O my goodness, and this O stands for orgasm. This week on my podcast Sex, Body, and Soul, I talked to Dr. Laurie Mintz, the world’s leading researcher on the orgasm gap and author of two currently sold-out books, Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters – and How to Get It and A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex. If you haven’t heard of the orgasm gap, chances are you have experienced it and wondered how to overcome it - I know I have! The orgasm gap refers to the fact that in sexual encounters between a (cisgender) man and a (cisgender) woman, women “always” or “usually” experience orgasm less than 40% of the time, while men orgasm more than 90% of the time – almost a 1:3 ratio. This bothers me not just because orgasms feel great and are actually good for your health, but because the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of female pleasure is steeped into the very fabric of our culture.
The Body Agency is working to change this. Sure, it’s easier to identify male pleasure because the sex organs are external and arousal is clearly visible. But women are just as capable of experiencing sexual pleasure (sorry Dr. Freud) in the right hands, so to speak. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: the clitoris is the only organ in the human body – male or female - that exists only for pleasure. Most women (almost 90%!) need additional (often clitoral) stimulation to climax: only about 15% of women can achieve orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. If you can’t, there is nothing wrong with you! Much of the fault lies with the media’s portrayal of fast and fabulous female orgasms from a few seconds of thrusting (without foreplay or lube).
For the vast majority of us who need and want to enjoy more orgasm equity, Dr. Mintz has some excellent recommendations. I’m not going to spoil it by spilling all the beans here, but she swears the key is to put your mind and body in the same place through mindfulness. You can actually teach yourself to notice when your mind wanders and bring it back to your sensations. And for women who still can’t turn off the thoughts and tasks churning through their brains, fantasy can be a useful tool.
Interestingly, women are more likely to experience orgasms in relationship sex, rather than hookups. It’s not because men don’t care about their partners’ pleasure, but in large part because they have been failed by our nation’s woefully inadequate sex education “system” (non-existent in many states) and our unofficial backup – porn. It’s true! Many boys and men turn to porn not just for stimulation but to “learn” what women like. This is a recipe for disaster. While there are different types of porn, much of it is degrading to women and virtually none contains an accurate portrayal of female pleasure. Don’t get me wrong – Dr. Mintz and I agree there is a role for porn in our society, but educating boys and men about how to pleasure a woman is not one of them.
I’m all about finding solutions to real problems, and Dr. Mintz has some great suggestions for how to address this. She calls for age appropriate body education in schools, starting in kindergarten by naming all body parts properly and without shame, growing into issues such as consent, porn literacy, and contraception in high school. It wouldn’t hurt for parents to have some catch-up education too!
It’s time to get real. Real stimulation, real lubrication, real orgasms. If you’ve ever faked it because it didn’t feel good or you weren’t into it, there are many options, depending on what is holding you back. I'd recommend trying The Body Agency’s Sexual Wellness Kit, which includes a personal massager and organic lubricant formulated to nourish your most intimate parts.
Join me and Dr. Mintz in our shared mission to help girls and women overcome thousands of years of history erasing women’s pleasure. Listen here to learn how you can bridge the orgasm gap. It’s our gift to you!