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The Pleasure gap, AKA the Orgasm Gap is a term coined in the early 2000s, to describe the difference in frequency of orgasms achieved during sex between cis-men and cis-women (although some of the first studies suggesting a gap were done in the 1990s).

Spoiler alert; there’s a big difference between people’s experiences, depending on their gender & sexuality.

Head to any porn site, and it’s often the same old story… a woman writhing around in pleasure seconds after being penetrated by her partner, and she’s almost certainly cumming first. We’ve seen it a million times, but yet when we ask our friends this isn’t reflective of our own sexual experiences at all.

But why do women orgasm less than men? Let’s take a look at the underlying factors and look for solutions that can promote pleasure equality for all.


Ok, Hit me with the pleasure gap stats.

95% of heterosexual men reported usually or always orgasming when sexually intimate. While 86% of lesbian women and only 65% of heterosexual women said the same.

Further data shows that cis-men are more than twice as likely as cis-women to orgasm every time they get to it with a partner, and recent Durex research (February 2023) shows women from all over the world are climaxing less frequently and having 4 times fewer orgasms than men.

Historically the pleasure gap has been put down to women’s bodies being too ‘difficult’.

Research tells us that 95% of women reach orgasm easily when pleasuring themselves, and often within minutes. This steers the conversation to a cultural rather than a biological issue.

There are further pleasure gaps found between heterosexual and queer women. Women who have sex with other women report more frequent orgasms, with Lesbians reportedly reached orgasm 86% of the time – a rate similar to their male counterparts (straight men 95%, gay men 89%, bisexual men 88%).

When looking into the sexual experiences of bisexual women during first-time hook ups, the gender of their sexual partner played into how likely they were to reach climax. When partnered with a woman, they reported hitting the big O 65% of the time… but when the first time hook up was with a man, it was only 7% of the time. Yep, you read that right.

At present, there is little research on how the pleasure Gap affects trans people. This lack of data means we still don't have a comprehensive understanding of how the pleasure Gap impacts all women. Gathering this information could go a long way in debunking the myth that biology alone is responsible for the disparity in women's pleasure. This is yet another example of how cisnormativity can hold us all back.

Side Note: there is also a huge lack of research around how the orgasm gap affects women by race. But fear not friends… we’re here to help increase those odds for everyone!


What causes the pleasure gap?

We can all probably agree that we are living in the most liberated era (to date) for women. Sex & intimacy continue to be normalised through the female gaze, and we have taken huge steps forward in becoming a sex-positive and sex-educated society.

Whilst the progress is apparent, historically, society has prioritised male pleasure and orgasm, and it's crucial to acknowledge the complex interplay of psychological, physiological, and social factors that contribute to the pleasure gap.

Biologically, women typically have a shorter refractory period, allowing them to have multiple orgasms in quick succession. On the other hand, vulva owners often require more time and specific stimulation to reach climax.

Additionally, societal expectations and gender norms can play a role in perpetuating the pleasure gap. Traditional gender roles often emphasise male pleasure and prioritise penetrative sex as the focus of sexual encounters (with other sex acts often not even considered). This narrow & dated definition of sex can leave little room for exploring alternative forms of stimulation or prioritising female pleasure. After all, research shows only 18% of people with vaginas can orgasm from penetration alone.

We’ve been told a lot of myths around female pleasure, and all of them make the orgasm gap worse.

Historically, while women of colour, particularly black women, were portrayed as being sexually aggressive, white women were pathologised as “hysterical” for expressing what was considered “excessive” sexuality. We still see this today in both slut shaming and the fetishisation of (and increased rates of sexual violence against) women of colour.

Even the language we use contributes to the pleasure gap - with sex & intercourse frequently interchanged as if they are the same thing. Dr Laurie Mintz, a sexuality psychologist and author of Becoming Cliterate: Why orgasm equality matters – and how to get it to, said it perfectly; “I often say if women's pleasure were the number one priority, we would call foreplay sex and intercourse post-play. But even our language reflects and perpetuates this devaluing of women's pleasure. Foreplay is just an act leading up to the main event.”

Mintz also highlights the language issue when referring to our own bodies. She points out “up until recently, the vast majority of people referred to the entire genital area as the ‘vagina’ (and many still do). In actuality, the vagina is the internal part of genitals whereas the vulva - the outer part of the genitals (including the labia majora and minora and the most sensitive part of the clitoris) is linguistically erased, despite it being key for most women’s pleasure.”


“We're calling our entire genitals by the part that's more sexually useful to men rather than to ourselves. So yes, underneath all this is sexism, patriarchy, the devaluing of female pleasure,” says Mintz.


So, how do we close the pleasure gap?

Unfortunately, the Pleasure Gap can’t be fixed by just throwing vibrators at the problem  - although we actively advocate throwing vibrators at most problems.

Addressing the Orgasm Gap starts long before we’ve made it into the bedroom. Progress is being made in challenging these norms and dismantling the barriers that hinder sexual satisfaction for all genders. Here are a few further tips & tricks…


Active consent, always & above everything else.

Active consent is a vital aspect of healthy and respectful sexual encounters. It goes beyond mere verbal consent and emphasises ongoing communication and enthusiastic participation from all parties involved. Active consent ensures that everyone’s boundaries, desires, and comfort levels are respected and honoured throughout the entire sexual experience. It promotes a culture of mutual respect, trust, and empowerment, where everyone feels safe and heard. By actively seeking and giving consent, we foster a positive and consensual sexual environment that nurtures both physical and emotional well-being. Remember, consent is an ongoing process, and obtaining clear and enthusiastic consent from all involved is essential for promoting healthy and satisfying sexual relationships.


Communication should always take priority.

Communication is a crucial component in closing the pleasure gap. By engaging in open, honest conversations with our partners about desires, boundaries, and preferences, we can create an environment that prioritises mutual pleasure and exploration.


Don’t shame yourself for your desires.

Unlearning shame surrounding sex doesn’t need to be done completely alone. If you’re getting intimate with a partner you trust, ask them about their fantasies and tell them yours. Engaging in new positions, role play, or kinks with your partner can help you feel more comfortable talking about and celebrating that part of you that you’ve kept hidden. As long as each act is enthusiastic, consensual, and safe, there is a world of pleasure to be explored on our own, and with partners.

Another good option is to speak with an expert. A lot of sexual shame can stem from traumas stored in both the body and the mind, and learning how to overcome those traumas is key to letting go of feelings of shame.

By reframing female pleasure to be just as natural and vital as male pleasure we can encourage ourselves to prioritise what we want in the bedroom.


Masturbation unlocks self-knowledge.

Get to know what you love, your turn-ons (& your turn-offs) & start to take responsibility for your pleasure. 95% of people reliably experience orgasm during masturbation, making it the perfect way to learn about yourself, and what you like. Solo sex can increase libido and desire and enhance the orgasm likelihood during partnered sex.

Pro vulva tip: the clitoris is the star of the show!


Don’t fake orgasms.

Women can also feel under pressure to pretend they’re having more fun than they really are. In a 2019 study, 60% of women asked admitted to faking an orgasm. Instead, try communicating with your partner about your likes & dislikes. You can start small with “that feels good” or “I like it when…”.


Introduce some toys

Invest in some great toys for use alone or with a partner. Play & experiment to find out what you love - Great products can enhance your sexual pleasure and improve your communication with a partner.


And finally… relax & destress

Try to leave behind the stresses of your day & stay present in the moment. Take deep breaths and focus on your 5 senses – your body will relax and follow suit. Now… enjoy 😊


We’re on a mission to close the pleasure gap, and create equal pleasure opportunities for all.

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