The orgasm gap: 61% of men, but only 30% of women, say they orgasm every time they have sex

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
Eir NolsoeData Journalist
February 10, 2022, 9:27 AM GMT+0

Clitoral stimulation seems to be the key to closing the orgasm gap

Inequality between the sexes does not just exist in the workplace, on the street and on our screens; it also happens in the bedroom. For decades it has been observed that there is an “orgasm gap”, whereby men are much more likely to always climax during intercourse with women than the women are.

Now new YouGov data adds to this body of research, with the results showing that men are twice as likely to say they always orgasm during sex than women. YouGov conducted two surveys on the subject: one nationally representative poll (from which our sample of straight Britons is derived) and another poll representative of Britons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or other sexualities.

Mind the orgasm gap

Overall three in ten British women (30%) say they orgasm every time they have sex, including 11% who get off multiple times a session.

While another one in four women (27%) say they orgasm on most occasions, this leaves a third who say the fireworks only happen sometimes (15%), rarely (10%) or not at all (7%).

By contrast, three in five British men overall (61%) say they reach climax every time they have sex, with another 23% saying they do so on most occasions. Just 10% say they do so sometimes, rarely or never.

Comparing data across the two surveys by sexuality shows that straight women are the least likely to always orgasm during sex, at 30%. They are closely followed by bisexual women at 32%, with lesbian women being notably more likely to report always orgasming at 40% (the majority of bisexual men and women tend to have sexual partners of a different gender to themselves, which likely explains why bisexual women’s results more closely match those of straight women than lesbians).

Straight men are by far the most likely to reach the summit during sex, with 63% saying they always orgasm. This drops slightly to 56% of gay men and 54% of bisexual men.

Those with female sexual partners seem to be overestimating how often they bring their partners to climax

The data also reveals that some straight men seem oblivious to their partner’s lack of ultimate pleasure – or are disinterested. Fewer than half of straight men (42%) insist their partner usually climaxes every time, including a fifth (22%) who claim to witness multiple home runs. Yet even this appears to be an overestimate: only 30% of straight women say they reach climax every time, including just 11% say they receive multiple orgasms.

By contrast, straight women are under no illusions about what’s going on with their partner. Two thirds (67%) say the man they’re sleeping with orgasms every time, a figure which closely matches the 63% of straight men who report getting off every time they have sex.

Among bisexual Britons we see the same trends as we do among straight people; men being more likely to say they orgasm than think their partner does, and the opposite among women.

Gay men seem to be far more in tune with ther partners than straight men, with the 56% of gay men who say they themselves orgasm every time they have sex coming close to the 63% who say their partner always does.

Lesbian women, however, are more likely to think they partner is having a better time than themselves: 53% say that their partner always orgasms, but only 40% report doing so themselves.

Ultimately, it is perhaps unsurprising that those groups with male sex partners are more closely able to assess how frequently they climax, given how much more obvious it can be that a man has orgasmed.

What are women who orgasm every time getting that those who don’t always climax aren’t?

Clear differences emerge between the sex lives of women who orgasm every time they have sex and those who don’t.

Looking at straight women, while 38% of those who orgasm at least once every time they have sex say that clitoral stimulation is always a feature of their sexual encounters, just 18% of those who don’t always orgasm say the same.

Although both groups are more likely to say that vaginal penetration happens every time they have sex, there is little difference between them (50% and 48% respectively). Indeed, among bisexual women, those who orgasm every time are less likely to say vaginal penetration is a constant feature of their sex lives (this discrepancy seems to be a result of the difference between bisexual women with male sexual partners and those with female sexual partners – if we account for this difference then the figures also equalise, to 40% of bisexual women who orgasm every time and 43% of those who don’t).

Many women can’t orgasm from penetration alone because of their anatomy, so the fact that vaginal penetration occurs more frequently than clitoral stimulation among straight women who always orgasm is likely more down to the fact that vaginal penetration is the core component of straight intercourse than that it is specifically responsible for whether or not a woman orgasms.

Indeed, looking at the results among lesbian women we see the same thing: very little difference in orgasm frequency among those who receive vaginal penetration (16-18%), but far more likelihood of orgasming every time among those who always indulge in clitoral stimulation (58%) than those who don’t (35%).

Lesbian women who orgasm every time they have sex are also more likely to say they always receive oral sex (27%) than those who don’t orgasm every time (8%).

Why do lesbian and bisexual women orgasm more often than straight women?

The clue to these differences is likely in what type of sex acts people include in their routine. Almost two thirds of lesbian women (65%), and 62% of bisexual women, say they receive clitoral stimulation every or most times they have sex. In contrast, this only applies to half of straight women.

Likewise, lesbian and bisexual women are much more likely to receive oral sex (37% and 35% respectively) every or most times they have intercourse, compared to 20% of straight women.

Meanwhile, close to three quarters of straight women (72%) and bisexual women (75%) say they are on the receiving end of vaginal penetration every or most times they have sex, compared with one in three lesbian women (36%).

As well as overestimating their partners’ pleasure, straight men also seem to be overclaiming on their sexual variety. Two thirds (67%) say they always or mostly include clitoral stimulation when having sex with their partner (seventeen points higher than the number of straight women who say that this occurs), and 33% saying the same of giving oral sex (13pts higher than straight women say is the case).

Such discrepancies among gay men and lesbian women are smaller, where they exist at all.

The survey also puts lie to a potential misconception some may have about sex among gay men; that anal sex is a constant feature. In fact, only 23-24% of gay men say they give or receive anal sex most or all of the times they have sex.

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