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Men and Women's Sexual Experiences
If you're a woman you're no doubt astounded by how quickly your man can reach orgasm during intercourse – probably much too quickly for your liking! But don't forget that he's going to be astounded at the intensity of your orgasm, and your capacity for multiple orgasms.
All of which leaves us with an interesting question – who has better orgasms, women or men?
We all know (don't we?) that women are more likely to have difficulty getting to orgasm, and recent research shows that men do indeed have more orgasms than women – there's what's known as an "orgasm gap" between the sexes.
What this means is that men reach orgasm 85% of the time during sexual experiences with their partner, while women reach orgasm on average 67% of the time during sexual activity with their partner.
So does the capacity that women have to reach multiple orgasm and enjoy longer orgasms make up for the fact that they have fewer orgasms?
In short, who enjoys sex more?
Research shows that women's orgasms last for 20 seconds on average, while a man's orgasm can be as little as three seconds, but is more often around eight seconds in length.
So perhaps the issue really here is not about whether men or women have better orgasms, but about the type of sex which people have.
In other words, perhaps men are not providing women with something that they actually need to reach orgasm as much as they could do! Do men, in fact, stop women reaching orgasm somehow?
For example, lesbians are 12% more likely to have an orgasm during sex than straight women, and a quarter of lesbians say they reach orgasm every time they have sex. Could it be, therefore, that lesbians actually understand each other better, and are more willing to take the time and effort and indeed use the skills necessary to bring a woman to orgasm? (More than men, that is.)
Lesbian sex averages 30 to 45 minutes, while straight women and straight men have sex which lasts for an average 15 to 30 minutes. This clearly indicates that when men are involved, sex tends to be more focused on men's requirements and needs and expectations and wishes than women's.
Physiology and Social Pressure Play A Part in Orgasm Too
What's going on at the level of the brain might provide a clue here. Scans of the brain do show differences in men and women during sexual arousal, but during sex itself, the brain activity in men and women is pretty much similar.
Indeed there are other aspects of sex which are similar, including the fact that both men and women become drowsy after having an orgasm, because oxytocin surges around the body. An the truth is that orasms in women and men are actually quite similar both physiologically and psychologically.
When a whole series of statements made by people describing their
orgasms were presented to both men and women, the majority of people found
it impossible to decide which comments had been made by men and which
comments had been made by women.
Men describe orgasm is beginning with the sensation of the warmth or pressure, the moment of ejaculatory inevitability, followed by sharp intensely pleasurable contractions involving muscles of the pelvis.
The similarity of descriptions clearly indicates that the physiology of orgasm is very similar in the two genders – but women often have the capacity to have multiple orgasms and men do not.
In other words, women can maintain their arousal at or above the plateau level, without dropping below this level of excitement, and from this high level of sexual arousal they can easily have more orgasms; but when men ejaculate, their arousal almost immediately drops below the level of the plateau, and this renders them in capable of further ejaculation and orgasm.
For women, the multi-orgasmic capacity they display depends on both continued stimulation and of course being interested in having more orgasms – if either of these is absent, then a woman won't manage to have more orgasms in one sexual encounter.
It's been said that the refractory phrase which occurs in men, the period of time during which further orgasm ejaculation is impossible, is the critical factor in preventing men from having multiple orgasms.
This is not true, because men can in fact have an orgasm without ejaculation, and when they learn how to do this, they can actually have multiple orgasms too.
Why would both men and women have similar orgasmic experience?
The answer seems to be that physiology is basically the same – the neurological pathways for orgasm are similar in men and women, and indeed, as you may already know, the differential sexual development of the male and female fetus only occurs after the first 12 weeks of life.
We are, therefore, quite similar biologically, so perhaps there is some biological reason which involved in our ancestors which means that having similar orgasmic function is beneficial in some way. Or maybe it just is the fact that we have the same neurological pathways.
Social Pressure Makes A Difference To Orgasm Frequency
We need probably to look at social pressures to explain why there is an orgasm gap between the sexes.
The simplest explanation, of course, is that social pressures favour men's pleasure over women's.
To suggest that women are having fewer orgasms than men because somehow their bodies aren't as good at reaching orgasm is men's is an insult to their sexuality, particularly since we've already established that the neurological pathways for orgasm are the same in both men and women.
And while hormonal differences – the lower level of testosterone in women – might be responsible for the lower sex drive and the difficulty that some women have in reaching orgasm, regrettably it's also true that the difficulty women have reaching orgasm could well be more about social pressure and social beliefs than anything else: we tell ourselves that women's bodies are simply more difficult to operate, that it's harder for women to reach orgasm.
And in some cases we might even justify our failure to pleasure
women during intercourse by suggesting that actually women are less
interested in orgasms than men.
For example, it turns out that women who sleep with women, as we've already observed, have far more orgasms than heterosexual women. Furthermore, women have no problem experiencing orgasm through masturbation, and they take the same time to reach orgasm as men do during masturbation – around four minutes on average.
So if social pressures were responsible for orgasm differences, what
might these social pressures be?
The kind of activities that produce orgasms for women tend to be
masturbation and oral sex, which are generally regarded by men as part of
foreplay so are briefly tolerated on the way to the "real sex" (which
One survey demonstrated that men have three times as many orgasms as women in first-time dates, then 2.5 times as many in second and third dates, twice as many in fourth and further dates...
.... and even in relationships, men have 1.25 times as many orgasms as women do.
You could argue, I suppose, that this difference might well be down to the fact that women need to be able to trust their partner completely before they can let go into orgasm – and that it isn't a social pressure, but a biological or psychological pressure which means that women are more cautious about opening up and fully giving themselves to men, than men are in engaging in sex with women.
In other words, that when women love a man they find it easier to reach orgasm, than when they do not.
However you would be mistaken to draw that conclusion, because it turns out that when sexual activity in casual hookups involves more than one type of sexual activity, for example intercourse as well as oral pleasure and masturbation, the women's rate of orgasm becomes almost exactly the same as men's. Amazing.
The implication, the quite unmistakable implication, is that men are not motivated to give women orgasms, but they are motivated to have sex to experience their own orgasm. Of course it could also be that sexually naive men simply do not know how to satisfy a woman in bed (or out of it, no doubt).
And indeed, in the study conducted on college students, it seems to be a "given" among many teenagers, and men and women in early adulthood, that women cannot expect to have sexual pleasure - i.e. orgasms - during a casual date or hook up as a "right".
Sure, older women in relationships tend to feel very much more entitled
to orgasm, and very much more certain that their partners are really
interested in giving them pleasure in bed - hopefully with some
Female Sexuality, Orgasm and Sex
The detailed process by which women reach orgasm has been studied many times but still remains a bit obscure.
About 20 percent of the women in our survey indicated that the usual arousal sequence is for the man first to stimulate the clitoris manually or orally, which may or may not produce orgasm, and then to insert his penis to produce further stimulation, which nearly always brings him to orgasm and ejaculation, and sometimes results in both partners achieving orgasm.
About 95 percent of women said they attain orgasm either before or after their husbands and primarily through manual or oral clitoral stimulation.
When very specific questions were asked about the timing of wife and husband orgasm, it was found that 5 percent of the women reach orgasm at the same time as their spouses, with 70 percent attaining orgasm before and 25 percent coming after their husbands have ejaculated.
The women in the various samples indicated that clitoral stimulation is highly important to them in reaching orgasm. Over 75 percent ascribed either great or indispensable value to clitoral arousal.
Further, it is clear that clitoral and vaginal stimulation are perceived quite differently by most of the women, who typically regard one of the two as relatively more exciting; or they experience one rather than the other as possessing some special quality (e.g. warmth, "deep feeling," throbbing).
Although it may be true that vaginal stimulation achieves much of its effect by its indirect arousal of the clitoris, one can still say that the experienced quality of the vaginal and clitoral experiences differs. They do not feel alike.
Whether this is caused by differences in the angle of penetration and type of touch involved or by differences arising out of the psychological implications of being penetrated or not being penetrated (or holding an organ of another person within oneself versus not doing so) is unclear.
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