What is the Pleasure Gap?

What is the Pleasure Gap?

When was the last time you saw a woman orgasm on a TV show which did not involve penetration? Yet, in show after show bold enough to display sex scenes, women continue to be shown having mind-blowing orgasms from vaginal intercourse alone. As a society, penetrative sex is highly overvalued. In reality, most women cannot reach orgasm through penetrative sex alone.

Simply put, The Pleasure Gap (or ‘O gap’ in some circles) refers to heterosexual sexual encounters where men have more orgasms than women, and that gap is significant. So significant, in fact, that there is a book called The Pleasure Gap: American Women and the Unfinished Sexual Publication, by writer, journalist, and expert Katherine Rowland.

 The numbers don't lie. Women (vulva owners) are having fewer orgasms.

According to one study by the Kinsey Institute, men reach orgasm during intercourse with a woman 85% of the time, while heterosexual women orgasm only 63% (Lesbian women achieve orgasm during sex 75% of the time). A second U.S. survey, published in 2017 showed a further increased gap to 95% for  heterosexual men reaching an orgasm versus 65% for heterosexual women.

In The Pleasure Gap, Katherine Rowland rejects the idea that women should settle for less pleasure. Instead, she insists women should take the pleasure gap just as seriously as the pay gap in the workplace and understand its causes and effects. 

Unlike the pay gap, the causes for the pleasure gap are more nuanced, and there is no right direction in which to point the finger. The good news is we can rule out medical and psychological reasons and look to anatomy and cultural norms for answers.


In the game of chess, it’s ‘King me’ to win. Well, no more. Now it’s ‘Queen me’!

The clitoris is Queen. Clitoral stimulation has been determined as the most reliable method of reaching an orgasm for women. The vast majority of women cannot have orgasms without clitoral stimulation, whether orally or manually. In fact, in an article by ABC news, only 15% of (vulva owners) can have orgasms from penetration alone.

 Why is it a big surprise that the clitoris plays a crucial role in a female orgasm? As the most sensitive part of the erogenous zone, it has a whopping 8,000 nerve endings in the glans. (That is more than double the entire head of a penis). In fact, the clitoris exists solely for pleasure.

A 2014 study by the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that lesbians orgasmed 75% of the time during sex, compared with 61% for heterosexual women. This difference is primarily due to the prioritization of clitoral stimulation during women-only sexual encounters. 

So Are You Faking?

When it comes to faking an orgasm, it is happening with women all the time. What about you? Your secret is safe. A study by British researchers revealed that 80% of women fake orgasms during half of their sexual intercourse encounters.

Why Should a Woman Want to Orgasm?

Orgasms provide numerous benefits. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior  determined that an "orgasm triggers the release of oxytocin, which may help to relieve stress."

 After you orgasm, your body releases vasopressin and melatonin, which aids your sleep cycle. In addition to oxytocin, a boost in other feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin makes you feel happy, satisfied, and more likely to get a good night's sleep.


So, How is This Gap Closed?

In many countries and cultures, female masturbation and female pleasure are still taboo. This taboo continues to be fueled by lack of conversations and truthful information. However, thanks to multiple studies of real women, a clitoral stimulation is often shown as the easiest and fastest way for a woman (or vulva-owner) to reach an orgasm. Therefore, in order to close the orgasm gap, both women and men must understand, embrace, and adjust their education, conversation, and masturbation accordingly.


Here are a few ways to close the orgasm gap for a woman:

  •   Conversation: Talk about and demonstrate ways which help the woman to orgasm…
  •   Education: Utilize videos, books, or other materials to learn new ways to stimulate the clitoris to bring the woman to orgasm…
  •   Masturbation: Find and use self, various tools and toys to help the clitoris be stimulated to create an orgasm…

Enjoy your orgasms!