Straight women are less likely to have an orgasm during sexual intimacy than any other group — including straight men, gay men, lesbians, bisexual men and bisexual women — according to a new study whose title could be “Duh.”
The orgasm gap is well-documented (“replicates a wide body of existing literature,” is the research-speak) but remains ripe for exploration, given that it hasn’t yet closed.
In the latest study, “Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample,” researchers from Chapman University, Indiana University and the Kinsey Institute examined the sexual behaviors of more than 52,000 American adults to determine who’s having the most orgasms and why. The findings are published in the upcoming issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.
“There’s been a lot of research on orgasm frequency, but there isn’t very much data that includes how both gender and sexual orientation relate to orgasm frequency,” lead author David A. Frederick, assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University, told me.
“There are actually multiple orgasm gaps,” Frederick said. “The gap between all men and all women — meaning all groups of men orgasm more frequently than all groups of women — the gap between lesbian women and heterosexual women, and the gap between lesbian women and all men.”
Heterosexual men were most likely to say they usually-to-always orgasm when they’re sexually intimate (95 percent), followed by gay men (89 percent), bisexual men (88 percent), lesbian women (86 percent), bisexual women (66 percent) and heterosexual women (65 percent).
Unlike the wage gap, however, the orgasm gap appears highly responsive to factors you can control at home.
Among women who simply had vaginal sex with their partner, 35 percent reported usually-to-always having an orgasm. Among women who receive oral sex and manual stimulation during sexual relations, 86 percent reported usually-to-always having an orgasm.
“Receiving oral sex is by far the strongest predictor of how frequently women orgasm,” Frederick said. “The second strongest predictor is how long sex lasted — meaning from the time you start being sexually intimate, not just intercourse.”
Zero to 15 minutes of sex provides the lowest frequency of orgasms for women; more than 30 minutes provides the highest.
Communicating with your partner during intimacy is also a strong predictor of orgasm, the study found.
“Of the women who usually-to-always orgasm, 45 percent had explicitly asked for something they wanted in bed in the past month,” Frederick said. “Among women who never-to-rarely orgasm, 25 percent had asked for something they wanted in bed in the last month.”
And as the famous quote goes (or should go, anyway), 100 percent of the orgasm is half mental. In other words, you have to stay in the moment. And as the study points out, that can be a challenge for women.
“Many women are dissatisfied with their appearance and weight, are less satisfied with their appearance than men and are more likely than men to be self-conscious about their bodies during sex,” the study states. “Body dissatisfaction interferes with ability to orgasm.”
Yet another reason to push back against those voices — internal and external — that tell you you’re not beautiful enough: They’re robbing you of your orgasms.
In all, the study is a handy tool in the valiant battle to narrow the orgasm gap and bring more harmony to more bedrooms.
“If you read magazines and sex guides, there’s tons of advice on what you should try,” Frederick said. “We were able to really look at the things that distinguish women who orgasm frequently from women who don’t. It’s one thing to give advice and another thing to isolate what factors are best able to influence orgasm frequency.”
God bless science.
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