Most people orgasm generally within a few minutes during masturbation. When we bring a partner into it and have intercourse, those with a vagina rarely orgasm at all. A mere 29% of women consistently orgasm, while a healthy 75% of men do. There is a gigantic pleasure disparity between men and women when it comes to sex. But why?
Thanks to porn and pop culture, we’re fed a standard narrative about sex, complete with unrealistic expectations that are at best unhelpful and at worst, giving men a false idea of their female partner’s pleasure. It’s easy to become complacent, particularly if your female partner fakes it. If it seems like the sex is good, you’re not likely to do anything differently to make it better.
The orgasm gap, though, comes down to more than just that, and it’s not as simple as plain old anatomy either. Sex education is lacking when it comes to female pleasure and when we live in a culture that shames women for feeling sexual pleasure or being sexually active, it becomes difficult for them to view sex and their own pleasure in a healthy way.
There are also misconceptions about which form of stimulation is best when it comes to people with vulvas – clitoral versus vaginal. The confusion is understandable when you consider the mainstream portrayals of female pleasure in porn, as opposed to the lived experiences of vagina owners. But it is an entirely individual thing. While most do rely on clitoral stimulation to climax, this is not the rule, and many people experience greater pleasure from vaginal stimulation. No orgasm is superior, and whatever can reliably bring a person to orgasm varies, and is all you as a sexual partner need to focus on.
When it comes to sex, because of what we’re taught from porn and an incomprehensive sex education we overvalue penetration, men’s most reliable route to orgasm, and undervalue other forms of sex, at the cost of finding individual women’s most reliable route to orgasm.
The orgasm gap is about all of this. It’s about everything from body image to how emotionally safe one feels in the relationship. Sex and intimacy require you to be vulnerable both emotionally and physically, and if a partner has difficulty with either of these, they are unlikely to orgasm regularly. If a person feels insecure about sex, whether that be for body image, emotional security, or plain ignorance about their body and their pleasure, they battle to orgasm regularly.
If you place more importance on the pleasure you feel during sex, rather than solely on orgasming, you’ll find you have a higher sexual satisfaction. By moving away from traditional scripts of sex that go along the lines of penis enters vagina, orgasm happens, sex is over, couples unlock a world of different pleasure.
Exploring different forms of sex and placing your expectations on the feelings you feel along the way rather than orgasm as the final destination, you and your partner will find that you enjoy your intimacy more.
Knowledge is part of the key to closing the orgasm gap. Becoming familiar with your own body and that of your partner can help you. The way males masturbate is very similar to the stimulation they get during intercourse, while the way females masturbate is often nothing like the stimulation they get during intercourse.
Knowing what feels good to your partner when they masturbate will help them reach orgasm more reliably in partnered sex.
It’s one thing knowing how you experience pleasure, and it’s another to communicate that effectively to your partner. You need to communicate honestly and openly with each other. Tell your partner what specifically you enjoy and what you dislike, ask them about their likes and dislikes, and put that into practice.
So, the solution to the orgasm gap is simple. Ask, listen, and abandon your expectations and limits. You’ll find that sex becomes less of a chore, and more of a thrilling indulgence.
This post is part of the &BAM x Catriona Boffard mini-series. Catriona is an accredited clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. To learn more about Catriona or to follow her work check out https://catrionaboffard.com/ or follow her on IG @sexologywithcatriona
The articles published by &BAM are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. If you have any medical questions or concerns, you should contact your doctor.