Study assesses experiences related to female orgasm

A new study, published this week in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, assessed experiences related to orgasm, sexual pleasure and genital touching in women.

For this study Debby Herbenick, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and her team looked at data from 1,055 women ages 18 to 94 years. The women were enrolled in the study in June 2015 and were part of the nationally representative GfK KnowledgePanel®. The study sample was representative of women of all ages, races, ethnicities and social and educational backgrounds in United States.

These participants were all given a completely confidential online questionnaire to fill in about their sex lives. Herbenick explained that the idea was to understand the “kinds of touch” women find pleasurable and see how orgasm is associated with appropriate vaginal and clitoral stimulation. Results revealed that intercourse alone was not enough for women to reach an orgasm.

Results revealed that around 18 percent of can reach their orgasm during vaginal intercourse alone. Over one third of women – 36 percent – reported that they preferred clitoral stimulation to reach their peak. Another 36 percent women said the clitoral stimulation served to enhance their experience of vaginal intercourse. Despite this many women fake an orgasm during penetrative intercourse.

The study further showed that some orgasms feel better than others for most women (78 percent). These better orgasms are not the ones that last longer state the participants of this study. Less than 20 percent women surveyed said longer sex meant better orgasms. Herbenick said that better orgasms are reported in cases when more time is spent on foreplay or arousal. “Emotional intimacy” and “clitoral stimulation” seem to be the key words she said. How stressed the women is and how her mood is determines how mindfully she can “immerse” into the intercourse explain researchers and that determines the better orgasmic quality.

Two thirds of the women reported that up and down motions over their clitoris gave them pleasure while a little over half, 52 percent liked circular movements. One third of all women enjoyed side to side movements on their clitoris. Around 11 percent liked firm pressure on their vulva while most other liked a light pressure.

“Outercourse” is a term used to refer to sex that does not involve penetration. This involves touching, kissing, massages and use of sex toys etc. According to experts all of this can be termed as part of the intercourse rather than terming them foreplay. Herbenick suggested that couples could learn from their own early days in the relationship. During that time they spend a lot more time touching and kissing before they begin on oral sex and penetrative sex. Soon as sex becomes routine for the couple, the initial touching is reduced to minimum and penetrative sex remains the only part of sex. This is detrimental to the quality of orgasms in the women partners she explained.

The study revealed that 41 percent of the surveyed women preferred one type of touch to reach their orgasms. Herbenick said that this shows how important it is for partners to know what their women want. This can only come through communication. Couples should talk about what the woman likes, what they enjoy and what can contribute to a great orgasm. Unless they talk about this they may not be reaching their potential she explained, as chances of “stumbling” upon what she would like are slim.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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