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We Definitely ‘Mind’ the Orgasm Gap—Here’s Why

As if the wage gap wasn’t enough!

We Definitely ‘Mind’ the Orgasm Gap—Here’s Why

There’s an orgasm discrepancy in the United States.

Multiple nationwide studies have confirmed that the phenomenon known as the orgasm gap is 100% real. We’ll be screaming about this at the next dinner party we attend—and we figured you’d want the 4-1-1, too. 

What is the orgasm gap? 

In 2017, a team of researchers (now published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior) conducted a comprehensive study of intimacy in American couples—and what they discovered was wild. 

Across gender identities and sexual orientations, heterosexual women were the least likely to experience consistent orgasms during sex with a partner. While 95% of heterosexual men, 89% of gay men, 88% of bisexual men, 86% of lesbian women, and 66% of bisexual women reported usually or always orgasming during intercourse—only 65% of straight women reported the same. 

So, when we talk about the orgasm gap, we’re referring to the massive disparity in orgasms (95% vs. 65%) between heterosexual men and women. These two groups are typically engaging in intercourse with each other—but while one in the pairing is most likely to ‘get there’ during sex, the other is least likely. Yikes. 

Further research confirms that most women are able to achieve consistent orgasms when masturbating or having sex with other women

Now, it’s important to note that these studies don’t capture every sexual orientation and are somewhat cisnormative, but the data shows that there’s a massive pleasure disparity. Long story short: women who are having sex with men come less than anyone else.

Why does the orgasm gap exist? 

Sex and intimacy researchers have been attempting to unpack the orgasm gap for a while. The consensus on why? A fundamental lack of understanding about the female body and how pleasure works. 

In a deep dive with NBC, intimacy expert Dr. Laurie Mintz names ignorance of the clitoris as the prime reason for the orgasm gap—closely followed by a “cultural devaluing of female pleasure.” 

We couldn’t agree more. For centuries, it’s been societally understood that sex is not meant to be pleasurable for women. Too many women have grown up hearing that pain during sex is something we should fake-moan-and-bear-it through, or that the female orgasm is an elusive and rare phenomenon.

For most heterosexual women, aimless jack-hammering and fumbling around doesn’t cut it, but many have been told to just deal with it. And therein lies our issue. 

Why does the orgasm gap matter? 

Orgasms have wider benefits beyond pleasure: they can increase brain activity, regulate your menstrual cycle, bolster your immune system, and relieve cramps. The big “O” is good for the soul, mind, and body, and the fact that a huge chunk of people are missing out is more than disappointing. 

Yes, the orgasm gap is a massive arrow pointing at what we already know: women’s sexuality is widely misunderstood. But it’s also an indicator of something bigger. Even during an incredibly intimate act, women are simply not being heard by those who aren’t women. And there’s nothing less pleasurable than that. 

What can we do about the orgasm gap? 

Erasing the gap is a big task. Per experts, it involves shifting society’s focus on penetrative sex, widespread education on the female body and pleasure, and working on cis-het-normative views of intimacy, for a start. 

Smaller picture? If you are experiencing the ‘gasm chasm and you’re asking yourself what you need to do about it, here’s our answer. 

We’re not going to give you the all-too-familiar confidence pep talk, because you can’t girlboss your way to climax. If you’re not getting your jollies while your sexual partner is, then you aren’t the only one that should be trying to change that—your partner should be a part of this journey, too. Our tips for you include: 

Be honest. 

Don’t fake it! It might be tempting to pull out your best performance when it’s clear you’re not going to arrive at your intended destination, but resist the urge. Faking an orgasm isn’t going to help you and it’s definitely not going to help your partner. Find a way to let them know (gently, of course) that you didn’t quite get there. This way, you can both troubleshoot together and find a way forward.

Be curious. 

This is where you become your own sex detective. If you’re on SSRIs or any other medication that may hinder arousal or orgasm, speak with your primary care physician or medical provider about potential solutions or natural supplements that could help. If you feel like you might be experiencing an emotional or psychosomatic roadblock to the big finish, have a conversation with your mental health care provider and/or partner to see what might be causing that, and how to get around it. 

Be easy on yourself. 

Release the pressure! You deserve an orgasm, but that doesn’t mean you should stress yourself out trying to get one. Sex should be fun, enjoyable, and pleasurable throughout. If you’re making every tryst an all-out race to the finish line each time, there’s no fun in that. Focus on pleasurable exploration with your partner, employ plenty of foreplay, and understand that penetrative sex isn’t the only kind out there.

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