Men, Women, And The Big “O”

by Kate Harveston

How often do you orgasm with a partner?

Your answer to that question will probably vary, depending on who you are and who your partner is. New science suggests that if you are a straight, cisgender woman in a relationship with a straight, cisgender man, you are in the group of people who are least likely to reach orgasm with a partner. Bisexual women orgasm more often, and lesbian women reach orgasm even more often.

Men, including gay men, are more likely to reach orgasm than women in every single one of those groups. Although it is important to note that the gap is significantly less for gay and bisexual men. The group of men who reported reaching orgasm with a partner the least frequently is bisexual men, of whom 88% said they reached orgasm regularly. In comparison, only 65% of heterosexual women said they regularly reached orgasm with a partner. That’s a pretty big gap.

Deep Roots Make Wide Trees

Sex is a tricky subject for most people. We feel weird talking about it. What we seem to feel even weirder talking about is a woman’s pleasure during sex.

Girls and women are brought up and socialized to value their partner’s pleasure more than their own, partially because some women don’t even realize they have a right to sexual pleasure.

Men’s pleasure during sex is talked about much more frequently. Viagra can literally be delivered to your doorstep nowadays, and erectile dysfunction treatments are even covered by Medicare. Birth control only got covered under Obamacare, and we all know there’s been plenty of discussion about that being eradicated. Yet, similar products to Viagra for women are not covered, and are fairly lacking in availability in the first place. You would think that with 95% of straight men reaching orgasm almost all the time, there would be a larger focus on moving toward similar research for women.

There are some making strides in that direction. Their jobs are harder because of the obscene lack of research into the matter, and the ridiculous taboo still surrounding it. Women’s orgasms are thought to be more mental than men, and that’s one of the reasons women may fake orgasms. But I don’t think I’m alone in saying that faking orgasms sucks, and that’s not a viable solution to this problem whatsoever.

Orgasm Treatments

Having good sex starts with both partners being eager participants. The most well-known drug to help men who might have a problem with this is Viagra, which was introduced by the FDA in 1998. By contrast, the first prescription pill to help boost women’s libido, Addyi, didn’t make it out until 2015. Women have less chance of reaching orgasm, so it makes sense to introduce treatments more than 15 years behind men, right?

*Exasperated sigh.*

Addyi is still under scrutiny because many believe the FDA shouldn’t have approved it. Sprout Pharmaceuticals did not follow standard guidelines for medications, but Addyi got through anyway. Another drug called Bremelanotide is currently in the testing phase. It’s showing promise and will have to conform to higher standards than Addyi. It’s already in the phase of being considered an investigational new drug and has passed through Phase 2 and 3 trials with positive results.

This may double women’s options to an amazing two whole prescription drugs!

What we fail to fully address is that this all stems from society systematically placing more importance on men’s needs than women’s, both in bed and outside of it. Plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that women who have issues with sex and libido aren’t taken as seriously for it.

One of my own close friends once told me that her husband had made a complaint about a drug impacting his sex drive and was immediately given the option to change to another one. During this particular coffee shop conversation, another friend of mine chimed in, frustrated, because she has apparently been complaining about the impact of medication on her sex drive for years. But so far, no one has taken it seriously.

“Every time I bring it up, my GP waves it off, and hasn’t tested for endocrine system problems or hormone imbalance, or even suggested trying other medications. It’s becoming infuriating but it’s like it doesn’t matter whatsoever.” 

This is a problem. About 43 percent of women experience low sex drive, while 31 percent of men do. Meanwhile, there’s one drug to address female hypoactive sex drive, and about 14 for male impotence, some of which, as mentioned, are even available for easy delivery. It’s actually even more asinine when you consider that it took until 2016 for us to realize men and women experience orgasms in almost the same way.

Factor in that conditions like anorgasmia affect 10-15 percent of women. There’s no treatment specific to this disorder, despite the estimates that it impacts tens of thousands of women, and the data that points to that number is also inconsistent. Yet, most doctors will tell you it’s all in your head.

This, in a tiring refrain, reminds us that we still have a long way to go in the way we address women’s sexual and reproductive rights and issues. Women should all be able to own their sexuality the way that men can without having it define them. We can’t help women and girls to be strong and empowered while simultaneously shunning their entire sexuality.

Top photo: Amelie

More from BUST

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Straight Women Are Having The Fewest Orgasms Because Straight Men Won’t Go Down On Them

“I Can’t Orgasm Unless I’m In A Specific Position. What Can I Do?””I Can’t Orgasm Unless I’m In A Specific Position. What Can I Do?”


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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