Feature image via Shutterstock
“Orgasm,” begins the newest paper from the researchers of the Kinsey Institute, “is characterized by subjective feelings of intense sensation and pleasure, including a sudden discharge of accumulated erotic tension at sexual climax and a temporarily altered state of consciousness.” It’s a rather dry opening to some pretty juicy new research about how men and women in the United States are getting off with one another or specifically, how often they’re they’re getting off with each other. In this nation-wide poll, the winners of the orgasm race, at least among women, are very definitely lesbians.
As the sex coverage here at Autostraddle will tell you, orgasms are pretty awesome. Not only are they fun, but they’re good for you, too! Orgasms can cure a headache, reduce menstrual cramps, boost your immune system, and give your mood a boost. If you can make your life better with la petite mort, who wouldn’t want to do it as much as possible? Well, in a new sexological study (yup, that’s a real thing) from some folks from the Kinsey Institute (yup, THAT Kinsey) decided to see who among sexes and sexual orientations were the best getting each other off. If you’re getting images of some kind of televised sex Olympiad, sorry to disappoint— this research was done by a nationwide survey. From over 6000 initial participants, the study pool was narrowed down to 2850 folks of a “statistically representative” sample of the US population. Since this study was about how other people get you off, everyone had to have gotten it on at least once in the last year. Each research subject was then asked to estimate what percentage of the time they reached orgasm with a “familiar partner.”
After tabulating all the data, it turns out that there’s not much difference amongst men, whether they’re gay, straight or bisexual, at least when it comes to how often they get off. Gay and straight men get off about 85% of the time, bisexual men 77% of the time (a non-significant difference from a math standpoint.) Women, on the other hand, were quite variable across the sexuality spectrum. Bisexual women fell at the bottom of the list, reaching climax about 58% of the time. Straight women weren’t much better, coming in at around 62%. Lesbian women came out way ahead, reaching orgasm nearly 75% of the time! However, since the questionnaire did not make distinctions about success rates between male and female partners, it seems reasonable to think that the bi women would have more success when getting down with other women. An even more interesting result comes from looking at the percentage of the lady participants that report having orgasms zero percent of the time. About 13% of bisexual women reported never being able to orgasm with familiar partner, and 7.5% of heterosexual women reported the same. However, for lesbians, that number drops to a minuscule 2.2%, meaning that nearly 98% of lesbians are getting a big O, at least occasionally, from their partners. Given how often women are diagnosed with so-called “orgasm-disorders”— 7-10% of women by one meta-analysis— there seems to be at least some possibility that it’s not a medical condition keeping some of these women from coming, but simply not having someone able to hit the right buttons.
So, aside from giving bragging rights to the rainbow ladies, why would anyone actually want to KNOW who’s getting off the most (or at least, the most often)? Well, according to the article, it’s in hopes of someday improving orgasms from everyone. They write:
“Understanding the factors that influence variation in orgasm occurrence among sexual minority populations may assist in tailoring behavioral therapies for those of different sexual orientations. Moreover, to the extent that lack of orgasm is seen as a common and unwanted problem, learning more about orgasm in same-sex relationships may inform treatment for men and women in both same-sex and mixed-sex relationships”
So, is there a reason why lesbians seem to be so much better at making each other come? Well, the common sense view would say it’s a combination of the tendency of lesbians to be better acquainted with the anatomy of their lovers, combined with the fact that queer lady sex isn’t beholden to fickle things like erections. Researchers seem to echo some of this sentiment:
“One possible explanation is that self-identified lesbian women are more comfortable and familiar with the female body and thus, on average, are better able to induce orgasm in their female partners. Similarly, previous research has suggested that the length of sexual encounters varies as a function of the sex/gender of the participants, with two women having longer durations of sexual activity than heterosexual pairs, potentially affecting orgasm outcomes.”
Some might look at this study and say, “well, isn’t it possible that lesbians are embellishing their percentage out of pride?” And, sure, that’s certainly within the realm of possibility; survey-based research always struggles with the complications self-reporting. But, aside from the fact that there’s not much to gain from it (besides the bragging rights), the overall higher-reported orgasm frequency would still seem to speak to deeper satisfaction with their sex lives than straight women have. So, ladies, next time someone snarks at you about the dreaded Lesbian Bed Death, ignore it, hold your head up high, and maybe remind them that, no matter what stock photos might tell you, lesbian sex actually involves touching each other. Oh, and remember that science says you’re at the pinnacle of climaxing.