The term orgasmic gap refers to the fact that women who have sex with men have far fewer orgasms than they do. It would be something like the pay gap but in orgasms. It is common for men to have orgasms in almost all of their sexual relationships; however, women have them much less frequently, and there are even women who directly never have them.
Before we talk about why this happens, let’s first see what we mean when we talk about orgasm. Orgasm is usually defined as the highest point of excitement in sexual intercourse, or as a discharge of all the tension accumulated during the encounter. However, this is only half true. Orgasm is another part of the sexual response, just like desire or the arousal process. It is true that it is a very high point of excitement, but it does not have to be the part of the meeting that we necessarily enjoy the most and many times it does not resemble the fireworks we see in the movies.
Orgasm is a reflex that is triggered by the accumulation of sensations that the brain receives when there is sexual stimulation. What happens physiologically in the body when there is an orgasm is that there are involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds. These contractions are usually experienced in the form of pleasure in the pelvic area and occur in a rhythmic way, at first more in a row, and as the seconds pass, more slowly or more widely. This is what happens in the body, but each person is a world and the subjective experience of orgasms can be very different from one person to another.
Both men and women have the ability to have orgasms and yet men have orgasms much more often than women in their sexual relationships. In the research that has been done on this topic, both men and women have been asked how often they orgasm during sexual intercourse. Let’s see some of this data:
- Have had orgasms forever in their relationships: 33% of women compared to 75% of men. That is, 3 out of 10 women compared to almost 8 out of 10 men.
- Have had orgasms habitually in their relationships: 65% of women versus 95% of men. Slightly more than half of women compared to practically all men.
- Not always experience orgasms in their relationships: 75% of women versus 28% of men. Nearly 8 out of 10 women versus less than 3 out of 10 men.
- Never experience orgasms in their relationships: 20% of women versus 2% of men. In other words, for every man who never has orgasms in his relationships, there are 10 women in the same situation.
What are these differences due to? There is a myth that women are more difficult to orgasm, but this is not true. Among women who have sex with women, the percentage of women who do experience orgasms regularly is 86%. And the percentage of women who never orgasm drops to 6%. This may invite us to think that it is easier among women because they have the same genitalia (in the case of cisgender women). But this argument loses force if we look at research of men who have sex with men: the percentage who usually experience orgasms on a regular basis drops to 89%, compared to 95% in heterosexual men.
The summary of all this is that heterosexual women have the least orgasms in their sexual relations and heterosexual men those who have the most. But this is not due to a question of genitalia and supposed complexities of the bodies, but rather has to do with something more social and cultural: men and women are educated in different ways regarding sexuality. While male sexuality has historically been perceived as a biological need, and even as an urge that needs to be satisfied, female sexuality has been silenced and invisible for many, many centuries.
Men have always been given more permission than women to explore and express their desire and sexuality in general from a young age. For example, it is commonly assumed that the vast majority of adolescent men masturbate. Sometimes it is even normalized to talk about it without too much conceit. However, it is not taken for granted that all adolescent women masturbate, much less that it is talked about on a regular basis. It is true that there are less and less taboos with these topics, but there are still quite a few present. And all of this has its implications. On the one hand, it influences that many women do not know how their own pleasure works. And if they do not know how their pleasure works, it is difficult for them to communicate their likes or needs to their partners. Along the same lines, regarding relationships with other people, men have been educated to be proactive in the pursuit of their pleasure, while women historically have been educated to please and put the needs of the another ahead of their own.
Another issue that greatly influences the lack of orgasms in women is the coitocentric model of sexual relations. That is, penetration is seen as the most important practice and as the end of all sexual relations. Most men do have orgasms through penetration, while the majority of women (up to 80% according to some studies) do not orgasm through vaginal stimulation alone. For most women, the main source of orgasms is external stimulation of the clitoris. So if sexual intercourse is primarily focused on penetration, it is less likely that there will be an orgasm for them.
With all this, the lack of knowledge about their own bodies and the education that women receive regarding sexuality can make it difficult for them to claim the importance of their orgasms before their sexual partners. It has long been taken for granted that women have fewer orgasms, but we haven’t stopped too long to look at why, instead it has been downplayed. And it is true that orgasm does not have to be the most important part or the end of sexual relations, there can be sexual relations that are enjoyed a lot without the need for an orgasm. But if by habit women consistently have far fewer orgasms than men, it is unequal sex. For this reason, it is important to work on self-knowledge, to know what things give us pleasure and to give ourselves permission to express what things we like, what type of stimulation we need to have orgasms; also prioritize your own pleasure, in addition to that of the other person; and normalize and facilitate communication with our sexual partners, ask for and agree on the practices that we like the most.
Damonti, P. (2020). The orgasmic gap. Cataclysm Books.
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The orgasmic gap – Lasexologia.com
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