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Article by Tabby Kibugi.

Picture this: you’re watching a raunchy scene from your favorite TV show featuring a man and a woman. The woman is writhing in pleasure. A few minutes after penetration, she orgasms, even before the guy does. It’s a common scenario in movies and adult films. But many women will tell you that it’s far from reality. Research has revealed that women have far fewer orgasms than men, what is known as the orgasm gap. 

Dr. Laurie Mintz, a professor at the University of Florida, coined the term to describe the disparity in orgasms between heterosexual men and women.

In a 2018 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, 65 percent of straight women had an orgasm every time or almost every time they’d had sex. In comparison, 95 percent of straight men did. The orgasm gap doesn’t only exist between heterosexual men and women. The study found that bisexual and lesbian women have significantly more orgasms than heterosexual women. Also, women orgasm about as frequently, quickly, and easily during masturbation as men do.

But why does this disparity exist? Is the female orgasm as elusive as many people imagine? And what can you and your partner do to ensure that you’re equally receiving pleasure in the bedroom? Saturday Box spoke to Martha Lee, a clinical sexologist at Eros Coaching, and Suzannah Weiss, a certified sexologist at BedBible on all these aspects and more. 

Why the orgasm gap exists

You might be tempted to blame it on men and their lack of concern for women's pleasure. Or women for not knowing what they want in bed. But that's not necessarily the case. 

The orgasm gap is more of a societal and cultural issue, fuelled by how the media represents female orgasm. 

“Historically, many aspects of sexuality have been centered around male pleasure,” Lee says. “This can lead to an overemphasis of penetrative sex and the idea that it should be the primary source of female orgasm. However, research shows that most women require clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm.”

In a 2018 study, 36 percent of women reported clitoral stimulation was necessary for orgasm during intercourse. Only 18 percent said that intercourse alone was enough for orgasm.

In the cases where women orgasm more, like in relationships with other women, there is a greater focus on external stimulation.

“Lesbian couples engage in more external stimulation. And it’s not just the clitoris,” says Weiss. “They also engage in breast play, caressing, and other activities we might consider foreplay. They deem foreplay activities part of the main event. For most women, orgasming through intercourse is either impossible or occasional but unreliable.”

Cultural messages about the supremacy of intercourse may have also fed into the notion that PIV sex is the only way for women to orgasm. Just log into any porn site. Chances are that the woman in any heterosexual scene will have an orgasm from penetration alone.

Plenty of books, TV shows, and magazines also portray women having an orgasm from penetration only. 

“Even if you look up the word ‘sex’ in the Google dictionary, it reads sexual activity, including specifically sexual intercourse,” Weiss explains. “Most people equate sex with penis-in-vagina intercourse.”

Clitoral stimulation, or lack thereof, is the more technical explanation why women orgasm less. But there’s also a psychological part. This has to do with some women not feeling comfortable enough in the bedroom to communicate what they want and relax enough to orgasm.

“I have spoken to a lot of women who report being in their heads during sex,” Weiss says. “This might be because of sexual trauma or because they are worried about how they look. As a result, they get distracted from the ability to focus on sexual sensations and pleasure, which is what leads to orgasm. Also, many women don’t feel comfortable asking for the type of touch that gets them off.”

Therefore, a lot of women who can orgasm easily through masturbation still have trouble orgasming with a partner. 

However, this doesn't have to be the case in your relationship. Lee and Weiss shared a few practical tips that you and your partner can adopt to make sure you’re equally receiving pleasure in the bedroom. 

How to close the orgasm gap

Communication is key

Try to allocate time every week for an open discussion with your partner. Share your likes, fantasies, and what feels pleasurable to you. If you feel hesitant to talk about your desires with your partner, remember that they want to please you as much as you want to please them.

During sex, you can also make a mental note of what activities feel pleasurable to you. Afterwards, you can tell your partner to put more emphasis on these activities. 

Come up with an erotic blueprint

If you’re not sure what you like in bed, you and your partner can come up with an erotic blueprint. It’s an arousal map to what turns you on, also known as your lust language. Jaiya, a somatic sexologist, came up with an erotic blueprint to help individuals and couples understand how they get aroused. If you watched Sex, Love, and Goop, then you probably remember her in episode 1. She used the erotic blueprint to help Damon and Erika with their mismatched sexual desires. The erotic blueprint involves five aspects:

  • Energetic: You get turned on by anticipation, teasing, longing, or yearning.
  • Sensual: You get aroused when all senses are engaged.
  • Sexual: You get turned on by the more traditional aspects of sex such as porn, genitals or nudity.
  • Kinky: You get aroused by what’s considered taboo to you. It can be a particular sex position or fantasies you deem taboo.
  • Shape shifter: You get turned on by all these aspects.

You can take her free online quiz to find out your type. After you complete the quiz, you’ll get more in-depth information about your type and what you need to be truly turned on.

If you and your partner end up not having the same erotic blueprint, you can play around with your differences.

Prioritize foreplay

Many couples usually ignore foreplay and skip right to having sex. However, Lee says spending time on foreplay can enhance arousal and increase the likelihood of orgasms for both partners. 

“Try to explore different techniques such as oral sex, manual stimulation or use sex toys,” she explains.

Certain sex toys can increase a woman’s orgasm rate. 

“Some suction toys allow many women to orgasm very quickly, for the first time, or multiple times,” Weiss adds. “There are also couples’ toys that can be worn during intercourse to provide clitoral stimulation without hands.”

If you’d like to spice up your foreplay session with other sex-capades such as roleplay, check out our Office Romance Classic or our Office Romance Eco Box. You get to explore the classic roles of Boss and Secretary through a series of hot challenges. Or enjoy a more sensual ride with the rose-shaped suction vibrator. With as much or as little kink as you'd like.

Experiment with different sex positions

You can try experimenting with different sex positions that allow for clitoral stimulation.

“Positions like woman-on-top or modified missionary can provide direct clitoral contact,” Lee advises. 

If you’re comfortable doing so, you can also try touching yourself during intercourse to enhance pleasure. This is easiest in missionary position because you have nothing to do with your hands or body. 

For starters, you can try a modified missionary position.

“You (the woman) can have your partner kneeling between your legs,” Weiss says. “This leaves plenty of room for you to touch yourself the way you like.”

Focus on pleasure, not just orgasm

Many couples tend to place all their focus on achieving an orgasm. Lee advises couples to shift the focus from solely achieving orgasm. Instead, they should enjoy the journey of pleasure together. 

“Explore erogenous zones and experiment with different sensations while having fun,” says Lee.

Educate yourself

You can try taking a couples class to help you learn more about female and male anatomy, arousal, and orgasm. 

“You can also read books, watch educational videos, or attend workshops together,” Lee says. By doing so, you can enhance your knowledge of how to pleasure one another. You can also use sexual wellness products like Saturday Box that provide tips and ideas on how to safely get started with BDSM and roleplay.

Seek professional help

If either of you is still struggling to achieve an orgasm, seek guidance from a sex therapist or counselor. 

They can provide practical tips and support to address any specific concerns. You can check out this list of AASECT-certified sex therapists and educators for a start.

Remember that everyone has diverse bodies, desires, and responses to sexual stimulation. What feels pleasurable to one person may not be for another. That’s why you should approach this journey with openness and a willingness to explore. By prioritizing the pleasure of both partners, the fantasy of a fun, fulfilling sexual experience can become your reality. 

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