Despite having the only organ in the human body whose sole function is pleasure, people with clitorises can find it notoriously difficult to have an orgasm. Consistently giving someone with a clitoris an earth-shaking orgasm is a mystery that ranks among the Bermuda Triangle, Scotland’s beloved Nessie, and the quandary of missing socks. Many people pretend to be experts, but in truth, only a selected few crack the code.
However, sex researchers have been asking some smart questions, and with their help, we’re lifting the veil and revealing practical tips for orgasmic success (and for people with penises too—they tend to have an easier time of it, but that’s not true for everyone).
Depending on the study, the numbers vary, but about 95 percent of heterosexual men have an orgasm during sex. But straight ladies? It ranges between 50 and 70 percent, more often on the lower end.
Unexpected Benefits of Orgasm
Orgasms offer a host of benefits beyond the rosy glow and bounty of passion—there are perks aplenty for everyone to enjoy. Here are a few of the bonus rewards orgasms bring into your life.
So, why are men soaking up all the satisfaction?
Barriers to Orgasm
Science has been trying to answer this question for a long time.
Part of the issue is the different types of orgasm, for women (and other people with clits) in particular. Some women reach orgasm easier through clitoral stimulation, while others prefer vaginal sex. And some women can only achieve orgasm if they have both.
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Many people have psychological or physical barriers, especially if they’ve experienced sexual trauma
or uncomfortable complications
, and some people simply get stuck in their head, ruminating on insecurities or fears.
But most of these obstacles can be overcome—thanks, #science!
Keys to Unlocking the Secret
Plenty of studies are being done with the objective of offering tangible advice to help folks achieve a better sex life.
Turns out, most women prefer a gentle touch to firm pressure on their clitoris (… which most women could have already told you), and almost half of the women in the study said there’s one specific touch that sends them to orgasm. So just ask! (We’re not leaving you hanging, but you also need to do some of the work yourself.)
The Golden Trio
An innovative study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior
offers a little more clarity into our most burning question: What leads to orgasm?
Using data from a diverse group of almost 53,000 people, researchers sought to discover who orgasms—and why. This study reports on people who identify as straight, gay, and bisexual, but didn’t get into issues of trans and gender non-conforming individuals.
They uncovered three significant factors that are most likely to result in orgasm. This “golden trio” can help ensure your partner is never disappointed:
This one is for the ladies: Women who receive more oral during sex are much more likely to reach orgasm. They won’t necessarily get there through oral sex alone, though: The key to orgasm is to incorporate oral with a variety of other sexual techniques. As is so often the case, variety is the spice of life (and sexual satisfaction).
Both men and women say they’re more likely to orgasm if sex lasts more than 15 minutes. Women are even more likely to orgasm if the sex is longer than 30 minutes (or an hour). Quickies have their place, but reaching orgasm might not be the best primary goal—especially if you plan on including oral. Proper foreplay just takes time.
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Women who are happy in their relationship are more likely to orgasm (a novel idea, no doubt), and relationship satisfaction is one of the highest predictors of orgasm for women. This is a tricky one, though. It’s unclear which came first—does a happy relationship promote a healthy sex life, or does a great sex life contribute to relationship satisfaction?
These are the main findings from the study, but the researchers also stumbled on a few other things that lead to orgasm.
Women who frequently orgasm do more of these things.
A whopping 80 of women orgasm as a result of this magical combination.
Men who have more orgasms tend to do these things.
Practical Tips You Can Learn From Science
How does this help you make sure your partner orgasms every time?
Next time you’re getting lucky, take your time and mix things up. Go down on your partner (and stay down there)! Try something new, bring back the eroticism of kissing, and ask your partner what they want.
Men don’t struggle as much with orgasms, but some do. If you’re having trouble getting a guy off, take your time. Offer him a back rub. Make sure you’re setting time aside for romance, so he knows it’s not a chore. Provide an environment where he can ask for what he wants and explore fantasies.
Most importantly, work on your relationship
. You’re both more likely to orgasm if you’re happy. One great way to make sure that happens is to communicate—you can build a healthy habit in your relationship as well as your sex life. Communication is an essential tool in the success of orgasm, and if your partner knows what touch sends them into rapture, you’ll find out much faster by asking
. If your partner is unhappy, you’ll achieve more through a supportive dialogue.
Nicole was trained as a sex and relationship researcher, but as a writer, she works to bridge the gap between academia and the masses by making science enjoyable. When she’s not writing, she’s climbing mountains and photographing her adventures. You can find her at nicolematkins.com.