Yes, the orgasm gap is real. The orgasm gap describes the disparity women face in heterosexual relationships when it comes to the number of orgasms they experience in relation to their male counterparts.
Is this because of a lack of knowledge of female anatomy? Is this because we have grown accustomed to not having them? Rachel Bilson recently revealed that she didn’t have an orgasm from intercourse with a man until she was 38 during her podcast, Broad Ideas. Or is this because our expectations around sex have been so altered by society that we don’t know where to begin to reshape them? Let’s talk about the orgasm gap and how to close it.
Why is there an orgasm gap?
The orgasm gap exists because there is a collective unawareness of female sexuality and pleasure. And women have been largely discouraged from speaking up about it. A 2019 study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that nearly 60% of women have faked an orgasm. Why have we decided that faking an orgasm is better than communicating? Most women believe it is better to fake an orgasm because they feel embarrassed, they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings, or they don’t feel comfortable going into detail.
The reasons women have given for why they have faked an orgasm reflects how our society has depicted heterosexual sex encounters. Film, television, and porn often portray a heterosexual couple engaging in penetrative sex without foreplay, perpetuating the idea that women are ready whenever the man is and women are finished when the man is finished. Not only is this idea far from the truth, but it is also harmful. No one wins when you fake an orgasm.
What can be done to close the orgasm gap
Redefine what sex is
Historically, we have used sex and intercourse synonymously and we have defined foreplay as just an act leading up to sex. We are here to tell you that foreplay is sex. It is touching, kissing, oral, mutual masturbation, and incorporating toys and other accessories for pleasure. Both men and women can reach orgasm through foreplay alone without penetrative sex. Expanding our perceived notion of what sex is and what it should look like will open us up to more orgasms.
Forget what culturally has been taught
When it comes to the orgasm gap, we must turn to what we have been culturally taught. Let’s start with the female anatomy. Vagina has been used to describe the entire anatomy of a woman. However, the vagina is just the internal muscular canal within our reproductive system.
Our culture overvalues the vagina and mislabels the vulva. The vulva is the external structure and includes our clitoris – a structure that’s main function is to provide pleasure. The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings for a reason! Yet, culturally we have been taught to prioritize intercourse as the only way a woman can receive pleasure.
Many young adults gather their information on sex from film, television, and pornography for better or for worse. If, as a culture, we shift our focus to foreplay and less on intercourse, the orgasm gap will eventually close.
Communicate what you need from sex
There is a lack of knowledge surrounding the female anatomy. First, explore your body. Learn what you like and what you need. Introduce sex toys to your pleasure exploration to further help you learn about your own pleasure. Many women exclusively need clitoral stimulation to reach climax, whereas other women need both penetration and clitoral stimulation, and some women can orgasm from penetration alone.
There are so many ways to experience pleasure, so learn what works best for you and communicate that to your partner. Don’t be afraid to be direct with them about exactly what to do. We all feel pleasure and reach climax differently.
Look at sex as a journey
We have been taught that climax is the goal when having sex. It’s the key performance indicator that the sex was good. However, placing pressure on having an orgasm will stunt your ability to orgasm. Sex is not a race. Look at sex as a journey. A journey with many pleasure stops along the way.
Not every orgasm we have is going to be this earth-shattering, toe-curling, back-arching masterpiece that we have been shown and taught. Each orgasm will be different. Some orgasms will be grand. Others will be smaller. You may also experience multiple orgasms or stacked orgasms. Multiple orgasms happen when you experience an orgasm after just having one. There might be a few minutes in between each orgasm. Stacked orgasms happen when you experience a wave of orgasms and remain in an orgasmic state.
The only way we can close the orgasm gap is to free ourselves from traditional ideologies around sex and let go of any reservations. Let’s rewrite the status quo around female sexuality, pleasure, and orgasms. Everyone deserves to feel pleasure.
FemmePharma has been helping women navigate menopause for over two decades. No matter where you are in your journey, you deserve to have knowledgeable, intimate healthcare partners to help you feel your best. Explore our other articles, podcast episodes with women’s health experts, and products to ease your transition into menopause.
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