What is the orgasm gap? And how to close it

Sex is meant to be a revolutionary experience, right? Starting from before we’ve even had sex ourselves, many popular TV shows and films make this natural physical activity out to be the most wondrous, exciting, and pleasurable activity of them all - which, don’t get us wrong, it can be. But in reality, this buildup can often be a major letdown. Especially for women. 

The International Academy of Sex Research conducted a study documenting the differences in orgasm frequency among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual men and women. While results showed that gay and straight men climax during 85% of their sexual encounters, it was found that heterosexual women orgasm at just 65% when having sex with a man. Slightly higher at 75% was women having sex with women, but when it comes to first-time hookups the gap widens massively: only 40% of women reach orgasm compared to 80% of men.

So, What is the Orgasm Gap?

What we’ve just explained is essentially known as the orgasm gap or sometimes, the pleasure gap, and it’s most common in heterosexual relationships. Referring to a variety of research resources as well as the study above, the ‘gap’ records the consistent imbalance of the average time it takes for a male to reach climax compared to a female from penetration.

And while everyone deserves a fulfilling and sensual sex life, it seems that this disparity between climaxes on a purely heterosexual basis means there is still work to be done. So, with the orgasm gap covered, now comes the real question - how can we close it?

Understanding the Female Anatomy More

Back in 2013, The North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology published a study that produced some unbelievable results. It stated that 44% of college men were unable to identify the clitoris, and surprisingly 29% of college-aged women were unable to locate it either.

To experience pleasure, we must first understand the female anatomy. Otherwise, how will any progress be made? 

The clitoris is one of the most fascinating organs - it’s the only organ whose sole purpose is to provide pleasure, which means it’s very sensitive. (It has over 8,000 nerve endings - double the number of the penis.) Not all of them look the same, and there’s much more to this incredible organ than literally meets the eye - the visible part is just the beginning. 

Underneath the surface, there is a complex structure that encompasses the vagina and other internal organs. This is why - when aroused - penetrative sex can feel astonishing. But when it’s not, women often describe uncomfortable and painful sex, or just nothing at all. This is because the pleasure doesn’t come from the vagina - it’s all to do with the clit.

Once women’s sexual anatomy is understood, it opens up so many doors when it comes to sex, and closing this pleasure gap. It also reduces body shame, as people learn that there’s no one size fits all when it comes to genitalia, and it helps to improve self-care. 

Alongside this, when self-exploration is encouraged from an early age - even if it’s just learning the names of the female anatomy on a diagram, both women and men can learn what feels good, and how this may evolve as the body grows older.

Increase Foreplay

In order for penetrative sex to be pleasurable for women, they need to be sexually aroused first. This is because the vaginal walls need to be lubricated and the vagina needs to lengthen and expand for a comfortable, painless and enjoyable experience. 

The solution? Foreplay. Sexual partners need to be conscious that it takes longer for women to be ‘ready’ for sex, which means foreplay needs to play a major part in the lead up to penetration. And what happens if it's neglected? The orgasm gap doesn’t disappear.

For females, oral sex is a really important aspect of foreplay, especially when it comes to orgasm. However, according to a study analysing gender differences in oral sex practices, it was found that men actually received more oral sex than women - 63% over 44%. If this continues, this gap is never going to close. 

To combat this, try things like postponing penetration until the female is fully aroused. Or, wait until the woman has actually orgasmed to have sex. Women can experience more than one orgasm in a session, so just because a climax has already happened, it doesn't mean the sex has to stop.

Talk and Communicate More

When you’re in the throes of pleasure, make sure you’re constantly communicating with your partner. Whether you’re orally or manually stimulating your sexual partner, be sure to ask questions to make sure she likes something or if you’re doing it right. For example, does that feel good? What about if I do it this way? This way, your partner knows that you are conscious of their experience, which can often be a turn-on in itself. 

For the non-talkers, make sure you pay attention to her body language, facial expressions, breathing, groans, and any other non-verbal cues. You’ll be able to gauge whether your partner is into something or not, so if you’re doing something you can tell she enjoys - keep going. 

A lot of the time, sexual partners may not feel comfortable opening up about their wants and needs during sex, especially if it’s a new hookup. So, making sure you both understand and trust each other on a non-verbal level is a valuable asset to have when it comes to orgasm and closing the gap.

Keep Going After the Partner Orgasms

We’ve all been there when the male orgasms and then the sex is done. But much to the frustration of many women, it seems that a lot of men don’t realise that the sexy times can continue even though they’ve finished. 

While many men will quickly lose their erections once they’ve climaxed, it’s important to remember the other aspects of sex (hello, foreplay!) can still be had - especially when the woman isn’t ready to finish just yet. 

In this scenario, there’s nothing stopping you from continuing without penetration. Go back to where you left off with the oral sex, or get a vibrator on the go to ensure the woman climaxes. Ask your partner what it is she feels she needs to finish and go with it. Trust - it’s still a lot of fun.

Let’s Close the Gap

Regardless of gender or sexuality, the majority of people want to close the orgasm gap. With sex being such an integral part of a relationship, it’s important that both parties feel listened to when it comes to this aspect. 

Whether you need to school yourself on the female anatomy more, or you need to dust off your oral sex skills and employ the ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ anecdote, it’s not completely impossible to eradicate the pleasure gap.

And by remembering that communication is key, partners can become more confident when it comes to voicing their sexual needs in the bedroom.