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Women are often unsure about orgasm during sex

Men assume that women experience sex drive, arousal and orgasm as readily as they do. So they believe that women orgasm with a lover: by manual or oral stimulation of the clitoris and by intercourse, where stimulation is focused on the vagina. It is no wonder then that, when researchers ask about women about orgasm, some claim to orgasm in these ways.

Kinsey found two in five women said that they could orgasm with a lover ‘sometimes’. Hite found half could orgasm ‘regularly’ during sex. Today, with no further research evidence, few sources ever admit that women are likely to have any difficulty with orgasm with a lover. The progression is clear but heterosexual lovemaking techniques are largely unchanged.

Once you have had an orgasm, it seems self-evident. Not only do you know that you have had one but you also assume that someone who has not had one, knows that they have not had one. It is true that if you experience orgasm in one situation but not another then you know because you know what you are expecting. But if you have never had an orgasm ever then it is much more difficult to be sure.

We assume that anyone claiming to orgasm must know what they are talking about. But asking women questions about orgasm is futile when they don’t know the answers.

It is not possible for someone to be vague about how they achieve orgasm. Orgasm involves a person’s mind focusing on some form of eroticism. Women’s accounts of emotional sensations are accepted as simply being the female alternative to the male need for cruder erotic images.

Sex research is led by men and they don’t take into account the extreme pressure on women to say that they respond to intercourse. If you ask women a leading question such as: “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.

Kinsey found that only some women (36-44% of his sample) said they could orgasm with a partner sometimes (70-77% of the time). Of course some women say that they do ‘sometimes’ but almost no women say that they ‘always’ orgasm during intercourse. It doesn’t make sense to accept women saying that they can orgasm through intercourse ‘sometimes’.

It’s reasonable that someone might occasionally attempt orgasm but not achieve it. But generally we engage in genital stimulation because we are aroused enough for orgasm. We obtain the stimulation we need until we reach orgasm. If women could orgasm with a lover, then they would simply masturbate themselves once a man has had his orgasm.

Shere Hite’s findings were based on a total sample size of 3,500 women. Around half of the women said they “never or rarely orgasm from intercourse”.

Imagine you have a room full of (relatively confident and sexually experienced) women and you ask them the question: “Do you orgasm from intercourse?” You ask the first woman and she says “No”. Then you ask the second woman and she says “Yes”. And so on. What conclusion would you draw? Frankly it’s difficult to drawn any firm conclusion.

But who should we have most faith in? The women who say orgasm is impossible or the women who think it is sometimes? Which women are most popular with men? Which group is most likely to contain women who are unsure about orgasm or who are simply not willing to be unpopular? Researchers must take into account human psychology.

It’s human nature. Many people are reluctant to admit they don’t know the answer. Given a question with two possible answers even if women are just guessing, the chances are the result would be a 50:50 split given a large enough sample. That’s how probabilities work. Another problem with simple ‘yes/no’ questions is that you cannot detect easily whether someone knows what they are talking about. Orgasm surveys simply reflects the uncertainty women feel about orgasm with a lover. Women who masturbate are much more confident of orgasm as a specific and erotic phenomenon. The anatomy involved is consistently the clitoris.

Researchers ask women ‘How often do you orgasm alone or with a lover?’ They don’t suggest that orgasm might be very rare or unlikely. 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 perhaps 75% of the time.” So these statistics are more a measure of women’s uncertainty about orgasm than a true orgasm frequency. They make the results completely meaningless.

In some cases, it was not even clear to the woman herself whether there had been an orgasm or merely high levels of arousal. (Shere Hite 1976)

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