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Why does the orgasm gap exist and how do you bridge it?

Society often views sexual problems as having biological roots. Yet, cultural factors and knowledge gaps also impact sexual experiences. Sexism, for instance, affects society and individual sex lives. This is evident in the Orgasm Gap, where studies show women have fewer orgasms than men during sex, especially in heterosexual encounters.

Asking the why: Why does the Orgasm Gap exist in the first place?

To understand the Orgasm Gap, consider its historical context. Traditionally, sex aimed at reproduction, prioritizing male pleasure as essential for pregnancy. Women’s pleasure was often overlooked. Now, sex is also seen as a source of pleasure. However, men and women differ in climax time, with women taking longer. Combined with limited knowledge about female anatomy, this contributes to the Orgasm Gap.

But how far-reaching is the problem – what do the numbers tell?

The Orgasm Gap is significant, not trivial. A survey of over 50,000 adults showed 95% of men but only 65% of women regularly experience orgasms. Another study with 800 students found a wider gap: 91% of men versus 39% of women. This disparity is even larger in casual sex. Such imbalances contribute to relationship issues, with 44% of women citing a lack of orgasms and 57% noting insufficient foreplay as key problems.

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 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. 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 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.

Way forward

Pleasure is important for both sexes.

Sex plays a key role in many people’s lives. Yet, due to limited understanding of female anatomy, half of the heterosexual population often has fewer orgasms. This imbalance in sexual pleasure, favoring men, highlights the need for better education about female anatomy to address this deeply rooted cultural issue.

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