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Gender Differences In Orgasmic Functioning

Jamie Stroud

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In this article I analyze all research studies on orgasmic functioning that I could find and obtain. When it comes to gender differences, only genders within the same study were compared. I make no cross-study comparisons as I find it problematic due to the different methodologies and other variables involved amongst each study.


Not only are females less likely to orgasm during sex but they're also less likely to feel the need to orgasm during sex or to feel stressed if they don't orgasm during sex. A general reality is that the more intensely a drive or emotion is experienced, the more likely there's to be a behavior/outlet for it. Mild sadness might do nothing, but extreme sadness is likely to result in crying (the outlet). Mild anger might do nothing, but extreme anger is likely to result in shouting, breaking stuff, or violence (outlets). If someone experiences extreme sadness and doesn't cry, or extreme anger and doesn't shout, they tend to feel nervously disturbed for a while. There being more females than males that aren't stressed/don't feel a need for orgasm (the outlet) suggests that they simply don't experience their sex drive/sexual arousal as intensely.

"Most males, particularly younger males, may be nervously disturbed unless they can regularly carry their responses through to the point of orgasm. Most females are not seriously disturbed if they do not have a regular sexual outlet, although some of them may be as disturbed as most males are without a regular outlet." (Kinsey et al., 1953, p. 682)

Homosexual females are more likely to orgasm from sex than heterosexual females are. It's commonly been noted by others that this is probably partially due to generally understanding their own gender and anatomy and how to work it better than the average male and partially due to spending more time on sexual activities that put more focus on the clitoris (which might be partially due to penile-vaginal sex not being an option). However, there's another possibility that's less considered. On average, gay males have the highest quantity of sex, straights next most, and lesbians the least. (Stroud, 2014) This suggests that females have more sex than they're inclined for in straight relationships while males have less sex than they're inclined for in straight relationships. The more sex you have, the more difficult it might be to keep up the orgasm ratio. Also, there's likely to be a higher ratio of bisexual females involved in "homosexual" sex than in "straight" sex, and bisexual females, on average, have a higher sex drive (Stroud & Stroud, 2014b), which likely makes it easier to have more orgasms.

It's often said that penile-vaginal sex doesn't much stimulate the head of the genitals of females but it does for males, thereby not causing as intense of sexual arousal simply due to the physiological mechanics of sex. However, anecdote suggests that even homosexual males who strictly bottom (engulf/receive during penile-anal sex) are still highly likely to orgasm even though the head of their genitals isn't being stimulated. Either their partner stimulates them by hand and/or they stimulate themselves by hand to orgasm. It seems to be less commonly the case for females to function this way. This is especially interesting because many people note that even though females generally take longer to orgasm during sex, they generally orgasm by hand during masturbation just as fast as males. Why not put that masturbation by hand ability to use?

"There was no factor which showed a higher correlation with the frequency of orgasm in marital coitus than the presence or absence of pre-marital experience in orgasm." (Kinsey et al., 1953, p. 385)

For gay male bottoms, in circumstances when they don't get stimulated by their partner's hand nor by their own hand to orgasm, they'll often ask for oral sex or otherwise something specific to help them orgasm. It seems to be less often the case that females will ask for males to help them orgasm if they don't do so by penile-vaginal sex, they seem more likely to just let it go (and often not be stressed about it either). The case of females being less likely to orgasm during sex than males is often referred to as the orgasm gap and it's often framed as if it's the fault of males. While males being apathetic toward helping their female partner have orgasms is a possibility, another, perhaps, more likely possibility is that females generally don't care to orgasm as much as males.

"The slower responses of the female in coitus appear to depend in part upon the fact that she frequently does not begin to respond as promptly as the male, because psychological stimuli usually play a more important role in the arousal of the average male, and a less important role in the sexual arousal of the average female." (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 626-627)

"The male may be continuously stimulated by seeing the female, by engaging in erotic conversation with her, by thinking of the sexual techniques he may use, by remembering some previous sexual experience, by planning later contacts with the same female or some other sexual partner, and by any number of other psychological stimuli which keeps him aroused even though he may interrupt his coital contacts. Perhaps two-thirds of the females find little if any arousal in such psychological stimuli. Consequently, when the steady build-up of the female's response is interrupted by the male's cessation of movement, changes of position, conversation, or temporary withdrawal from the genital union, she drops back to or toward a normal physiologic state from which she has to start again when the physical contacts are renewed." (Kinsey et al., 1953, p. 627)

Females are far less likely to have casual sex with strangers than males (Stroud, 2014) and the the orgasm gap is sometimes stated as the reason. However, I interviewed random females and asked them why they don't want casual sex with strangers, and none of them stated the orgasm gap as a reason. (Stroud & Jaxon, 2014) Furthermore, gay males still seem highly inclined to have casual sex with strangers even if they're bottoms. The point being that casual sex with strangers might still be compelling even without orgasm, and that asking your partner to help you orgasm or just making yourself orgasm after sex are generally options too. Lastly, bisexual females are far more likely to have casual sex with strangers than heterosexual and homosexual females (Stroud, 2014), yet they're also the least likely to orgasm from sex!

It does seem baffling at first regarding why bisexual females would, on average, have a higher sex drive yet also, on average, have a lower ability to orgasm during sex. However, the study that found them less likely to orgasm during sex was of singles who had sex in the past 12 months. (Garcia, Lloyd, Wallen, & Fisher, 2014) This has important implications. Bisexual females are the most likely of all gender and sexual orientation combinations (even males) to want sex after only 1 or 2 dates. (Stroud & Stroud, 2014b) So the likely scenario is of straight and lesbian females who are having a small quantity of sex partners that they have 3+ dates with before having sex compared to bisexual females who are having a high quantity of sex partners that they have sex with after only 1 or 2 dates. On the one hand, males and females are about equally likely to care if their partner orgasms. (Stroud & Stroud, 2014b) Furthermore, a female's ability to orgasm is one of the biggest factors of happiness in relationships for both males and females. (Terman, 1938, p. 374) On the other hand, that's in the context of long-term relationships. Anecdotally, people are far less likely to care that their partner orgasms in the context of casual sex (e.g. one night stands). Physiologically, males generally have an easier time orgasming during sex than females (implying that they'll orgasm first and not help their partner orgasm after if she doesn't ask for help).

It'd seem likely that because straight and lesbian females wait more dates before having sex, their partners develop stronger affection and attachment for them during that time, and their partners will then be more caring to help them orgasm during sex compared to bisexual females and their partners. The study did ask about sex with a "familiar partner" which might seem to debunk this explanation, but not necessarily. One might consider familiar those you work with or go to school with, even if you rarely interact. Bisexual females might also be more likely to have fuck buddy relationships, in which case they might have sex with someone long-term, and so he'd be considered familiar, but because their relationship is primarily focused on sex, affection or attachment is not likely to be as strong compared to more encompassing relationships, and so their sex partners will probably be less likely to care to help them orgasm. Also, another interesting phenomenon I've learned anecdotally is that females are much more likely than males to still consider someone for a long-term relationship after having sex on the first date. For comparison, a lot of males will lose sexual interest in someone after having sex on the first date. Females are less likely to feel this way and will more likely maintain (or try to maintain) contact with a male after having had sex on the first date. In which case, even if they end up never having sex again, the female might still consider him familiar if they end up texting/talking after the incident, regardless how dim the rest of their interactions might be.

Now if another study was done with a larger sample size (there were only 60 bisexual females in this study) with strict definitions on what constitutes sex (people vary a great deal in how they conceptualize sex), with considerations on how they orgasm (e.g. by oral, by their hand, by their partner's hand, etcetera), and with specific and strictly defined categories of relationships (e.g. single, FWB, long-term, etcetera), that'd provide more insight into orgasmic functioning issues.

"Because there is such a wide variation in the sexual responsiveness and frequencies of overt activity among females, many females are incapable of understanding other females. There are fewer males who are incapable of understanding other males." (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp.538-539)

"The range of variation in the female far exceeds the range of variation in the male." (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 537-538)

"There are many social problems which cannot be understood unless one comprehends the tremendous range of variation which is to be found in sexual behavior among both females and males, but particularly among females." (Kinsey et al., 1953, p. 539)

Orgasms From Sex Comparisons

Multiple Orgasms Comparisons

Length Of Time Until Orgasm Comparisons

Importance Comparisons



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