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Here’s Why So Many Women Can’t Orgasm During Sex

This one goes out to all the vaginas that aren’t all that enthused by penetration alone.

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When it comes to having a vagina and having orgasms, sometimes the struggle is very real.

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Especially if you want to orgasm during penetration. It just doesn’t happen all that often…or, ever.

The good news is that you're not alone, and you're not broken, either! Research shows that women are less likely to orgasm during sex than men are.

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A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women only orgasm 62.9% of the time with a familiar partner, while men orgasm 85.1% of the time. And women are even less likely to finish during casual sex, with only about 40% saying that they climaxed during their last hookup (compared to 80% of men), according to a study in the American Sociological Review.

There are numerous other studies and stats out there about the female orgasm struggle, and the numbers vary depending on the sample and the decade in which the research occurred. Bottom line, though: If you have a vagina, sex without orgasm may be a frustratingly common reality.

BUT HERE'S THE THING. Not all women have trouble orgasming during sex. Like lesbians, for instance.

According to one study, lesbians reported having more orgasms more often than heterosexual women and bisexual women did. Sure, they might be more familiar with the equipment, but another major reason may be that lesbian partners often don't rely only on penetration for orgasm.


Your genitals may need some more variety than that.

In a study of 3,900 men and women (nearly all heterosexual), both genders were more likely to have an orgasm the last time they had sex if they racked up a greater number of sexual acts (like oral sex, anal sex, manual stimulation, penile-vaginal intercourse, etc.). BUT, most of the men and women in this study reported only having P-in-V intercourse the last time they had sex. People… you’re doing it wrong.

Think about it: Do you rely on penetration to get off when you’re by yourself?

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Probably not. One small study found that most people hone in on the clitoris instead. But weirdly, the study participants thought that other people did self-penetrate when flying solo. So stop thinking you’re the lone weirdo who doesn’t get off by inserting a dildo, and just go with whatever works for you.

Also, most vaginas are like, “LOL no, I don’t work that way.”

“We’re not really constructed to have an orgasm from intercourse alone,” sex and relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., author of The Normal Bar, tells BuzzFeed Life. “The clitoris is where all the nerve endings are — except for the cervix — and there are almost none in the barrel of the vagina.” The clitoris actually has eight times the amount of nerve endings you’ll find in the head of the penis, which should tell you just how important it is.

With run-of-the-mill penetration, you probably don’t get a whole lot of clitoral contact. Research shows that women who have a shorter distance between their clitoris and their urethra were more likely to orgasm during intercourse (so if you’re not built that way, it might make it harder to come during sex). Another study found that women with anorgasmia (an inability to orgasm) tended to have smaller clitorises. So basically, your unique geography down there can make a huge difference.

That said, “There are women who are able to have vaginal orgasms, which interestingly are different mechanisms than clitoral orgasms,” sexual health expert Dr. Lauren Streicher, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever, tells BuzzFeed Life. “Stimulation of the cervix actually causes some women to have orgasms that go along a different nerve pathway.” So if you do orgasm during penetration, awesome! If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

If you really want to have an orgasm during penetration, make sure your clitoris is involved and your head is in the game.

“Above all you have to know how your own body works,” says Schwartz. If your clitoris is the key to your orgasm, make sure your partner knows that. In most positions, it’s possible for one of you to reach down and stimulate your clitoris either manually or with a vibrator. Do it — it’s not an inconvenience, it’s how you orgasm.

Another trick: Make sure you’re thisclose to coming before you, uh, put it in. This way, any little movement or stimulation will take you over the edge, says Schwartz. You can get there with foreplay, masturbation, whatever, but stopping yourself right before you orgasm and then switching to penetration can be an easy way to get off during P-in-V sex.

Or it’s possible that your head is getting in the way. Maybe you can self-penetrate to orgasm but when you’re with a partner, it’s a no-go. In this case, make sure you’re feeling fully relaxed, safe, secure, and turned on before you start. Lots of foreplay, communication, and trust are necessary.

Final step: Stop caring about having an orgasm during penetration, because who has time for that noise?

“I would like to have the emphasis taken off having an orgasm during penetration,” says Streicher. There’s no reason to think that your happy ending is any less special just because it happens without a penis inside you.