ORGASM: What IS the secret to the female orgasm?
What IS the secret to the female orgasm? Just a third of women climax regularly, compared to 91% of men – but there are some simple ways to close the pleasure gap
- New research on all sex – both casual and in relationships – found a 60% regular orgasm gap between males and females
- Focusing just on casual sex: 4% of women climax every time, and 55% of men
- Researchers explain to Daily Mail Online what the issue is and how to help close the pleasure gap
Half a century after the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s, men still orgasm almost three times as much as women.
Just over 90 percent of men orgasm every time they have sex, compared to around a third of women, new research has found.
That figure plummets in the case of casual sex: just four percent of women climax every time, as opposed to 55 percent of men (or rather, it’s 13 times more likely for males than females).
And yet, when masturbating or engaging in lesbian sex, 95 percent of women easily reach an orgasm – in an average time of four minutes.
Once again, author Dr Laurie Mintz declares, it boils down to our near-global misunderstanding of how female pleasure differs from males – focusing intently on penetration, as clitoral stimulation remains something of a mysterious art.
Porn has been scapegoated for this, but that is only half the story, warns Dr Mintz, a psychology professor, human sexuality expert and author of Becoming Cliterate.
To truly come close to closing the gap, she says, America should take a leaf out of the Netherlands’ book, by factoring cliteral stimulation into schools’ education programs.
Until that (unlikely) turn of events happens, she is embarking on as many studies as possible to quantify the problem – and sharing tips based on her research to help men help women reach that elusive sweet spot.
THE NEW RESEARCH
Dr Mintz routinely polls her students at the University of Florida and elsewhere to gauge their views on sex and their sexual experiences.
The findings have made waves in the field of sexuality research, and led to her writing Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters – And How to Get It.
In one research paper involving college students, she found 91 percent of males usually orgasmed, compared to 39 percent of females, during sex.
Another showed that, in a casual context, 55 percent of men and four percent of women ‘usually or regularly’ orgasm from ‘sexual encounters’.
‘The orgasm gap isn’t limited to student,’ Dr Mintz warns in a recent article for The Conversation.
‘Among a nationally representative US sample, 64 percent of women and 91 percent of men said they’d orgasmed at their most recent sexual encounter.
‘Clearly, there’s an orgasm gap.’
REASONS FOR THE GAP
1. Poor sex education
As Girls & Sex author Peggy Orenstein puts it, porn has become the ‘new sex ed’ for young people.
It’s understandable: in the US, fewer than half of schools are required to teach sex ed. Three-quarters of high schools and half of middle schools teach abstinence only, and just 60 percent teach about birth control.
The primary focus is on internal organs and hormones, with little to no mention of the clitoris.
‘We also do not educate people on the clitoris, which means that there’s a real ‘PR problem’, if you will, for the clitoris,’ explains Alex Fine, CEO of Dame Products, a new sex toy brand.
‘Eighty percent of women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. With penetrative sex alone, it’s very difficult to achieve this type of clitoral stimulation.
‘[But] it doesn’t have enough exposure to be fully understood, which means that unfortunately, with partnered sex, it tends to get ignored — leading to a pleasure gap.’
In fact, Dr Mintz points out, ’60 percent of college students falsely believe the clitoris is located inside the vaginal canal.’
‘One false image portrayed in porn, and mainstream media, is that it is normal, indeed ideal, for women to orgasm from intercourse,’ Dr Mintz warns.
‘This false belief is a main culprit in women not getting the stimulation they need to orgasm.’
3. Cultural myths
‘Researchers in one study found that young adults believe that in casual sex, women’s pleasure is less important than men’s pleasure,’ Dr Mintz said.
‘They concluded that while it is now acceptable for women to engage in casual sex, it is not acceptable for them to seek sexual pleasure outside of a relationship.’
WAYS TO CLOSE THE PLEASURE GAP
1. Embrace mutual masturbation
‘A lot of the sex that gay people have is mutual masturbation, which a lot of straight people — guys in particular — don’t think counts as sex, or is some sort of tragic consolation prize,’ Dan Savage, a sex columnist who hosts the Savage Lovecast, told Mashable.
‘If straight people approach mutual masturbation as a rich and rewarding form of sexual expression it would improve their sex lives so much,’ says Savage.
2. Discuss it
While Fine is a huge proponent of sex toys to explore sexuality and pleasure, she urges readers communication is the most important baseline.
‘Exploring different things with your partner and having open and honest conversations about what feels good increases everyone’s pleasure,’ Fine explains.
‘Not having these conversations with your partner can mean that you don’t have a chance to speak up about what feels good (and what doesn’t) – leading to miscommunication and less than satisfactory sex.’
3. Try using toys
The sex toy market is booming.
Leading the surge are brands that focus, for the first time, on female pleasure and aesthetics, as opposed to products modeled on styles the fit porn for heterosexual men.
Dame is one of those brands, producing dinky and sleek vibrators. Their products are for women and for couples (including a ‘wearable’ for couples’ play).
‘Pressure, weight, vibrations – these are all things to experiment with to see what works best,’ Fine says.
‘Our toys are designed for couple play (but can also be used solo!), which help with this transition from solo to couple play.’
1. Me time – and, again, embrace toys
While the onus is not all on women to close the gap, women can
‘Women also have to be able to let go of body-image self-consciousness and in sex,’ Mintz says.
‘They have to feel entitled to pleasure, know what brings them pleasure (often through on their own to find out), and be able communicate this to their partners and these partners have to want to use this information.’
To do this, Fine says, masturbation and experimenting with toys is key.
‘Experimenting to see if you might like something,’ she says, ‘leads to a better overall sexual experience.’
2. Don’t be shy about speaking up
‘You know your body best so speaking up when things feel good, asking for things that you know you like,’ Fine says.
‘If you know you feel amazing with clitoral stimulation, make it happen! Whether it’s you or your partner doing it — or a combination of both — we want to empower people to really own what feels good for them.’
1. Ask questions
The number one rule is to listen, Fine says.
‘Show up! Be present and open for your partner – that goes for everyone.
‘People of all genders and sexual identities deserve open communication in the bedroom.
‘Realize there is no ‘normal’, ask questions (this is important!), and really listen to what is working for them and what isn’t.’
Kate McCoombs, a sex educator based in New York, concurs.
‘Some guys just don’t make the effort to make sure their partners are having as much fun as they are,’ McCombs told Mic.
‘They might ask, ‘Did you come yet?’ but won’t meaningfully offer to correct the imbalance.’
1. Improve sex ed
Dr Mintz calls for a sexual education model more akin to that taught in Holland.
‘Information on pleasure, masturbation, the clitoris and orgasm is taught in commonly used sex education programs in Dutch schools,’ Dr Mintz said.
‘So is information on abstinence, birth control, consent, communication, sexual decision-making, and the difference between porn and real sex.’
Data suggest it works, she explains: ‘The Dutch have lower pregnancy and STI rates.’
CLOSING THE GAP ‘COULD REDUCE RATES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE‘
According to Dr Mintz, research shows that places with better sexual education focusing on women have lower rates of sexual assault and rape than their counterparts.
‘The Dutch have…three times less sexual violence than the US,’ she explains, saying she believes their female-pleasure-inclusive sex ed programs are a driving factor.
She quotes a writer who laid bare the inextricably connection between pleasure and violence: ‘Let 2018 be the year we demand more than freedom from sexual harassment and abuse. This year, it’s time we demand pleasure.’
‘Time magazine said the #MeToo movement was simmering for years. It seems that a related sexual revolution for pleasure equality is also emerging,’ Dr Mintz concludes.
Laurie Mintz, Ph.D. is a psychologist, professor at the University of Florida, and the author of A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex and Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get It.