What Is The Pleasure Gap?
Updated: Jun 29
As anyone who has watched When Harry Met Sally will know, your experience of sex can be wildly different depending on your gender. From the (very obvious!) differences in the male and female anatomy to the differing types of sexual desire you might experience, things can feel very different indeed for the guys and the girls.
But sadly, perhaps the biggest difference in the experience comes down to the amount of pleasure each gender experiences. And specifically when it comes to orgasms. Now we should caveat that we're talking about heterosexual encounters predominantly here. And we should also caveat that there is a lot more to sexual pleasure than just the orgasm.
But those points aside, it is shocking that while 95% of men* report reaching orgasm during their latest heterosexual encounter, only 65% of women do*. And it is this gaping chasm which is known as The Pleasure Gap.
Why Does The Pleasure Gap Exist?
Well, it depends on a number of factors; the person, the day, the setting and the environment to name just a few. But let us tell you about some of the main culprits.
First up - the fact that sex has been portrayed for centuries as being centered around vaginal intercourse. By everyone. Holywood. Pornography. Magazines. Even music!
But here's the kicker. Only 15% of women can orgasm from penetration*. Whereas the vast majority of women can orgasm from oral or manual stimulation. The fact is, most women need direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm - and penetration doesn't provide this.
Then, there is the small matter of how long sex lasts for. An average couple will have sex for 7-12 minutes. That includes foreplay and penetration. This is unfortunate when you consider that female arousal triggers can’t be rushed. In the physiology of female arousal, most women need around 20 minutes of clitoral stimulation to reach climax.
So even if a woman is getting the right kind of stimulation, they might not be receiving that stimulation for long enough.
Now start to layer on the myriad of other factors which can impact the female orgasm - from sex-negative narratives to hormones, work anxiety, or any number of other variables - and you start to get an understanding of why The Pleasure Gap exists.
Can We Close The Gap?
Yes. But some things have to change. Firstly girls - faking it has to stop!
Faking an orgasm may seem like a good idea in the moment, but it reduces the odds of you getting the sex you want and deserve. And if you if you're faking it from penetrative sex - you're also telling your partner that's how you orgasm! It can feel like you need to fake it to please your partner, but in the long run that can actually have a negative impact on your romantic relationship.
Simply put, by faking it you’re effectively tricking (and conditioning) your partner into giving you the same kind of sex every time. This includes future encounters and liaisons, and so the bad sex cycle continues.
There might also be a little work required - by both sexes. For women, it's important to learn about the factors that can affect your ability to reach orgasm in bed. It's also crucial to learn about your own body and your preferred routes to orgasm through exploration and masturbation, so that you can better guide your partner. The 'Climaxing Consistently' course in the Lover App has extensive guidance and exercises to help you do just that.
For guys, it's going to be a case of banishing old habits and being open to learning new ones. This could mean re-framing foreplay as coreplay, brushing up on those oral skills or simply learning to slow things down. Our Better In Bed course in the Lover App provides you with everything you need to close the gap!
So there you have it. The Pleasure Gap has been around for hundreds of years, but that doesn't mean it's here to stay. At Lover, it's our mission to help everyone enjoy better, more pleasurable, sex. So download the app, sign up today and join us on the journey!
*Frederick, D.A., John, H.K.S., Garcia, J.R.et al.Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample.Arch Sex Behav47,273–288 (2018).
*Wade, L. D., Kremer, E. C., & Brown, J. (2005). The incidental orgasm: The presence of clitoral knowledge and the absence of orgasm for women.Women and Health,42,117–138.