Who Has More Orgasms? Science Says...

Does anyone else find research into human sexuality as riveting as I do? Seriously. I love reading about this stuff. And here’s a new tidbit for those of you who share my fascination: According to a new study conducted by researchers from Indiana, Emory, and Rutgers Universities, sexual orientation actually does have some bearing on the frequency with which we reach orgasm — but only for women. Who knew?

The study, which was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, surveyed 6,151 men and women between the ages of 21 and 65 via an online questionnaire. Participants answered questions identifying their gender, sexual orientation, and, on a scale of zero to 100, the percentage of time they orgasm with a “familiar partner.” From the larger sample, the researchers then picked out a smaller subsample of 2,850 singles — 1,497 men and 1,353 women — who had had sex within the previous 12 months. In the analysis of this subset, they found two things: One, women in general seem to have fewer orgasms than men, although they have a greater variety of types of orgasm; and two, the likelihood of orgasm varies with sexual orientation for women, but nor for men.

Let’s take a look at the data for that second point. According to the survey, the men all reported a relatively similar orgasm rate — 85.5 percent for heterosexual men, 84.7 for gay men, and 77.6 for bisexual men. With women, though, there was a considerable divergence: Heterosexual women reported a 61.6 percent orgasm rate and bisexual women a 58 percent one — but lesbian women reported a rate of 74.7 percent. In short, for every six orgasms straight or bisexual women have, lesbian women have seven and a half. Interesting, no?

What we don’t know yet, though, is why that’s the case. “One possible explanation,” the researchers posited, “is that lesbian women are more comfortable and familiar with the female body and thus, on average, are better able to induce orgasm in their female partner.” This sounds plausible, although it leaves the mystery as to why the same isn’t true for bisexual women. I suppose when we start wading into that particular stream, we have to start considering the frequency with which each individual partners with men vs. women — but that’s pure speculation. As the researchers noted, “These findings demonstrate the need for further investigations into the comparative sexual experiences and sexual health outcomes of sexual minorities.”

We're working on it, Sherlock. Thanks.

So what does all this mean? Author Justin R. Garcia, MS, PhD, an assistant professor of gender studies and a director of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University explained it to the Huffington Post via email. “Little is known about orgasm occurrences among women and men of varied sexual orientations across the adult lifespan,” he wrote. “Understanding the factors that influence variation in orgasm occurrence among sexual minority populations may assist in tailoring behavior therapies for those of different sexual orientations.” It might even help us all have better sex: He continued, “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.” The results? “Promotion of a more informed and positive sexual health care.” In other words, everybody wins!

We’ve got a long way to go when it comes to unraveling all the mysteries surrounding orgasms; as Sarah Jacoby at Refinery29 noted, this study focused only on “familiar” partners (no one-night stands), didn’t include participants who identified as neither male nor female, and stuck only to three sexual orientations, rather than taking into account the whole spectrum of possibilities. But it’s an excellent jumping-off point for more research, and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what else we find out about ourselves in the future. Masters of Sex: The Next Generation, anyone?

Images: Bustle Stock Photo; Cheezburger; Giphy