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31 Aug 2022 (Last updated 25 Mar 2024)

Why do people fake orgasms?

Sexual Journey 7 min read
hand holding vibrators with smiles on the ends

Have you heard of equal pleasure day?

Probably not, and that's because we made it up. To highlight just how big the orgasm gap is, we did some math...

  • 25th August marks the last day of the year of partnered orgasms for straight women.
  • Straight women get 110 days fewer orgasms a year!
  • 80% of people with vulvas have faked orgasms.

25th August marks the day of the year when straight women stop orgasming during partnered sex relative to straight men. Dramatic? Yes. But, there is a reason for the drama.

Smile Makers uses this calendar date to highlight another gender disparity - the pleasure gap. According to statistics, heterosexual women report orgasming only 65% of the time during sex with a partner, compared to heterosexual men’s 95%. So, we did the math.

If straight men and women were to have partnered sex every day of the year, from Thursday 25th August, the women would no longer climax while the men’s year would have a happy ending, orgasming through til - wait for it - Tuesday 13th December.

Straight women get 110 days fewer orgasms a year! Well, when a penis is involved anyway. Solo, women report reaching climax most of the time. And lesbians report a higher frequency of climax too. Bi-sexual women report a similar gap to straight women, with 66% equating to just four more days of orgasm.

Looking at this orgasm gap through a calendar lens accentuates the huge disparity caused by many reasons, such as society’s obsession with penetrative sex and education lacking in pleasure-positive lessons. Another reason is how often women are doing something else - faking orgasms!

In a recent Smile Makers community survey, 80% of people with vulvas say they have faked orgasms during their sex lives, with half of those that always fake having done so more than 100 times.

  • 80% of people with vulvas say they have faked orgasms during their sex life.
  • 1 in 10 (13%) people with vulvas have faked orgasms over 100 times.
  • Half of the people who always fake orgasms have done so over 100 times.
  • 1 in 5 vulva owners faked an orgasm in their most recent partnered sex experience.
  • 90% of people who are yet to experience climaxing with a partner have faked orgasms.

So, how is it that people are reaching their fake orgasm centennial without experiencing the real thing or simulating climax to falsely bridge the gap that withholds the right to their pleasure?

Why do people fake orgasms?

From our community survey, 62% of vulva owners said they prioritize their partner’s feelings and pleasure above their own, and 59% fake it to get to the end. More than a third also reported performance anxiety and obligation to orgasm.

  • More than half of people with vulvas fake it not to hurt a partner’s ego.
  • 36% fake because of performance anxiety or a feeling of obligation to orgasm.
  • A third of people fake orgasms to sexually satisfy a partner.
  • 59% fake orgasms to mark or hurry the end.
  • 1 in 5 think it’s easier to fake an orgasm than to teach a partner what they enjoy.
reasons people fake orgasms

In the same way that fake orgasms impact the pleasure gap, the pleasure gap influences vulva owners and women faking orgasms.

Our understanding of sex and how we experience pleasure has been conditioned, with our orgasm expectations set by a heteronormative culture previously focused, nay obsessed, with penetration. When it comes to female orgasms, a very limiting social script is holding people with vulvas back. From the type of stimulation to the language used, many social factors uphold this orgasm inequality, prioritizing penis pleasure and having enormous implications for vulva owners' sexual satisfaction. And with that, habitual fake orgasms stand in for real ones.

Here are a few things to remember about the pleasure gap and fake orgasms.

Faking orgasms for a partner.

The Archives of Sexual Behavior* statistics highlight the widest gap is between straight men and women, so when penis-in-vagina sex is societally expected. There is too much focus on penetration, despite the fact women very rarely reach orgasm through penetrative stimulation alone. The focus also implies that women’s pleasure is not a priority, contributing to a lack of entitlement. From a young age, us vulva owners feel less entitled to pleasure than people who identify as men. We even tend to use our partners’ satisfaction as a measure of our own. Author Peggy Orenstein explores this in her Ted Talk about sexual pleasure:‘If a girl goes into an encounter hoping it won’t hurt, wanting to feel close to their partner, and expecting them to have an orgasm - she’ll be satisfied if those criteria are met.’

Faking orgasms to end sex.

Penetration and partner satisfaction also plays into simulating orgasms to end sex. ‘Scholars have implicated our cultural devaluing of women’s sexual pleasure and clitoral stimulation, and parallel overvaluing of men’s sexual pleasure and intercourse to underlie the orgasm gap. This overvaluing of intercourse is reflected in what has been termed our current cultural script for heterosexual sex, which proceeds as follows: foreplay (just to get the woman ready for intercourse),intercourse, male orgasm, and sex over.’’ Orgasm Equality: Scientific Findings This prescriptive way of sex gives the man the happy ending every time, with women’s pleasure a means to an end. Sigh. The lack of attention or education on what is actually orgasmic, such as outercourse (clitoral play is integral to climax for many vulva owners), on top of it feeling like part of a process makes it easy to fake orgasms; be it to then get the partner to come and end, or to mark the end because it’s just not enjoyable.

Faking orgasms because of expectations.

The idea that orgasms mark the end, or help partners reach the end leaves vulva owners feeling obliged to climax; so when it doesn’t come, we fake it instead. When really, orgasms are not the only gauge of sexual satisfaction - pleasure is a measure, and they don’t have to happen! The education and scripts teach us that men should come every time; and, pop culture and porn teach us that the orgasm comes for all partners every time. So, it’s easy to play into that, rather than appreciate pleasure no matter the climax - for men and women.

Of course, there are other reasons to fake orgasms. One community member pointed out that they faked orgasms as a sex worker to satisfy clients but never faked during relationship sex. Also, painful or uncomfortable penetration is something many vulva owners experiences and could cause wanting to end sex.

Statistics show the orgasm gap increases more during hook-up sex, and with that, the frequency of faking it might too - a one-time partner is like a first time over again, bodies and pleasure maps to be learned, but perhaps not so much time or desire to educate them. Likewise, other pleasure sensations happen, but we might not quite get there, and too much time has passed to the point that it’s no longer enjoyable.

How to stop faking orgasms?

To help close to orgasm gap, we need to acknowledge that women and people with vulvas are faking orgasms. Highlighting 25th August as equal pleasure day can bring the conversation out in the open, just like it does for equal pay day in March. Mark the calendars, and let's get talking!



*In a study published in February 2018 in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, approximately 52,600 cisgender people shared how often they had orgasmed during partner sex in the past month. 26,000 participants identified as heterosexual men; 450 as gay men; 550 as bisexual men; 24,00 as heterosexual women; 350 as lesbian women; and 1,100 as bisexual women.

The study found that straight men orgasmed more than anyone else at 95% of the time, though gay and bisexual men both orgasmed 89% of the time. Straight and bisexual women orgasmed only 65% and 66% of the time. And, lesbian women orgasmed 86% of the time.

Orgasm Equality: Scientific Findings and Societal Implications PUBLISH 2020

Source:Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, andHeterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample, 2018, published inthe Archives of Sexual Behaviour, and led byDavid A Frederick, H Kate StJohn, Justin R Garcia , Elisabeth A Lloyd

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