man does find the clit, there is a gap between finding the right techniques and the right communication from both partners to hone in on this disparity (again, why I recommend the platform and why I wrote a full review of OMGYes).
But, we can only assume that because SEX ED is not required in most schools, then you can expect newer generations to be “delayed” when learning about anatomies, or finding the answer to sex questions and other topics that should’ve been taught at an early age to close these gaps.
From my research on the orgasm gap, including reading studies, literature, and blogs, I’m getting a little tired of hearing “just talk to your partner” to tell them what you want, as if it was that “simple”, when a good amount of people are not versed on how to have a healthy conversation on a topic that is still considered “taboo”, or awkward for some, if not most people. (where is the emotional intelligence education to teach people on how to go about these conversations?)
This is probably one of the reasons why some women fake orgasms.
In studies highlighting “faking orgasms,” they show that:
More than half (55.4%) of women reported they had wanted to communicate with a partner regarding sex but decided not to; the most common reasons were not wanting to hurt a partner’s feelings (42.4%), not feeling comfortable going into detail (40.2%), and embarrassment (37.7%)
And on a side note….
In 2023, I think we should move passed the stereotypes and stigmas around being afraid to have these conversations in an emotionally intelligent way.
No matter the gender or individual, we all have the ability to “feel” all feelings. We all have the potential to truly enhance our emotional intelligence skills to navigate these hard to talk about conversations (sexual desires, wants, needs, etc. more on this later.)
Sexual Trauma Is Also Another Global Issue
I have also yet to see a researcher or sex coach include the topic of trauma and finding pleasure again in the discussion of the orgasm gap. Psychological factors also play a role in how we behave sexually, how we feel, and how open we are to these experiences.
If you add in sexual violence/trauma in the mix, this adds to the orgasm gap, especially for younger generations exposed to social learning environments promoting hate and violence.
Additionally, I rarely see psychologists or researchers discuss the lack of sex education courses or the fact that most schools in the U.S aren’t requiring a more comprehensive learning that expands beyond abstinence, STDs, and consent. In an article published on The Conversation by Laurie Mintz, she even recognized that a lack of comprehensive sex education programs not only leads to ignorance around sexual pleasure, but sexual violence.
"Information on pleasure, masturbation, the clitoris and orgasm is taught in commonly used sex education programs in Dutch schools. So is information on abstinence, birth control, consent, communication, sexual decision-making, and the difference between porn and real sex. The Dutch have lower pregnancy and STI rates, and three times less sexual violence than the U.S."
The Blame Game Doesn’t Help Either
The sexual revolution was a significant milestone for women's rights and sexual freedom. However, despite the progress made in breaking down societal barriers, we still have a long way to go.
In 2023, it's crucial that we shift the focus from merely discussing the “statistics” of the orgasm gap to actively implementing strategies to close it. Instead of regurgitating the same statistics and placing blame primarily on men, we need to concentrate on actionable solutions that empower ALL sexes to communicate openly about their desires and needs.
It’s a shame because most researchers, influencers, coaches, and “experts” discussing this topic have transitioned from talking about the orgasm gap and statistics in traditional media to now “in the streets” for a Tiktok video, Instagram Reel, or YouTube video.
But I’ve noticed these researchers and influencers approaching young high school men or very young college men to ask them questions about female sexuality, anatomy, and other topics. But what I don’t understand is the logic behind some of these social media posts…
Now, I do understand that they’re trying to make a point that the government shouldn’t be governing women’s bodies, because of the lack of sex education taught in schools leads to misguidance and myths around the female body (including men’s bodies, too)
And listen, I’m not here to cause a debate on politics, that’s not what this post is about.
But, why “only” approach young high schoolers about this topic when this could also be approached to older generations (as these are the people usually in office)?
The newer generations are still not getting a comprehensive sex education course in high school. They sure as hell are not going to get it in college or by you berating them for not knowing the answers to these questions. I digress…
I get that we want to continue the discussion and educate people on these issues. But pointing out the “lack of education”, and then looking into the camera with a vicious smile is not going to help anyone.
Instead, why don’t you extend the video while pulling out a diagram of the female anatomy or share more insight with these individuals.
Or maybe make a follow up video with the same kids so that they can go home and say they learned something new, instead of them going home feeling belittled because they didn’t know these facts.
It’s not like these guys are going to go home and search the internet for this information, especially when they’re not informed on what to type in the search bar as they might get routed to a website with misinformation or they’ll just rely on pornography.
See the point, here? We need to start moving the needle.
How Can We Close The Orgasm Gap?
Closing the orgasm gap requires a shift in mindset and a focus on communication, education, and understanding (empathy).
In addition to this, we need to focus on understanding and implementing change at both individual and societal levels. Here are some steps that can be taken to help start closing the orgasm gap for good:
1. OMGYES Can Help Close The Orgasm Gap
Again, I recently partnered with this AMAZING platform called OMGYES. What started off as a “conversation” in 2015, then turned into a movement and educational resource on demystifying female pleasure through collective “shared” experiences and insight is what I consider a step in the right direction to closing this gap...
And OMGYes, did what no one else was doing at the time. They wanted to find out the what, the whys, and “how to” parts when it came to female pleasure. At the time, the creators and researchers couldn’t find any information online except traditional statistics on orgasm rates and behaviors like, this % of women used vibrators or this % of women orgasmed from clitoral stimulation, etc.
No one has ever honed in on the “how to” parts and the narratives around the realities of sex. Not until they decided to do the research themselves.
Not only are they research driven, but they offer welcoming and relatable experiences for all sexes to learn from so that individuals and partners can demystify female pleasure, together.
In 2015, they published their first pilot study and discovered 12 common techniques real life women use to orgasm externally (clitoral). In the years to follow, they further explored internal ways to encourage orgasms through partnered intercourse, including the “how to” parts with sex toys and healthy conversations on how to ask for pleasure.
Currently, they’re continuing their research into other facets including trauma, male pleasure, and more. As of 2023, they have 3 seasons packed with interviews from real life women, diagrams, written explanations, and interactive touchscreen experiences to help you navigate female pleasure.
There is no “exclusivity” and I’m happy to be on board with their mission because it’s truly meant for everyone involved. They also create a welcoming environment for “partners” to navigate this library of information, solo or together, without blame, shame, or judgment. I encourage those reading this to really check it out. Whether you’re a guy reading this, a vulva owner, etc. it’s for EVERYONE.
If you want to learn more about them, I recently did a full review of OMGYes where I broke down everything you need to know about this amazing and helpful platform.
2. Enhance Your Emotional Intelligence
Being open to discussing sexual desires, boundaries, and expectations is not an easy conversation.
As most experts don’t expand on this, I encourage readers to enhance your emotional intelligence skills so that you can learn how to navigate your feelings and thoughts and so that you can have better conversations with your partners when it comes to having “sex talks”.
Remember, sex is just one part of intimacy, whereas intimacy comes in many other forms. Oftentimes, these conversations that go into a deeper level, including conversations on how to ask for what you want in bed or what you don’t like, etc. requires these soft skills to be “vulnerable”, but yet “open”, and empathetic, in response to what you and your partner “feel”, what each other's needs are, and how to go about them (decision making).
Identifying and labeling emotions is one of the a key pillars to emotional intelligence training. I may not be a mental health expert or a professional in this field (disclaimer). But, a good place to start is looking up some of the big names who research emotions in multiple facets.
For instance, podcasts on emotional intelligence, reading literautre, or following the models of how to be more self aware of your emotions and how to regulate them.
Because It's no secret that people with low emotional intelligence:
Tend to feel misunderstood
Are overwhelmed by emotions
Have a hard time expressing or considering the emotions of others (regulation and empathy)
An example would be someone who is often easily triggered, angered, "responsive", reactive, jealous, or defensive.
If you find yourself realizing or becoming self aware that you react and aren't able to recognize your own feelings as well as others, then it's a good sign that you may want to start reading on how to improve your emotional intelligence.
3. Advocate for Comprehensive Sex Education in Your School
Push for sex education reform that includes topics like pleasure, communication, and anatomy. Just like I mentioned earlier about how the Dutch have a very comprehensive education program, we have the ability to also strive for a more thorough, inclusive approach to sexual education.
Comprehensive sex education goes beyond just teaching the biological aspects of sex. It includes information on healthy relationships, communication, consent, and sexual pleasure and we just don’t get that here in the U.S.
Students who receive comprehensive sex education are better equipped to navigate sexual encounters and communicate their desires and boundaries with their partners.
Making our society move towards closing the orgasm gap.
In addition to that, abstinence-only education, which is still prevalent in many parts of the United States, fails to provide students with fact-based information on sexual health and pleasure. This type of education tends to emphasize shame and fear surrounding sexual activity, which can lead to negative attitudes toward sexuality and difficulty communicating about sexual desires.
By advocating for comprehensive sex education that includes information on sexual pleasure, we can work towards closing the orgasm gap and creating a more fulfilling sexual experience for everyone. It's important to remember that sexual pleasure is a basic human need and right, and promoting sexual health and pleasure is crucial to overall well-being.
4. Challenge and Change Cultural Norms Around Sex
Recognize that mainstream straight-sex culture often centers around the male orgasm and orgasms for females through intercourse in movies and other online spaces when that’s not the primary way for women to orgasm. This is misguidance to both women and men about the realities of sex.
Encourage and promote a more balanced approach to sexual pleasure that considers the needs and desires of both partners that is not only empowering but encourages exploration into other sexual activities that are key drivers for female orgasm (clitoral stimulation, kissing, etc.).
Sometimes a healthy debate or re-education is needed especially for those who did not receive a comprehensive sex education during school or college. But it doesn’t mean you have to be a tyrant when trying to get your point across.
Research the topic, know the sex ED laws in your state or country, understand that not everyone grew up in healthy “social” learning environments, and advocate what you and your peers need.
Understand that some people might reject your ideas (especially higher ups who fund sex education programs). If you really want to hit em hard, start petitions! Or create social groups for more awareness.
I want to be clear though, when advocating for a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to sex education, it's important to remain respectful and open-minded. Some individuals may have grown up in environments where sex was seen as taboo or shameful, and it may take time and patience to undo those deeply ingrained cultural attitudes.
Recognizing the biases and cultural conditioning surrounding female sexuality is the first step toward closing the orgasm gap. Encouraging a more balanced approach to sexual pleasure that prioritizes communication, exploration, and consent can help promote healthy sexual expression and reduce the stigma around female pleasure.
5. Reject Harmful Portrayals of Sex in Pop Culture, Pornography, and Social Media
Be critical of the unrealistic and harmful portrayals of sex in these mediums. Educate yourself and others on the difference between "online" fantasy and reality when it comes to sex. If you see a meme about a myth or unrealistic idea of sex, such as something you would see in pornography sex, then call it out.
Or just reject it.
If you have a friend who read a social media post or saw a movie that had an unrealistic sex scene, and then they make a statement that encourages this ideology (because they don’t know any better or they just upright believe it), then provide constructive criticism.
Take a pause, and ask them why they believe social media or Hollywood movies about what they’re portraying as “sex” and then ask them to draw connections with their own sex lives. Then provide them real statistics and education that debunks these norms that have been formed from these online spaces.
If they reject it or challenge you on it, show them the stats. They don’t lie.
But go about it in an emotionally intelligent way without being judgemental. Why? Because again, some of us were exposed to certain social and emotional learning environments that ingrained these myths around sex for YEARS. Their ignorance is not entirely their fault. But most likely (speculation), previous generations who didn’t know any better.
The only thing you can do now is build on what our previous generations discovered. Whether that’s myths or evidence that is not entirely supported in literature or academic studies. This may mean you have to keep debunking it until the "truth" becomes normalized.
For instance, I know my voice is small in my niche, but at least I’m doing my part for the greater good, and hopefully, one of you listening who has a wider audience and have believed these wrong ideologies around sex or female pleasure, can help debunk it there, too.
6. Foster A Culture of Consent and Communication
Promote a culture that values consent, communication, and mutual pleasure. Encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own sexual experiences and prioritize the needs and desires of their partners.
Consent is a crucial aspect of healthy sexual expression, and it should be emphasized in all sexual encounters. It's also important to encourage open communication between partners about boundaries, desires, and expectations.
Mutual pleasure is an important aspect of a fulfilling sexual experience and by implementing both consent and communication, you can achieve that. Both partners should feel comfortable expressing their desires and exploring new forms of pleasure together.
This can involve trying different sexual techniques, incorporating sex toys, or simply taking the time to explore each other's bodies and preferences. (Again, this is something that OMGYES, does a great job in helping people with).
If I see another article “statistic” bombing us and failing to discuss healthy opportunities to close the orgasm gap, I’m going to lose it.
Closing the orgasm gap is not an impossible task. We have to transition from this discovery phase and actually start targeting the schools and indivudals at an early age to reform these misinformed ideologies around sex.
Sure, some of you might still blame previous generations, which they can also be reached and re-educated. But we need to start moving the needle so that when the newer generations become our age, they can continue to do better and educate newer generations to end this generational cycle of misinformation.
The orgasm gap, right now, will continue to be a real and pressing issue. However, focusing solely on statistics and numbers can sometimes obscure the larger cultural and social factors that contribute to this gap. While it's important to acknowledge the problem, we need to focus on creating healthy opportunities for a better change.
Fostering a culture that values open communication (emotional intelligence), comprehensive sex education (and advocacy for more education), and mutual pleasure is key to closing the orgasm gap. This means promoting an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing their desires and exploring new forms of pleasure with their partners.
Let's take the necessary steps to move the needle on closing the orgasm gap, and in doing so, promote a more satisfying and pleasurable sexual landscape for everyone.
As always, thanks for listening and I hope that we can all work together in order to close the orgasm gap!
Much Love <3