When it comes to orgasm, there is a flagrant inequality between men and women; scientists describe this difference as an "orgasmic gap" ("Orgasmic gap" in English).
Studying an orgasm is not an easy task. The research we do at Concordia University in Montreal is about the psychology of sexual behavior. We are particularly interested in the "controversy" surrounding the clitoris orgasm as opposed to vaginal orgasm.
We have synthesized the literature on the current state of knowledge and the different points of view regarding this phenomenon in women. The characterization of female orgasm has been discussed for more than a century. Although scientists have some idea of what an orgasm is, there is still a lot of uncertainty about how it happens.
Orgasm is one of the few phenomena that occurs as a result of the simultaneous and very complex interaction of different physiological and psychological mechanisms. There may be evolutionary reasons why men are more inclined to reach orgasm during sex. However, we should not limit ourselves to this idea. Indeed, part of the problem lies in the bedroom.
To have them or not
Each person has his preferences when it comes to sexual practices. But we all have one thing in common: we know what it is to have an orgasm, or not to have one. It can happen to us to have sex without reaching orgasm, and that is completely normal. Indeed, people can have sex for different reasons. However, many studies have shown that women get an orgasm less often than men during sex.
For example, in a nationwide survey conducted in the United States for an orgasm reported by a woman, men reported three. Heterosexual men reported that they often or always had an orgasm during an intimate relationship, 95% of the time.
This inequality seemed to be lower among homosexuals and bisexuals, while 89% of gay men, 88% of bisexual men, 86% of lesbians and 66% of bisexual women reported having reached orgasms during sex.
The most reliable type of stimulation to achieve orgasm in women is oral sex
Let's take a closer look at what the orgasmic gap can explain. Research shows that the type of relationship we have with our partner has something to do with it. In the case of a person who has a long-term relationship, for example, the gap will be smaller, while in the case of incidental sexual relationships it will tend to widen.
For example, women who are in a long-term relationship report that they reach orgasm up to 86% of the time, while women who prefer to have sex report that they have an orgasm only 39% of the time. Also note that heterosexual women often easily achieve orgasm through masturbation.
Similarly, the more the partner has a thorough knowledge of the female genitals (especially the clitoris), the greater the chance that the woman has frequent orgasms. Finally, and most importantly, the respondents reported that the most reliable form of stimulation to achieve orgasm in women is oral sex.
We do not know why there is such a gap between informal sex and long-term relationships. But part of the answer may lie in the way we communicate our sexual desires and expectations, as well as our attitude toward sexual pleasure.
What sex education you have not learned
The school learns a variety of relevant topics. Sexual education is, however, still the subject of debate, in particular of a moral nature. For many of us, sex education was about the biology of the reproductive system and the precautions that had to be taken to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
Until recently, sex education in the United States was mainly aimed at preventing young people from having intimate contacts. [En France, l’histoire de l’éducation sexuelle est quelque peu différente. Les sexologues se sont notamment illustrés au cours des années 1970, lors du renouveau de la sexologie hexagonale, ndlr.]
"Always use condoms" may still be the most progressive message in the context of sex education. Nowadays, the methods have evolved and we learn what sexuality is and what ethical and respectful sexual relationships are.
But again, we avoid dealing with the subject in its entirety. What about sexual pleasure, ways to discover what we find sexually fun, or to have satisfying and satisfying sexuality? How can we communicate our preferences to our sexual partners or address other essential aspects of intimate life?
The key to achieving the ultimate goal – having fun – is knowing what you and your partner want and how you can make each other happy. That is why any incomplete or biased sex education – which omits the fact that sexuality is not only related to procreation but also includes pleasure – is detrimental to both men and women.
The first thing that should probably be learned about sex is that it is one of the favorite hobbies of adults. Attempts to prevent sex today only increase the chance that future generations will do more. But they will know even less how they can get maximum satisfaction.
Some tips for sexual partners
Faced with the orgasmic gap, our initial reaction may be to point the finger and blame others: cultural attitudes, religion, society, the education system, our ex, and so on. Nonetheless, anyone who is reasonable at all will agree that the orgasmic gap is a multifactorial phenomenon.
When it comes to your own privacy, the statistics do not weigh heavily on the balance. Only you and your partner (s) are present in the bedroom and that is the only thing that counts. It is not possible to create or activate an orgasm with others. It can only be easier to achieve, more fun and more satisfying for his or her partner.
Even if you have a good idea of what your partner likes in bed, the fact remains that tastes vary considerably from person to person. That is why understanding what your partner wants – how, when, where and for how long – requires openness, mutual trust and, above all, good communication.
These key elements can be the missing ingredients in many relationships, both informally and on a long-term basis. We could all be more open and humble, and recognize that with a good attitude and the right person to inform us, it is possible to improve things.
Indeed, improve your sexual skills and your skills to satisfy your partner with practice; it goes without saying that sex life should improve after negative experiences.
There is very little in this world that everyone can enjoy, and orgasm is one of them. Remember that sexual pleasure does not lie in reaching the top of the mountain, but in the path you take to get there.
What can we do? Speak, trust and watch your partner.
The concept of satisfaction has different meanings depending on the person. The most important thing is what you and your partner want. Breaking the glass ceiling of an orgasm is a team effort. Sexuality is fun – and everyone has things to learn about it.
This article has been republished in The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.