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The Orgasm Gap Explained

Sexual Health 2 min read
SMC Customer

The Orgasm Gap Explained

The Orgasm Gap Study

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.

This equates to 110 days fewer orgasms a year for straight women, something highlighted on Equal Pleasure Day!

What Does The Pleasure Gap Research Tell Us?

This disparity between men's and women's experience of pleasure is called the 'orgasm gap.' There is a vast difference in how often straight men and women reach orgasm during partnered sex, a 30% difference - but only a 9% difference in lesbian women and straight men. What does that tell us? People with vulvas CAN reach orgasm during partnered sex. We may have been fed lines in society that women "find it harder" to climax - BUT that doesn't seem to be the case when two vulva lovers are involved.

Coincidence? Absolutely not. A 2012 study of masturbation among women revealed that 92% of women who masturbated were able to reach orgasm this way. Many more studies also highlight how women's orgasm potential exponentially increases during solo sex.

So, it's a context thing. Women don't reach climax during sex with men nearly as much as they do alone or with other women.

Why Does The Orgasm Gap Exist?

In whatever situation (casual, familiar, relationship), the gap never closes - men have more orgasms than women. But why?

'Orgasm gap isn't about women's orgasms being difficult or elusive - it's about the institution of hetero sex in our culture that is driving the orgasm gap.'

Dr Laure Mintz

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.


Read more pleasure-positive sex education on our blog with masturbation talks and sex tips!

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