The Orgasm Deficit
Heterosexual and bisexual women only reach completion about 70% of the time.
Written by Bailey Brown
Women are estimated to be 30-to-40% less likely to have an orgasm during sex than their male counterparts. According to a 2018 study performed by researchers at both Indiana University and Chapman University, heterosexual and bisexual women only reach completion about 70% of the time; whereas gay women reach completion 86% of the time, and men reach completion 95% of the time. The study hypothesizes that the orgasm deficit occurs because most women require clitoral stimulation, which is more difficult to achieve with traditional heterosexual sex. Contraceptives, psychological blockage, and a lack of communication also contribute to the gap.
The good news is, if you are one of many women who have trouble finishing, there are ways to combat and conquer the deficit.
What causes the orgasm deficit?
According to Alfred Charles Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, many women are able to successfully achieve an orgasm — or multiple orgasms — in a number of minutes while masturbating. Women who have sex with other women also experience orgasms more frequently than women who have sex with men. Women who have trouble reaching completion during heterosexual sex might be experiencing a lack of clitoral stimulation. Professor Debby Herbenick at Indiana University found that 36% of women require clitoral stimulation to orgasm, which can be achieved by applying firm to light pressure and performing a circular, side-to-side, or downward motion on the clitoris.
In addition to biological effects, the social stigmatization of female sexual pleasure gained popularity in the early 20th century. This is largely thanks to Freud’s theory that adult women could only achieve an orgasm vaginally, or else they would risk psychosis. This type of cultural miseducation creates shame, which can prevent women from enjoying sexual encounters to their full extent.
Abstinence only teachings also further contributed to female sexual shame throughout the 20th century. Beginning in the 1980s, sex education finally began to focus on the study of contraception, opening the door for a conversation which has ultimately helped destigmatize female sexual pleasure.
How can we overcome the orgasm deficit?
In recent decades, talking about sex, asking if you are ready to start having sex, and learning about your own sexual identity has contributed significantly to a decrease in the orgasm gap. One of the many ways women and men can work toward closing the gap is by communicating about their preferences in bed. In order to tell your partner what you want, however, women should become comfortable with their own sexual pleasure.
Another contributing factor to the conversation of female pleasure is safe sex, including the use of contraceptives and birth control. Professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin, Jenny Higgins, alleges that sexual health studies have focused primarily on male pleasure. As scientists and researches begin to focus on female sexual health, Higgins theorizes that sexual aesthetics such as taste, feel, and smell, are important to increasing the likelihood of an orgasm with a condom; whereas education and acceptance are crucial to the discussion of various birth control options.
Overcoming the orgasm deficit requires us to encourage conversations about historically rooted female sexual shame, as well as take practical steps toward increasing communication with your partner about stimulation and sexual expectations.