Let’s Talk About The Orgasm Gap
When we as a society think of sexual problems, we tend to think of problems whose roots have biological origins. But how does culture or lack of knowledge cause problems when it comes to sex? One major social phenomenon that affects society but is widely thought of as just a social problem but in fact, permeates to one’s sex life is sexism. Here’s a look at the Orgasm Gap, or the Pleasure Gap, which refers to how in studies, we see a persistent disparity: during sex, women experience much less orgasms than men. It’s to be noted that it is found mostly in heterosexual sexual encounters/experiences.
Asking the why - Why does the Orgasm Gap exist in the first place?
Before getting into the statistics and the nuances of the issue, it helps a lot to understand how this issue came to be so extensive in nature and yet escape the public spotlight. It first helps to look at the historical context of sex and the role of orgasms in sex. When the primary reason for sex was reproduction (as has been the case for most of history), women’s pleasure wasn’t important as men’s pleasure. This was due to the fact that for a pregnancy to occur, the men had to orgasm, it didn’t matter if the women in these scenarios did or not. Thus, women’s orgasms were never paid much attention to. It is only in recent times that sex has taken on the role of being a medium of pleasure. It should also be taken into account that whereas men take an average of 5 minutes or so to climax, their female counterparts take more time to reach their highs – somewhere around 15 minutes – almost thrice as much as the men in these situations. This in combination with a severe lack of knowledge about the female anatomy leads to the orgasm gap.
But how far-reaching is the problem - what do the numbers tell?
Although the problem may sound somewhat trivial, the problem is actually quite extensive. One study where more than 50,000 adults were surveyed estimates the number for men’s orgasms at around 95% whereas, for women, the number was at a staggering 65%. Another study where 800 college students were surveyed had a disparity of 52% – 91% men almost always experience orgasms during sex but for women, the number was as low as 39%. Moreover, this disparity is greater in hookup sex than in relationship sex. And this has big consequences. Many relationships end due to bad sexual encounters. When asked, 44% of women cited lack of orgasms as the main marker whereas 57% cited lack of adequate foreplay.
How to close the gap?
A huge part of the problem that leads to this gap is the lack of knowledge of the female anatomy – what helps with orgasm and what doesn’t. In the case of penis owners, it is quite simple. The primary pleasure organ is the penis itself. But with vagina owners, it tends to differ. We as a society tend to overvalue penetrative sex as being the most pleasurable. But unfortunately, in the case of women, that isn’t all that helps with their orgasms. A 2018 study found that 37% of women require clitoral stimulation to reach their climax.
In a study conducted where participants were required to label female genitalia, the results were shocking. Most survey takers (including women) couldn’t identify parts like the vulva, urethra, vagina or labia which could pinpoint the disparity – how do you experiment with things you have no idea about?
Thus to close the gap, proper knowledge of the female anatomy must be present. And to ensure that both the partners reach their orgasms, penetrative sex and clitoral stimulation must be held on the same ground. Alongside, foreplay can greatly help. Since women take longer than men to have their orgasms, foreplay becomes essential. It is through arousal that the vaginal walls lubricate itself which is how penetrative sex becomes pleasurable for women; otherwise not only can it be non-pleasurable, it may also be painful.
Oral sex or cunnilingus is also a particularly important part of foreplay when it comes to female orgasm. In fact, most women find it easier to orgasm through oral sex than through vaginal intercourse. However, women don’t receive oral sex nearly as much as their male counterparts. A study reported 44% of women received oral sex which is low when compared to the 63% in men. Good communication during sex also greatly heightens the pleasure, as what leads a woman to orgasm varies. Therefore, asking what works or what they want is quite effective. Communication after sex, most commonly referred to as pillow talk can also be a way to share thoughts about your experience – what you liked and what you didn’t or something you’d like to try the next time.
Pleasure is important for both the sexes – the conclusion and takeaway
Sex is an integral part of most people’s lives. And for an experience as important orgasm, it seems unfair for one-half of the heterosexual population to routinely experience less due to a lack of understanding of the female body. Sexual pleasure isn’t just for the male half, it is for the female half too. It is about time we start taking initiative to get properly educated about female anatomy and eradicate what at its core is a cultural problem.
Cover Illustration: Sure Check