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WTF? Orgasm Gap?

Jessie Fano's picture


We want to welcome back and introduce a new Owning Sexuality writer in the Owning Pink stable. Jessie Fano (a purposeful pseudonym for reasons you’ll soon understand) has agreed to come partially out of the closet to talk to us about what it really means to Own Sexuality. She’s direct and explicit, so read with care, or don’t read as you see fit. And thanks, Jess, for accepting our invitation to tell it like it really is. 

The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior came out yesterday. Mostly it said that people have sex a lot – even old people (woot). It also said that stuff like masturbation is pretty common, oral sex isn’t nearly as common as I think it should be and that anal sex is about as common as I thought it was. Most of the media picked up on the interesting fact that teenagers use condoms more than guys over 50. Hmmmm. That’s interesting, but it’s not what really caught my attention. Here’s the data point that boinked my brain.

Who Knew There Was an Orgasm Gap?

According to the study: 

About 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm at the most recent sexual event; this compares to the 64% of women who report having had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event. (A difference that is too large to be accounted for by some of the men having had male partners at their most recent event.)

Whoa, Nellie! The Orgasm Gap has been measured and it’s 21% long! This means women are not telling their partners that all of that moaning and writhing around produces something less than the searing white lights. At first I was horrified. “Damn! We’re repressing ourselves to the patriarchy! Stroking our lovers’ ego (among other things) to keep the peace between the sheets!”

Then I took a deep breath and realized that yeah, I may be guilty of the Orgasm Gap too. Why? Well, sometimes – especially when I was younger -- it WAS to stroke my lover’s ego. Especially when that orgasm was right on the edge of real. But mostly – it’s ‘cuz I don’t always really know whether I orgasmed or not. 

I know. Shocking. But I bet I’m not the only one.

How I Fell Into The Orgasm Gap

With little information to go on -- other than some clinical descriptions I read in some dusty, embarassing book -- for a long time, I only counted total explosions as orgasms. If I didn’t end up sweaty and quivering I’d think, “F-ck. Failed again.” So if I’d answered this survey about ten years ago, my husband and I probably would have fallen into the 21% Orgasm Gap the study identified. But over the last decade I’ve had more conversations with my vagina about what constitutes an actual orgasm. And over that time, I’ve become a little more forgiving. I was pleased to learn, reading Lissa’s book this week, that I’m totally not alone. Our pussies offer up quite pleasant conversation when we take them out of the closet for a chat.

Anyway, back to the Orgasm Gap and how I count a lot more of my experience in bed as orgasmic these days, even when I’m not singing from the top of my lungs and ripping hubby’s hair out. If I writhe around and feel good but my brain doesn’t explode, why shouldn’t it count as a damn good time? And isn’t an orgasm mostly just a damn good time? Sure there may be some medical definition about just how tight your muscles have to squeeze to count, but that doesn't do me any good as I'm laying in afterglow. Today, I round up on my experiences in life all over the place – including between the sheets – and as a result, hubby and I might be more 50-50 in answering that survey question. In our own bedroom we’re closing the Orgasm Gap.

Er… let me check just to be sure.

Me: Welcome home from work, dear. I have a question for you. Did you think I had an orgasm last time we romped around the king-size? 

Him: *looks panicked * I don’t remember. I think so, yeah.

Me: Bingo! You win!

We’ve got a date on the calendar for Friday this week. Gonna go for a mindblower, but if we f-ck it up, I’m pretty sure we’ll close the gap anyway;)

How ‘bout you? Do you and your lover(s) have an Orgasm Gap? If so, who are you fooling – yourself or your lover? If you’re gapless, hoo-rah! What’s your secret? Do tell, and as always with my posts, feel free to be anonymous. I am!

PS - Just let my hubby read this post. He giggled, said it was 21% "wide not long"... (I kept it in 'cuz it's funnier this way). Anyway, he pointed out that sometimes deception in the bedroom is ok. Role playing, for example. We had a nice discussion and in the end agreed that a little deception that does no harm and increases your (and/or your lover's) excitement can be ok. While I agree with the principle, I don't think that's a good reason to systematically fake an orgasm or let your partner get away without realizing you're not satisfied. As with all things sexual, what matter's most is that you're being true to yourself and your partner in the best way you know how. Chat with your lover about it and report back!


Researcher of WTF? Questions You'd Ask Your Sex Therapist If Only You Had One? Got a question? Ask me! (Twitter @JessieFano)


Sheena LaShay's picture

Mind the Gap so you don't fall in

In my current relationship we do not experience a gap. We are intentional about pleasing each other and communicate when that happens or does not happen. Surprisingly in the beginning of my relationship, it was always the case that I had an orgasm and sometimes he did not...although he never faked it. He let me know that it didn't happen. These days we know how to both reach our happy place together with each other....multiple times. :) But I think that's just because somehow we found our sexual match.

Mimilicious's picture


I couldn't agree more! At the ripe old age of 58 I met my match finally! It took us a while to get on the same page emotionally, but we have carried foreplay to a new art form and I have dozens of earth rocking orgasms every time we play, that are always topped by the mutual one we share when he comes. Granted this isn't 100% of the time but its a strong 97. I am incredibly blessed woman who will celebrate 60th birthday on Saturday.

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