Orgasm gap: Why do we need to talk about it?

Published on: 17 April 2022, 23:30 pm IST

Have you had an equal or more number of orgasms than your partner? Chances are your answer is NO! That's just what an orgasm gap is about!

orgasm gap
Women's sexual pleasure deserves attention too! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While surfing Netflix’s latest offerings, I chanced upon a rather intriguing thumbnail: a layered rose (yes, somewhat like the one right above), a historical and oft-used pop cultural symbolism for the female genitalia, with the title ‘The Principles of Pleasure’. It fused the old and the new, juxtaposing visual euphemism of the vagina with a subject that has found a voice of its own thanks to unapologetic women across the world. The word is female pleasure, female orgasm. Or what we can conveniently call the orgasm gap.

In a very smart move, the letters in the word ‘pleasure’ turn up as a puzzle when the title shows up when the series opens. It speaks volumes of what the female orgasm or ‘pleasure’ really has been all these years. In this series, you end up going on an educational journey with narrator and comedian Michelle Buteau, to know what orgasm is, and how to get past it.

orgasm gap
Women experience lesser orgasms than men, but it hardly gets talked about. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The series makes no bones about busting body myths, demystifying orgasms, unlocking pleasure and stressing on consent, to explore the “empowering” subject of women’s sexuality. As one lady asserts, “Knowing where the clitoris is knowledge. Knowing where your own clitoris is power!”

What a power-packed line, indeed.

“The Principles of Pleasure” is just one of the many windows today where women can find resonance for their orgasm concerns. Over the years, the world of web series and the social media world have been doing their bit to remove the cloak of culture that veiled women’s sexuality and the need for it to be spoken about. Be it Seema Anand, Leeza Mangaldas, Tanaya Narendra aka Dr Cuterus or Laurie Mintz – the growing tribe of sex-positive influencers are making noise about issues that girls may not often even talk about to their best friends! And dear ladies, most of you may agree that an orgasm gap is one such term!

But what is orgasm gap?

The orgasm gap is a term used to define the disparity in the number of orgasms
between couples in a relationship.

Elucidating it for Health Shots, Dr Ankita Gharge, PCOS Expert and Ob-Gyn at Proactive For Her, says, “It is popularly known that in heteronormative relationships, the female partner experiences a lesser number of orgasms when
compared to their male partner. This orgasm gap exists in our culture mostly
because female pleasure is not taken into account during sexual intercourse.

“The intercourse is mainly male-gender-focused, which means that the nature of sexual activity caters to the man more than the woman. And while the female partner may feel aroused sometimes, she often fails to climax or orgasm. The gap can also be attributed to the fact that the majority of the male partners, and in some cases the females themselves, are unaware of the female genital anatomy and are unable to therefore locate the clitoris. It is also commonly known that many females often fake orgasms to satisfy the ego and self-esteem of their male partners.”

And so, we come to the fact that the orgasm isn’t called elusive for nothing! There may be several women out there who have had sex multiple times, but they may have never experienced the Big O?  Would they admit? Maybe not! Would they ask someone about it? Maybe not! But that’s what has become a matter of interest for a lot of researches globally.

Before scrolling down, how about listening to Leeza Mangaldas, who spoke all about orgasms in this special chat with Health Shots!

Women who orgasm less, tend to expect less sexual pleasure, says study

A latest study by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, deduces that the orgasm gap – or what it calls the “cycle of inequality” – repeats within a relationship when women who orgasm less often reduce the importance they place on this kind of sexual pleasure.

Around 104 sexually active couples were surveyed about how much they orgasm, the ideal amount they would like to and how often they expect people should. The study found a gap in these relationships, with men climaxing more often than their female partners.

Grace Wetzel, a Rutgers social psychology doctoral student who also advocates for orgasm equity, believes that the orgasm gap has implications for women’s pleasure, empowerment, sexual satisfaction and general well-being. “Importantly, this is a gender equality issue. Women are learning to expect and be satisfied with less in their sexual interactions with men,” she adds.

Dr Ghatge points out that according to a few researchers, a greater percentage of heterosexual women experience orgasms better during masturbation when compared to sexual intercourse with a partner.

The need to talk more about orgasm gap, she says, should become as normal as discussions about wage or income gap.

“For a healthy relationship, it is important to ensure that both partners involved get access to and enjoy sexual pleasure equally. The lack of orgasm during or post intercourse makes it difficult for women to experience pleasure and that can have a lasting impact on their relationship,” explains Dr Gharge.

Sexual desire is just like any other natural desire, and deserves to be talked about comfortably – at least in private spaces. The guilt around it needs to be stopped!

Also Read: Here’s why women experience lesser orgasms than men, according to science

sexual pleasure
Sexual pleasure has to be a two-way street and you’ve got to tell your partner that! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How can we close the orgasm gap?

Dr Gharge gives some tips to reduce orgasm gap so that you can stop faking an orgasm:

1. Give importance to female pleasure
2. Ensure that all genders get a basic understanding of the female genital anatomy so that everyone can learn the importance of the clitoris and vagina for sexual stimulation
3. Partners should explore pleasure points for each other to help each other peak sexual stimulation
4. Honest and effective communication about sexual pleasure with your partner can make achieving orgasm easier
5. The taboo surrounding sexual pleasure should be reduced by talking openly
about sexual activity and desires. Informative lectures can come to the rescue
around this topic.

Radhika Bhirani Radhika Bhirani

Content Head for Healthshots.

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