For some, having an orgasm is relatively easy and straightforward. While for many others, orgasms can feel elusive and mysterious.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, sex researchers are continuing to uncover more information about orgasms in hopes of helping us have better and more satisfying sex lives.
In no particular order, here are five of the most fascinating facts we learned about orgasms from sex research this year:
After viewing and coding the 50 most popular (i.e., most viewed) PornHub videos of all time, researchers coded the rates that men and women were depicted as having orgasms (based on both verbal and bodily indicators). Based on the analysis only 18.3 percent of the women were determined to have reached orgasm in the selected videos whereas a whopping 78 percent of men were depicted as having orgasms.1 The authors suggest this could have significant implications for how men and women internalize sexual scripts of male and female sexual pleasure.
2. Orgasms Can Induce Some Unusual, Involuntary Behaviors
Orgasms aren't always full of pleasurable moans and groans. There are plenty of strange phenomena that have been documented to occur during orgasm. Specifically, in a case study review, researchers found documentation of individuals crying, sneezing, having seizures, laughing, and having panic attacks and headaches while experiencing an orgasm. The reasons for these unusual experiences are not currently known and are continuing to be investigated.2
3. The Likelihood of Having an Orgasm is Related to Your Gender and Sexual Orientation
In a large study of over 52,000 adults in the United States, researchers asked men and women how likely they were to orgasm when they were sexually intimate. The results show that 95 percent of heterosexual men said they “usually always orgasm" when being sexually intimate, followed by 89 percent of gay men and 88 percent of bisexual men. This was followed by 86 percent of lesbian women reporting usually-always orgasming and the lowest frequencies of orgasm were reported by bisexual women (66 percent) and heterosexual women (65 percent).3
4. Women May Care More Than Men About Whether Their Partner Orgasms
Despite some views that men have performance driven motivations for sex (i.e., they want to provide sexual pleasure to their female partner and/or bring her to orgasm), recent research found that women have a higher motivation to ensure their male partner had an orgasm. The same study also found that having an anxious attachment (feeling worried and unsure that our partner loves us and will stay with us) was associated with greater interest in partner orgasm.4
5. Louder For the Folks in the Cheap Seats: Women Want Clitoral Stimulation!
Yet more research came out in support of women needing (and/or preferring) clitoral stimulation during intercourse to reach orgasm. In a study of over 1,000 American women between the ages of 18-94, only 18.4 percent of participants indicated that intercourse was almost always sufficient for orgasm while 36.6 percent reported clitoral stimulation was “necessary” for orgasm during intercourse and the remaining 36 percent of participants indicated that clitoral stimulation simply made the female orgasm feel better.5
1. Seguin L., Rodrigue, C. & Lavigne, J. (2017). Consuming ecstasy: Representations of male and female orgasm in mainstream pornography. Journal of Sex Roles, 55, 3, 348-356. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1332152
2. Reinert, A. E. & Simon, J. A. (2017). “Did you climax or are you just laughing at me?” Rare phenomena associated with orgasm. Sexual Medicine Reviews, 5, 3, 275-281. doi.org/10.1016/j.sxmr.2017.03.004
3. Fredrick, D. A, St. John, K. H., Garcia, J. R. & Lloyed, E. A. (2017). Differences in orgasm frequency among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual men and women in a U.S. national sample. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 1, 273-288.
4. Barnett, M. D. Moore, J. M., Woolford, B. A. & Riggs, S. A. (2018). Interest in partner orgasm: Sex differences and relationships with attachment strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 124, 1, 194-200. doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.12.015
5. Herbenick, D. Fu, J. T-C., Arter, J., Sanders, S. A. & Dodge, B. (2017). Women’s experiences with genital touching, sexual pleasure, and orgasm: Results from a U.S. probability sample of women ages 18-94. Journal of Sex & Mairtal Tehrapy, 44, 2, 201-212.