The orgasm gap, also known as orgasm inequality, refers to the numbers of orgasms men and women are having in heterosexual relationships. According to YouGov data, 30% of straight women and 61% of straight men reach orgasm every time they make love. Another study by A. Frederick, St. John, R. Garcia and A. Lloyd, published in 2017, found these numbers to be higher – 95% for men and 65% for women. Either way, the gap appears to be around 30%. This disparity can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration by both parties, and can even contribute to not feeling fully fulfilled within the relationship.
Why Does the Orgasm Gap Happen?
Lack of Understanding of Female Sexual Anatomy
According to a study by the North American Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, as many as 44% of college men could not identify the clitoris. An even higher percentage could not label the vagina – according to a YouGov study, 59% of men (compared to 45% of women) struggled with this task.
Not Enough Foreplay
For sex to be enjoyable for women, it helps if they are sexually aroused before vaginal penetration. The yoni walls lubricate during arousal, and the yoni herself lengthens and expands. Insufficient time for the excitement to build might make sex for women uncomfortable and even painful. So, a key factor in the orgasm gap is either not considering foreplay or not having enough of it. For the female orgasm, oral sex is a particularly significant component of foreplay. A lot of women find it easier to orgasm through oral sex than vaginal penetration.
Many of my female clients share with me that they perceive that it is their role to ‘please their partners’ by offering themselves for sex, even when they do not want to. Many are worried that if they do not, their partners may be unhappy, or even leave them. This leads to their bodies not feeling fully relaxed, making it more difficult to orgasm.
Prevalence of Sexual Trauma
According to the charity Rape Crisis England & Wales, 1 in 4 women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult, compared to 1 in 20 men. Higher prevalence in women can contribute to them not feeling safe in their bodies when it comes to sexuality, making it more difficult to relax and feel aroused. It can also contribute to conditions such as dyspareunia (painful sex) and vaginismus, which make having orgasms more difficult.
A Lack of Sexual Education
Gigi Engle, Womanizer’s resident sexologist observes that sexual education is rarely centred on pleasure. Some men are unaware that relatively few women orgasm from simple penetration. Only 18% of women can orgasm through direct penetration alone, according to a 2017 study that was published in the journal Sex and Marital Therapy. The remaining women require clitoral stimulation. According to Engle, “the clitoris is rarely if ever, engaged in penetrative intercourse.”
What To Do About the Orgasm Gap
Familiarise Yourself With Female Anatomy
Did you know that the clitoris is not just the small part that can be seen, which is located above the yoni opening? It is actually a much larger sexual organ, with the majority of it being located on the inside. Learning to stimulate the clitoral legs can help the woman to feel much more pleasure and arousal. In addition, knowing about the locations of the inner and outer labia, g-spot and cervix (as a starting point) can help to explore different ways of pleasuring women.
Get To Know Your Body And Ask For What You Want
The women can greatly help their partners by getting to know their bodies, learning what they like and don’t like, and being able to ask for what they want. If either knowing what you want or communicating it is initially difficult, tools such as Betty Martin’s Wheel of Consent and 3 minute game can greatly help.
Set The Scene & Try More Foreplay
It can be wonderful to set up the lovemaking space to please the senses with candles, music, incense, or whatever it is that helps you to make the space feel warm and relaxed. Devoting more time to foreplay can help the women to have more time to get aroused and feel more connected with their partners.
Explore Tantric Lovemaking
According to ancient Taoists, men are like small pots of water on a high flame, whilst women are more like large pots of water on a low flame. The small pots both heat up and cool down quickly, whilst it takes the large pots longer to warm up – but once they do, they stay hot for longer. Being aware of these dynamics can help the man and the woman to feel more in tune; if the men learn and practice non-ejaculatory orgasms, they are able to make love for much longer, increasing the chances for the woman to have some orgasms, too. Learning tantra together can also be a deeply intimate and connecting journey.
Be More Aware of Consent & Boundaries
If the women are able to feel into their bodies and notice when they don’t want something to happen to them, and are able to say no and have that respected, they can start to feel more safe and relaxed in their bodies. Over time, this can help them to open up to feeling greater pleasure and arousal. Dropping expectations and focusing on the ‘goal’ of orgasm can also be helpful by reducing any pressure around performance anxiety.
Release Tension & Trauma
Having both somatic and talking therapy can help to overcome any lasting effects of past negative sexual experiences, opening the way for a more enjoyable sex life.
How Tantric Therapy Can Help
I work with men, women and couples in Teesside/ Yorkshire, London and online to help address the above issues. This is done by:
- Releasing tension from the body
- Education around anatomy, communication and lovemaking skills
- Connecting more deeply with your own body and developing mindfulness skills
- Finding ways for couples to re-connect or connect more deeply with each other