No doubt at least one of your Facebook friends has by now shared at least one of those articles about how lesbians have more orgasms than straight women and how oral sex has a lot do do with it.
If you’re a straight woman — or a bi/pansexual woman who has sex mostly with cisgender men — you might be curious about exactly what’s so different about lesbian sex. And if you’re a straight man, you might be wondering what you can learn from your Sapphic siblings.
Here are 4 of the big take-aways from the studies on lesbians, straight women, and orgasm.
Before we (muff?) dive in, however, it’s important to note that, like all research, the research studies on lesbians and orgasms has some limitations to consider. It’s important to note that these studies only tend to consider cisgender people (people whose gender is in alignment with the sex they were assigned at birth). That means we don’t know much about the experiences of trans women, trans men, nonbinary, and intersex people.
Some of these studies also implicitly erase the experience of bisexual women who are in relationships with other women — these relationships and people are often coded as “lesbian” which skews the data a bit. Finally, the data are based on recall of past sexual encounters, which can be unreliable. Within those limitations, however, there are some things that can be beneficial for anyone who has a vulva — or who has sex with someone who does — to take away from this research.
So…do lesbians do it better? The research seems to indicate that this is so, if we define “doing it better” as “having sex where there are more orgasms.” The current research indicates that lesbians report having orgasms 85% of the time they have sex — compared with less than 62% for straight women. (One study indicated that about for bisexual women, orgasm occurs 75% of the time. The study did not break down how many of those encounters were with women and how many were with men.) So what’s causing this orgasm gap, and how can we begin to close it?
4 reasons why lesbians may have more orgasms than anyone else
- Lesbians have sex for longer. While the research indicates that lesbian couples may have sex less frequently than straight couples, they report that their sexual encounters last longer than their heterosexual counterparts. On average, lesbian couples report that sexual encounters last between 30-45 minutes, while straight couples average more like 10-15 minutes. This extra time translates to extra foreplay and slowing down a bit, which can lead to more orgasms.
- Lesbians have oral sex. A lot. Lesbians also report having oral sex in most sexual encounters. Heterosexual couples are less likely to report having cunnilingus — oral sex performed on a person with a vulva — even though there are clear correlations between frequency of orgasm and receiving cunnilingus. (Most women don’t orgasm through penetration alone.)
- Lesbian couples expect both partners to orgasm. Never underestimate the power of sexpectations! In lesbian sexual encounters, there is typically an expectation of mutual pleasure — both partners expect to orgasm, and that spirit permeates the encounter. There’s an expectation in heterosexual encounters that the man will orgasm, but women often don’t expect to — partially because of cultural narratives around orgasm, and partially because of sexist attitudes about the primacy of male pleasure. An attitude shift to one where sex isn’t “finished” until everyone is satisfied can increase the chances of women orgasming during sex with men.
- Penetration isn’t the “main event.” Most women — and people with clitorises and vulvas more broadly — don’t orgasm from penetration alone. This is largely due to anatomical configuration — penetration just doesn’t stimulate the places that will cause orgasm all that well. While lesbians may use penetration during sex, it’s seldom the main event like it is in heterosexual sex. Penetration is typically an adjunct to other forms of stimulation that do bring about orgasm — oral sex, direct clitoral stimulation with fingers or toys, you name it. And these aren’t just a lead up to penetration — they can happen after penetration too. Rethinking the script of all those other things just “leading up to” penis-in-vagina sex (and that being the final act) can help ensure more orgasms for women.
We also tend to know a little more about how things look and work “down there”. Want to know more? Check out The Cunnilinguist!