How to Close the Orgasm Gap

Most of the time, it’s relatively simple for a guy to orgasm during sex, especially if he’s really attracted to his partner sexually. In fact, sometimes we get too excited and climax a little too quickly, just as things are heating up. But that’s just not the case for women, who are far less likely to orgasm every time they have sex. This difference in orgasm frequency is commonly referred to as the “orgasm gap.”

FYI: When we talk about closing the orgasm gap, we’re not telling you to focus solely on making her come as fast as possible. That kind of pressure will probably make it even harder for her to come. The best way to close the orgasm gap is to prioritize her pleasure, which will in turn make her climax more likely. Now, back to understanding the orgasm gap:

How wide is it?

It’s tough to know exactly how big this orgasm gap is, but we do know it’s gaping. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that heterosexual women orgasm 63% of the time with a familiar partner, whereas men orgasm 85% of the time with a familiar partner. A 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found even further discrepancy, with straight women reaching orgasm 65% of the time and straight men reaching orgasm 95% of the time.

When it comes to casual sex, the numbers are even more extreme. A 2012 study in the American Sociological Review found that roughly 40% of women said they climaxed during their last hookup, compared to 80% of men.

Why does the orgasm gap exist?

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what’s causing the orgasm gap or why it exists, but here are a few things we know for sure are impacting the discrepancy in orgasm frequency between men and women.

A lack of sexual education.

“Sexual education is seldom focused on pleasure,” notes Gigi Engle, Womanizer’s resident sexologist and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: a Guide to Sex, Love, and Life.

Some men don’t realize that few women orgasm from penetration alone. A 2017 study published in the journal Sex and Marital Therapy found that only 18% of women have the capacity to orgasm from direct penetration alone; the rest of women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.

“The clitoris is rarely, if ever, engaged in penetrative sex,” says Engle. “This is why so many women have their first orgasm with a sex toy.”

Female sexual pleasure hasn’t been considered important.

“Women aren’t taught to prioritize pleasure or their sexual desires,” says Engle. “It is riddled with shame.”

Some men are also taught that sex is over once they orgasm, and that they are the focus of the sexual experience—not women. Porn reinforces this, Engle notes. Think about it: How often do you see a guy whip out a vibrator and pleasure a woman’s clitoris after ejaculating in a porno? Uh, basically never.

The female anatomy isn’t that much more complicated, but we think it is.

“Women are not more complex than men,” says Cyndi Darnell, a sex and relationships counselor and clinical sexologist. “This is a lie.”

When you look at the research, lesbians experience orgasms during sex nearly as often as straight men do, proving women can orgasm around as frequently as men during sex. It also shows P-in-V penetration isn’t the end-all be-all of sex, explains Darnell. “Queer women simply recognize that penetration is a lesser locus of pleasure for vulvas,” she says.

What can we do to fix the orgasm gap?

Understand that sex should not focus on intercourse or P-in-V action, experts say. “The very term ‘foreplay’ needs to abolished, as it undermines the very sex acts that give women orgasms in the first place,” says Engle. Her point is: Foreplay often is the play for the woman. The focus shouldn’t be about your destination (i.e., your own orgasm); it should be about the pleasurable journey together.

Society also need to encourage women to masturbate and voice their needs, explains Engle. And as men, you need to be receptive and actually listen and do as they say. Darnell also wants to encourage women to better learn about their own bodies, so they can better express what their needs are. She encourages women to masturbate more, use different toys, take an online workshop, and read more. Treat learning about orgasms and the female anatomy as you would anything else you’re trying to master, Darnell says.

What are specific tips to help her orgasm?

“Ask her what she wants,” says Engle. Some women might not feel comfortable letting you know when you’re doing something wrong (or something meh), so make it easy for them to tell you what it is that they need.

Also, in case it wasn’t abundantly clear by now, you should be using your fingers and tongue. “Give a lot of oral sex,” Engle adds. “This is the most reliable way to give women orgasms.”

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Additionally, enjoy what you’re doing. Often women feel guilty if they feel it’s taking too long and don’t think you’re enjoying it. “Tell her how hot it is to give her pleasure,” says Engle.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to bring sex toys into the bedroom. Don’t feel emasculated by them. After all, your dick can’t vibrate. Here’s a list of some our favorite sex toys for women that can definitely help her orgasm. If you need some additional tips when it comes to fingering a vulva, head here. For tips on how to get better going down on her, head here.

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