Improvements in gender equality and decades of sex ed have not made women more orgasmic

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Interesting new study finds that - contrary to the sexology advice of the last decades - more masturbation and more partners do not increase women's ability to orgasm during partnered sex. How much do sexologists really understand about human sexuality/orgasm/sexual pleasure and their connections with wellbeing?

From the study ("Determinants of female sexual orgasms" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5087699/):

There has been a continuous declining trend regarding the age of first orgasm in masturbation, but not regarding the age of the first orgasm in intercourse. Nowadays, half of women have had their first orgasm in masturbation at least 5 years prior their first orgasm in intercourse. They have had more time to practice their sexual pleasure via masturbation before their first intercourse, but that has not helped them to achieve an orgasm any younger during intercourse. This result diverges from expectations.

There are even some findings that masturbation is associated with poorer relationship quality, greater risk of female sexual arousal disorder, impaired sexual satisfaction, impaired orgasm (especially vaginal orgasm) and with other adverse processes (Brody, 2007). In this study, female relationship quality was not associated to masturbation frequency but general sexual satisfaction was lower among women who masturbated actively. Active masturbators considered their intercourse more often very pleasant than women who masturbated less often.

Those women who had orgasms much more easily via masturbation had problems to experience it in intercourse. The ease of attaining an orgasm via masturbation was not a good measure of orgasmic capacity during intercourse. Half of the women surveyed usually had an orgasm in intercourse via stimulating both clitoris and vagina, and only one-third usually via stimulating clitoris. Based on these results, the role of the clitoris is not as dominant in sexual stimulation towards orgasm in intercourse as has been expected.

Abstract

Background

The pursuit of sexual pleasure is a key motivating factor in sexual activity. Many things can stand in the way of sexual orgasms and enjoyment, particularly among women. These are essential issues of sexual well-being and gender equality.

Objective

This study presents long-term trends and determinants of female orgasms in Finland. The aim is to analyze the roles of factors such as the personal importance of orgasms, sexual desire, masturbation, clitoral and vaginal stimulation, sexual self-esteem, communication with partner, and partner’s sexual techniques.

Design

In Finland, five national sex surveys that are based on random samples from the central population register have been conducted. They are representative of the total population within the age range of 18–54 years in 1971 (N=2,152), 18–74 years in 1992 (N=2,250), 18–81 years in 1999 (N=1,496), 18–74 years in 2007 (N=2,590), and 18–79 years in 2015 (N=2,150). Another dataset of 2,049 women in the age group of 18–70 years was collected in 2015 via a national Internet panel.

Results

Contrary to expectations, women did not have orgasms that are more frequent by increasing their experience and practice of masturbation, or by experimenting with different partners in their lifetime. The keys to their more frequent orgasms lay in mental and relationship factors. These factors and capacities included orgasm importance, sexual desire, sexual self-esteem, and openness of sexual communication with partners. Women valued their partner’s orgasm more than their own. In addition, positive determinants were the ability to concentrate, mutual sexual initiations, and partner’s good sexual techniques. A relationship that felt good and worked well emotionally, and where sex was approached openly and appreciatively, promoted orgasms.

Conclusion

The findings indicate that women differ greatly from one another in terms of their tendency and capacity to experience orgasms. The improvements in gender equality and sexual education since the 1970s have not helped women to become more orgasmic. Neither has the major increase in masturbation habits (among women in general). One challenge for future studies is to understand why women value their partner’s orgasms more than their own.

FULL STUDY

 

Comments

Connection between orgasm and self-esteem/overall wellbeing

Hi, I am new here and I very excited about the topics you discuss, and I would like to contribute too.

There seems to be a lack of awarness as well as serious und unbiased studies on the connection between female sexualtiy and our overall well-being. Many of my female friends simply lack the valid information and feel confused about their own sex life, they feel as if there was something wrong with them. Several have given up trying to have a satisfying sexual life out of frustration, and have even shut down completely due to the agressiveness of the traditional sex (either living celibate or letting the man having sex with them while they themselves are not willing to have sex at all). A friend of mine, a very sucessfull business woman, who is now in her late 40s/early 50s and who has always been in long-termed partnerships describes herself as "frigid", just because she is not able to orgasm during a very short intercourse with her partner(s). Another friend of mine who has been in a marriage for several decades says that she has never had an orgasm during the intercourse, since - as she herself put it - it was only the ejaculation of her man that mattered. Another friend said that her husband constantly rapes her. The stories that I hear are so sad, that I'd rather stop here. My own experience was not much different.

So why do we women agree to such horrible and unhuman treatment? I suspect it is social conditioning, ignorance, apathy and the low self esteem that makes many of us endure such partnerships. Last year there was a very interesting online summit on cancer (primarily in women) with about 40 or 50 German specialists (therapists, medics, homeopaths, etc) held by Anna Sono. The conclusion of the experts was the following: the major reason for cancer in women is the people pleasing attitudes (i.e. unhealthy sacrifice, giving up one's own needs to please others). Several experts have pointed out that women with cancer tend to have a low self esteem and engage in sexual activity out of sense of guilt or obligation, which has a very negative impact on the nervous and endocrine systems. The most amazing thing is that women with cancer who stopped sacrificing themselsves (both socially and sexually) and engaged in self-care activities instead were able to cure their cancer naturally (that is without any surgery/chemiotherapie/radiation).

I believe our hormones are also responsible for having or not having orgasm. The hormones, especially the ones produced in our kidneys seem to be able to cause the genital sphincters contract. Such muscle contractions result in a clitorial orgasm. This is the type of orgasm that women who do have orgasm in the traditional non-karezza intercourse usually experience. The clitorial orgams feels "hot". It is accompanied by (sometimes very subtle) pulsations in genitals that last up to 20 seconds (usually it is just 1-3 pulsations, but I once counted 23 pulsations, one pulsation usually takes 1 second - at least in body). The clitorial orgasm might be very addictive (especially for women who feel unloved, miserable and undeserving). The clitorial orgasm can be compared to taking drugs like heroine, since they both produce "explosion" in the brain (the scientific proof to clitorial orgasm-heroine correlation can be found in Marnia's book "Cupid's poisoned arrow"). The clitorial orgasm, as I figured out from my own experience, causes serious mood fluctations and numbness (i.e. the absence of awarnness). Clitorial orgasm is something I need up to 2 weeks to recover from. Women opt for having clitorial orgasm (if they can) because it is better than nothing and because the vast majority of us have never experienced what Diana Richardson and other specialists describe as "tantric orgasm", or vaginal orgasm, that non-explosive "cool" soul nurturing full body orgasm that stays with you for hours and even days. The full body orgasm can also be described as "bliss", it orignates in cervix and spreads all over the body. It is the result of a gentle non-goal oriented vagina-penis connection that usually takes considerably more time than a clitorial "friction" orgasm that can be achieved even within several minutes (privided the woman's gonads are over-stimulated due to toxic nutrition and anxiety).

What could really contribute to improving our sexual health and well-being is communicating openly with our partners and explaining how we trully feel (provided we care about our welll being and have figured out what we truly feel and what our basic needs are).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and welcome!

I've been on a listserve with sexology academics for about a decade. It's my impression that the problems in understanding human sexuality are largely the result of a very human psychological weakness: projection. Most of the sexologists are men (and a disproportionate percentage of those are sexual minorities). Sadly, some of the female sexologists have "created themselves in their colleagues' image," so they aren't shedding as much light on female sexuality as they could be.

Today's sexologists project their own experiences with sex onto all humans. Until recently, for example, they insisted that humans aren't pair bonders and that marriage was just an empty social construct. They ignored plenty of hard science on jealousy, mate guarding, etc. But it took an public outcry demanding gay marriage to quiet them. They've also claimed fetishes and other sexual tastes are always innate. Now, the experience of today's digital porn users is proving them dead wrong (and the science is slowly catching up).

We all project our own assumptions to some extent, all day long. It's just unfortunate for humanity's understanding of sexuality that this is also the case in the field of sexology. I think the correction on the issues you raise will come through a better understanding of the brain science of orgasm and its aftermath...in both men and women (and anyone else). That's where the clearest evidence of orgasm's lingering effects can be found.

And someday psychologists will get over their fear of being shamed with labels of "sex negative," and explain to the neuroscientists how projection works...and why post-O neurochemical fluctuations can alter perceptions and priorities. Then it will be evident why lovers should care about understanding the orgasm cycle better. When lovers finally have an explanation and can make their own experiments free of shaming professionals, progress will be made.

All fields of science have blind spots and growing pains (and politics and agendas), so I guess we shouldn't be surprised that this one does too. Only a few decades ago no one could even investigate sex, and I'd say the field is in its arrogant adolescence about now.

When better science is done, women will know what to ask for to improve their wellbeing. That will reduce their resentment and sense of being victimized. It will also make their partners happier. At present, everyone has been given a flawed road map. Everyone's frustration is understandable.

Early in my "detective work," when I asked my female friends (who acknowledged feeling "off" after orgasm) why they didn't speak up, I got answers like, "I'd be put on a psychiatrist's couch if I said that." They were right. While the standard model of "healthy female sexuality" prevails, departure from it is presumed to be pathology. This puts a chill on candor - and the needed research.

Maybe it's time for female researchers to take over the necessary research. It will require a lot of courage - and resistance to the shaming tactics used on anyone who doesn't adhere to the Official Sexology Talking Points. Sadly, shaming tactics have become standard fare in the sexology community and such tactics impede progress.