As it stands, sex education does not cover female sexual pleasure and focuses primarily on all the bad things that could happen – like unexpected pregnancies and STI’s – rather than the good things: pleasure and healthy relationships.
This lack of focus on female pleasure is thought to contribute to the orgasm gap – which describes how, in heterosexual relationships, women on average have fewer orgasms than men.
One study of over 50,000 adults found that 95% of heterosexual men reported that they usually or always orgasmed during sex. Gay and bisexual men also fared pretty well, with orgasm success rates of 89% and 88%, with women trailing behind. Heterosexual women report orgasming only 65% of the time.
However there is some evidence that empowering women and men with clitoral knowledge and evidence-based methods to enhance women’s orgasm can improve sexual pleasure for women. See Becoming Cliterate by Dr Laurie Mintz for more info.
In her second GLAMOUR column, Dr Hazel Wallace sheds some light on the real facts of female pleasure and help you – with or without a partner – to have great sex.
Myth #1: Most women orgasm from penetration alone
Let’s just get to the point – most women need clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. In fact, one study found as little as 4% of women report penetrative sex as their ‘most reliable route to orgasm’. This is rarely – if ever – emphasised in the media, movies, or porn, where orgasm seems to be achieved through a few heavy hip thrusts alone.
Bottom line is orgasms from penetrative sex alone are not common – it’s not you, it’s your anatomy and the fact that sex education completely ignores female sexual pleasure. So don’t be afraid to speak up and communicate your needs to your partner whether that’s with the help of hands, toys or oral sex.
Myth #2: Sex toys can harm your sex life
Someone once asked me how to wean themselves off sex toys because they were afraid it would worsen their sex life in the long run. First things first, it’s perfectly healthy to use sex toys either alone or with a partner(s). Studies show that women who use vibrators have better sexual experiences (including desire, arousal, lubrication, less pain, and more orgasms!) It’s not about replacing, or making up for a lack of something, but enhancing.
A small percentage of people experience mild and short-lived numbness after using a vibrator, but this is temporary – lasting minutes to hours. If you find this happens, have a play around with the settings by reducing the speed and intensity of vibration and reducing the pressure you apply.
Myth #3: People are having more sex than you
People often quote the normal amount of sex as “three times a week” and I’m not entirely sure where it’s come from, but I know that most people are having far less sex than that. In the UK it seems that most sexually active people are having sex roughly once a week. Of course this is based on averages, and shouldn’t be used as a way to assess the health of your sex life.