When’s the last time you had an orgasm? It’s okay, don’t be shy. Has it been a while? If you’re a heterosexual woman, the answer might be yes. Maybe you’ve never had one at all. But trust me, you’re not alone. 

There’s a great disparity in the frequency of orgasms between partners, particularly between heterosexual men and women, called the orgasm gap. Let’s talk statistics for a second. In heterosexual sexual encounters, this gap means that 91 percent of men report experiencing orgasms with partners on a regular basis, while only 39 percent of women feel the same way. Now, buckle up for this next one. In first–time heterosexual hookups, 55 percent of men say they always orgasm, while 4 percent— yes, 4 percent—of women say they do. 

I often have low expectations for first–time hookups with men. Depictions of sex in movies, music, and art often imply that both parties get off all the time, every time. So when a guy comes and asks me if I did too, I hesitate to invalidate his best efforts with averted–eyes and a polite, “Well, uh, not really.” Ultimately, I do what too many women in similar situations do: I lie. I don’t exaggerate and tell him that he was anything close to the best sex of my life, but I might give him a little bit more of a pat on the back than he deserves.

For a long time, I accepted my fate as someone doomed to a life of rare orgasms. I loved joining in the mantras of “men are terrible” and “he can’t find the clit” until I realized that it didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t getting off. Was I really undermining the patriarchy with my deceitful pillow talk or was I actually perpetuating it by not letting my partners know of their shortcomings? The more I thought about the consequences of not discussing my lack of orgasms, the more I started to see a long line of orgasm–less women ahead of me, all of us lying to poor boys who would go on living in blissful ignorance, never satisfying their partners in the ways they deserve.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should say that I don’t believe the orgasm gap is inherently the fault of men, but rather of the taboo ways with which we still treat sex. There are also statistics suggesting men are great at bringing their partners to orgasms in homosexual relationships, and the same goes for women. This makes sense. When we have sex with people whose anatomies are similar to our own, we know our way around the neighborhood. Regardless, orgasm gaps can exist in nearly every kind of relationship or sexual encounter. But fear not, for I have a few tips to help you get to that coveted finishing line.

The easiest way to help increase the number of orgasms in your life is to learn more about your own body. I’m always surprised by the amount of women who complain about subpar sex, but also have no idea where their own clitoris is. Open and confident communication is key to a healthy, happy, and orgasmic sexual encounter, but how can we expect our partners to know how to give our bodies the pleasure we need if we’ve never taken the time to figure it out for ourselves? As it turns out, what most people refer to as the vagina is actually everything but that. Using this blanket term to describe all aspects of female genitalia is counterproductive because it allows us to ignore the unique arrangements and concentrations of nerve endings around the vulva (the proper blanket term for external female genitalia), and neglect the most erotic areas. 

The vagina is actually what connects the uterus to the external female genitalia, and it’s the area of stimulation that most people typically think of when they talk about sex. But herein lies another roadblock to orgasms, because sex should not be synonymous with intercourse. While intercourse is a fairly reliable path to the male orgasm in heterosexual relationships, the same cannot be said for women. Get ready for another number — only 5 percent of women say they can rely on regular orgasms from intercourse.

Even though much of this advice is specific to heterosexual women, in order to finally close the orgasm gap, we all need to start giving a little more value to our own pleasure. We need to identify sexual stereotypes in popular culture when we see them, and encourage those around us to adopt a sex positivity that prioritizes more than just the standard male orgasm. The benefits of communication go far beyond improving our sexual health. Comfortably opening up to others about our desires gives us a self–validation that can help reduce body shaming and normalize the beautifully intricate road to orgasms for all involved. 


Comments

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.