Learn About Sexuality

Women are often unsure about orgasm during sex

Given the lack of precedents for female orgasm, we need strong evidence to support the human phenomenon. Kinsey found that women who engaged in sexual activity alone (masturbation) were successful in achieving orgasm 95% of the time. But he found that only two out of every five women (40%) who engaged in sexual activity with a lover (intercourse) said it was possible to orgasm only three times out of four (75% of the time). The rest found orgasm to be less reliable and a considerable number did not believe that orgasm was possible with a lover.

Some women say orgasm is impossible with a lover. It is unlikely that they are mistaken. While others think orgasm is possible sometimes with a lover. Researchers need to take human psychology into account. Women want to be attractive to men who encourage women to say that they orgasm.

A problem with surveys and simple ‘yes/no’ questions is that there is no way of knowing if someone knows what they are talking about. Once you have had an orgasm, not only do you know that you have had one but you also assume that anyone who has not had an orgasm, knows that they have not had one. But it is much more difficult to be sure about a lack of orgasm.

When researchers ask: “Do you orgasm from intercourse?”, the very act of asking the question implies that ‘yes’ is a legitimate reply as if such a feat is known to be possible. So women say: “Well I’m not sure if I have ever had an orgasm, perhaps once or twice.” The researcher says “OK what percentage would you say – perhaps 10% of the time?” She says “OK yes perhaps 10% of the time.” Another woman says “Yes I think I do sometimes but not always.” “Do you think perhaps 75% of the time?” “Yes maybe 75% of the time.” These statistics are a measure of women’s uncertainty about orgasm and not a true orgasm frequency. Success rates are never used to categorise male orgasms. A man has an orgasm – period.

While men talk of sexual pleasure openly and willingly, women’s silence is supposed to indicate their satisfaction. Once intercourse ends with male ejaculation, he is presumed to have also satisfied his lover. A woman is believed to orgasm from intercourse at some undefined point. No one can explain the anatomy and the turn-ons involved in these assumed orgasms.

Women are rarely specify the anatomy involved in female orgasm. Less educated women assume it’s the vagina because couples’ sex lives equate to intercourse. Less educated men spend less time on foreplay. Educated women (or their partners) are more likely to have heard of the role of the clitoris in female orgasm. No wonder then when researchers ask about women about orgasm, that some of them claim to orgasm in these ways.

Why was female orgasm such a secret for so long and why did it need a scientist, Kinsey, to tell the world of its existence? If intercourse caused female orgasm there wouldn’t be a mystery that needed researching in the first place. Yet Kinsey noted that many couples had no idea that women were even capable of orgasm. If women experienced sexual pleasure, they would initiate sexual activity with a lover and be more sexually willing.

Shere Hite’s findings were based on a sample of 3,500 women. Around half of the women said they “never or rarely orgasm from intercourse”. Imagine a room full of women. You ask them: “Do you orgasm from intercourse?” The first woman says “No”. The second woman says “Yes” and so on. What conclusion would you draw? You can’t. The result is inconclusive because women don’t know. This is why you are asking the question in the first place. If women knew, no one would have to ask.

Women think they are supposed to orgasm with a lover through vaginal or clitoral stimulation (or both) but there are no research findings to support this assumption. Whether women explain their orgasms in terms of the vagina or the clitoris it makes little difference. Women are assumed to orgasm with a lover at some point somehow. Researchers assume that women must participate in sexual activity because of their own arousal.

People are often unaware of their ignorance. Others are reluctant to admit they don’t know the answer. It’s human nature. Given a question with two possible answers even if women are just guessing, the result would be a 50:50 split given a large enough sample. That’s how probabilities work.

Sexual double standards that favour pleasuring men continue to prevail. But I also believe women often think they are having an orgasm when in fact they are not. (Nicole Prause 2014)

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