A new study by researchers from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University investigates how orgasm occurrence varies by gender and sexual orientation, and finds that single women are less likely to experience an orgasm than single men. But lesbian women are more likely to orgasm during sex than bisexual or heterosexual women.
The research team, including co-author Justin R. Garcia, recently published their findings in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
According to the researchers, an orgasm is characterized by “subjective feelings of intense sensation and pleasure, including a sudden discharge of accumulated erotic tension at sexual climax and a temporarily altered state of consciousness.”
Although past studies have led to a better understanding of the mechanisms that trigger an orgasm, the team notes that it is unclear as to whether an individual’s sexual orientation influences orgasm occurrence.
“Understanding the factors that inﬂuence variation in orgasm occurrence among sexual minority populations may assist in tailoring behavioral therapies for those of different sexual orientations,” say the researchers.
“Moreover, to the extent that lack of orgasm is seen as a common and unwanted problem, learning more about orgasm in same-sex relationships may inform treatment for men and women in both same-sex and mixed-sex relationships.”
From an online questionnaire, Garcia and colleagues obtained data of 6,151 single men and women aged 21 and over. Participants disclosed their gender, sexual orientation (heterosexual, gay/lesbian, bisexual) and the percentage of time they spent having an orgasm when with a familiar sexual partner.
For their final analysis, they included the data of 1,497 men and 1,353 women who had engaged in sexual activity in the past 12 months.
Results of the study revealed that when with a familiar sexual partner, men experienced orgasm 85% of the time, while women only experienced orgasm 63% of the time.
The team also found that the likelihood of having an orgasm varied by sexual orientation. Lesbian women had the highest chance of experiencing an orgasm at 75%, while heterosexual women and bisexual women had a 62% and 58% chance of an orgasm, respectively.
The team explains that this particular finding may be because lesbian women are more “comfortable and familiar” with the female body, therefore they are better at inducing orgasm in their female partners. Likelihood of an orgasm did not vary between men of different sexual orientations.
Furthermore, the researchers found that compared with men, women had less predictable and more varied orgasms, despite their sexual orientation.
“This is consistent with literature suggesting that male orgasm is subject to less inconsistency, seemingly regardless of sexual orientation, perhaps due to both sex-speciﬁc physiology and culturally reinforced gender roles that endorse male sexual activity and pleasure,” say the study authors.
Commenting on their overall findings, the researchers say:
“These data demonstrate the need for further investigations into the comparative sexual experiences and outcomes of sexual minorities, to understand the mechanisms by which sociodemographics, and, in particular, sexual orientation, affects sexual health outcomes including orgasm experiences.”
The team notes that their study is subject to limitations. For example, they point out that they did not look at orgasm occurrence among individuals who had sex with an unfamiliar partner and note that this is something they plan to investigate in future research.
In addition, they note that they did not know the gender of the participants’ partners. This is particularly important when it comes to bisexual individuals, as they were not able to determine whether the gender of their partner influenced the occurrence of orgasms.
Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that pain reduces the sex drive of women but not men.