Closing The Orgasm Gap: Why Do Women Climax Less Often Than Men?

Let's not sideline our pleasure any longer.

A friend is lamenting to a group of us over cocktails. “It’s not that the sex is bad, it’s just that it’s over so quickly,” she complains. “And once he’s done, then we have to stop and I don’t get to come at all. Sure he’s already bloody fast asleep before I’ve even got my knickers back on.”

We all laughed, but it’s a pretty common problem isn’t it? And being honest, when it comes to sex, men usually do get theirs a little more regularly than women, don’t they? In fact, there are stats to back it up. Cosmopolitan’s Female Orgasm Survey shows that only 57% of women climax regularly. Meanwhile, according to Kinsey Institute, 75% of men claim to climax every single time they have sex. But, eh, why is that exactly?

“Male pleasure and male orgasms have dominated sex for centuries – partly because male ejaculation is needed to make a baby, but female climax is not, so there’s a temptation to consider the latter a ‘nice to have’ rather than an ‘ought to happen’,” explains Alix Fox, a sex educator and co-host of BBC Radio 1’s Unexpected Fluids podcast. “There’s also the impact of the patriarchy. For a long time, it’s been considered more important for men to get off when they’re getting it on, because they are men.”

What’s more, unlucky for us ladies “we’ve also been sold the myth that orgasm and ejaculation comes easy to men, whilst women’s orgasms are difficult, and elusive, and complicated, and thus tough to pursue,” Alix rightly points out.

We’re commonly given the impression that vulvas and vaginas are somehow inherently more complex and less orgasmic than penises and balls. And I say: balls to that. Our genitals aren’t some crazy impossible maze. The only reason we know less about them isn’t because they’re more mysterious, it’s because they’ve been studied less.

Then there’s also the crucial role of that sensitive little hotspot the clitoris. “Most women require continued, direct clitoral stimulation for a considerable period of time in order to climax, but penetrative sex does not easily allow for this – it just doesn’t get the clit lit!” Alix aptly explains.

That’s the, er, root causes of orgasm inequality sussed, but would can be done about it? Here, Alix shares her top tips for the closing the pleasure gap.

1) Stop the obsession with penetration – or as Alix puts it, “putting a ‘pole in a hole’ should not be our sole goal!”

She notes that there are a whole host of things couples can do that will prove more pleasurable for women, but also enjoyable for men too. You might call it foreplay, but it’s here, Alix relegates that word to the bin because it suggests that all sorts of “delicious sensual shenanigans” are “mere appetisers to the supposed ‘main course’ of penetrative sex.” Instead she suggests we all start using the word ‘play’ and take penetration off the menu for a while.

2) Get ye to a sex shop!

“Men need to stop seeing sex toys as a threat, and start seeing them as allies – tools that can help bring their partners new levels of joy,” Alix advocates. She recommends the Womanizer range of sex toys – “engineered using patented German technology, they use pulses of air to stimulate the clitoris rather than traditional motors,” she notes. “While you’re at it, embrace lubricants like the YES range at Superdrug too. There’s too much shame associated with the need for extra slip ‘n’ slide, but everything feels better when it’s wetter!”

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3) Now it’s time to get hands on – literally.

Alix notes that masturbation will help to “explore your orgasmic potential. It’s essential to become familiar and comfortable with your own body.” So during your next solo sesh, “learn which parts make you feel great when they’re touched, and what sorts of touch feel greatest,” she suggests. “Masturbation and self-exploration are vital to discover the unique way you’re personally wired – what turns you on, and what turns you off. Once you figure out how to enjoy yourself, by yourself, for yourself, it’s easier to have satisfying, scintillating sexual experiences with a partner.”

4) Communicate.

“Once you’ve worked out what works for you, unless you’re dating Mystic Meg, you’ll need to share this information with your partner so they can use it to pleasure you,” Alix explains. If you’re a fella reading all of this? “Many women report that their ability to orgasm depends on how they feel emotionally as well as physically. Set the scene to make her feel ‘SSS’: Safe, Sensual and Stress-free.”

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