Do lesbians have more orgasms than straight women?

The research has been done!

Do lesbians have more orgasms than straight women?
Photo by engin akyurt / Unsplash

This isn't actually a new concept, research over the last decade has shown that women who identify as lesbians definitely do have more orgasms than women who identify as straight, but no one has ever really been able to figure out why that is.

But a new study that has been published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science perhaps sheds some light.

Researchers from Rutgers University in the US - Kate Dickman, Grace M. Wetzel, and Diana T. Sanchez - have been testing their theory that the orgasm gap is in part due to what they describe as sexual scripts. What this means in practice is that the pleasure that we experience is shaped what we expect will happen during a sexual encounter, and that expectation is shaped by what we see in movies, television, and porn.

What the research is suggesting is that if the reality of your sexual encounter doesn't match up to your expectations then you're going to experience less pleasure and less orgasms. The possible conclusions are that women who identify as lesbians are a bit more realistic in what they're expecting to feel during a sexual encounter, or maybe that women are better than men at delivering pleasure to a woman's body - both of things could easily be true.

“We wanted to look into why that disparity between lesbian and heterosexual women exists so that we could get a better understanding of why the orgasm gap exists in general...” explained Grace Wetzel, reflecting on the research.

To test their theories, the research team designed two online studies — one of heterosexual women and lesbians and another of bisexual women. The first study asked a mixed group of 476 heterosexual women and lesbians about the importance of orgasms and their expectations about climaxing during sex. It found that lesbians reported more clitoral stimulation in their sexual encounters, higher orgasm expectations, greater orgasm pursuit and having more orgasms than heterosexual women. However, orgasms were equally important to heterosexual women as they were to lesbians.

In the second study of 482 bisexual participants, the researchers asked the women similar questions about their expectations of orgasms and how strongly they would pursue them in a hypothetical sexual encounter with either a man or a woman.

That study found that bisexual women had the same orgasm pursuit and importance regardless of partner gender in the hypothetical scenario, but those partnered with women in those cases had higher expectations for clitoral stimulation and orgasms than those hypothetically partnered with men.

The conclusion drawn by the research team is that partner gender plays a key role in shaping the expectations of the type of sex that we'll have and the pleasure we'll receive.

When the sexual encounter is between a man and a woman, the study determined that the most common sexual script - what people expect to happen during sex - includes foreplay, then vaginal intercourse, from which the man orgasms, and then sex ends. 

“This heterosexual script prioritises the man’s orgasm, as intercourse alone is associated with the lowest orgasm frequency for women...” wrote the researchers. "Women who have sex with women are more likely to engage in nonpenetrative acts and don’t adhere as much to any sexual script based on gender."

“What we should take away from this research is that when women are having sex with men, in general, they’re typically not experiencing enough clitoral stimulation to facilitate an equal opportunity for orgasm...” explained Grace Wetzel, adding that couples - regardless of sexuality and gender - could “work to make their sexual encounters more pleasurable in general by including those sex acts that are most likely to result in orgasm for their partner.”

There's obviously still lots of things we don't know about orgasms and sexual pleasure - there may be other factors at play beyond the gender of our sexual partners. For example, women may feel more comfortable communicating with other women about what they need to experience orgasm.

What we do know is that we're fully committed to continue the research!

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