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Orgasm 101

Here are three important things you probably didn’t know about orgasms, but should
6 Min Read
Orgasm 101

1. On average, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes of continuous stimulation for people with vaginas to reach orgasm.


2. Furthermore, roughly 80% of people with vaginas orgasm purely through clitoral stimulation rather than vaginal.


3. There is more to a male orgasm than many people realize. While penile arousal is the most common method, people with penises can also have an orgasm by targeting their prostate with body contact or sex toys.


Even if this is all you read, you are more equipped to understand both male and female pleasure. Now that we’ve covered that, let’s dive into the basics.


What is the Orgasm Gap?

On average, men in heterosexual relationships have orgasms more than women do. This inequality is known as the orgasm gap. Many people believe that this gap stems from the lack of male interest in female pleasure. But both men and women are curious about ways to equalize the playing field: One of the most common questions sex experts receive from women is “How do I achieve an orgasm?” and one of the most common questions they receive from heterosexual men is, “How do I make my female partner achieve an orgasm?”

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These graphs might even been generous. Other studies report that men orgasm 95% of the time while female only achieve the same about 30% of the time (3)

These graphs might even be generous. Other studies report that men orgasm 95% of the time while female only achieve the same about 30% of the time (3).


So What’s to Blame?

Poor sexual education, which often leaves people feeling misguided and uninformed, is often a good starting point.


Typical definitions of sex focuses on intercourse, or the insertion of a penis into a vagina. This definition is male-dominant, heteronormative, and focuses on vaginal penetration rather than clitoral stimulation. 


Don’t get me wrong, people with vaginas can still achieve an orgasm during regular intercourse, but it’s both not as easy nor as common. This is likely because heterosexual couples aren’t realizing the importance of foreplay… (there is a reason that bisexual and lesbian women are said to have about three times the amount of orgasms than their heterosexual counterparts)! 


Is Sigmund Freud to Blame for the Orgasm Gap?

Freud’s theory on frigidity might still be haunting plenty of people. 


Sigmund Freud is one of the most famous names in the world of psychology. He is the founder of the psychoanalytic theory, which draws conclusions about the conscious and subconscious mind. In 1925, he published an idea known as frigidity, which argued that “women who need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm are defective.” Freud believed it was a woman’s responsibility to achieve an orgasm through vaginal stimulation, and that she could learn to do so.


Not only was his theory incorrect, but he was disillusioning the majority of the female population into believing they had failed at becoming “true” women. It makes you wonder, could theories like these have spread fear and shame about the need for external stimulation? Some experts even claim this misconception was partially responsible for people’s habits of  faking an orgasm.


Women’s Responsibility

1. Don’t: Faking an orgasm 

  • Don’t do it. It tells your partner that they are doing the correct thing to please you when they are not. This is a disservice to all parties involved.

2. Do: Value your own pleasure

  • If you’re a woman who has sex with men, think to yourself, “How many times have I had sex with a male partner and not finished?” Now think about the opposite: “What if I were achieving orgasms every time and he wasn’t?” Not only does the orgasm gap become very apparent, but you’ll also probably notice how strange it is to think about orgasming while your partner doesn’t. This standard doesn’t need to be the norm. You can change it by putting in the work to equalize the experience. Open up the conversation by telling your partner what you are interested in, and what can make the experience equally enjoyable for both of you.

3. Don’t: Ignore your stress levels

  • Sex is a very psychological process. If you aren’t present or you are feeling particularly stressed out such as body insecurity, it will have a big effect on your experience. Take the time to either accept how you are feeling or talk it through with your partner before you get going.

4. Don’t: Focus too much on the “end goal”

  • Feeling like you want to or “need” to achieve an orgasm can also be stopping you from having one. This focus is yet another source of potential stress, which will only work against you. Take a deep breath and try to enjoy the journey rather than the destination.


How to Make a Change?

1. Become more aware of your personal orgasm gap. Awareness is key: It can help you think about the changes you and your partner could make (5).


2. Increase the amount of time you spend on foreplay. A lot of females feel uncomfortable with the idea of spending 15 to 20 minutes on foreplay. However, in Becoming Cliterate, Laurie Mintz responds to these concerns with the question, “Why aren’t you worth the 20 minutes?” (5). This time doesn’t have to be spent on the same activity. You can engage with multiple kinds of stimulation.


3. If you’re interested, try introducing sex toys such as vibrators or dick rings to your sex sessions.


4. Talk with your partner about what does and does not work for you. Communication is key, and is a skill you can practice and improve on.


5. Try to establish general comfort with your partner. The fewer insecurities or stressors in the way, the easier it is to create natural intimacy


6. Focus on the right spots that work for you. Some studies claim that the top left area of the clitoris — think of where the 1 o’clock spot would be on a clock — is the most sensitive, but you know your body best.


Male Orgasm

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If you have a penis and want to intensify your orgasms, you can include the use of sex toys in sex sessions. You can also try targeting the prostate, which will give you a different type of stimulation than typical penile stimulation. You can access this region through the anus. 


If this makes you uncomfortable, you can also try to stimulate the “p-spot,” also known as the perineum or taint. This is right between the balls and anus. Applying pressure to this area with a finger or hand placement can result in a pleasant sensation. Pressing on the testicles before ejaculation can also cause increased pleasure (6), as can delayed satisfaction, such as edging or the use of drawn-out foreplay.


Refractory Period

This is the time men typically need after an orgasm to get another erection. If someone is in their early teens and 20s, this process usually takes anywhere from five to 15 minutes. In older years, it’s normal for this process to take an hour or more.


The Difference Between Ejaculation vs. Orgasm

Men can have multiple orgasms within seconds or minutes of each other. This typically includes one orgasm that is separated from ejaculation. This process is a learned technique that often requires tantric practice, or a meditative form of sex that focuses less on the orgasm and more about the sensations.


Orgasm Trouble

While men, on average, have an easier time reaching an orgasm, there can still be complications. Men who have trouble orgasming can try acknowledging stress, connecting emotionally with their partner, and switching up their stimulation sources. If the problems continue, talk to your doctor about ejaculation disorders, which are  the most common type of sexual disorder in men, as well as depression or low levels of testosterone..




1. Freud S. New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. New York: Norton; 1933.

2. The Sex Issue: Everything You've Always Wanted to Know about Sexuality, Seduction, and Desire. Grand Central Life & Style, 2018.

3. Flam, Faye. “Female Orgasm: from Freud to Lloyd.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 25 Oct. 2005,

4. Kolod, Susan. “7 Things About Sex and Love That Sigmund Freud Nailed.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,

5. Mintz, L. (2017). Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters--and how to Get it. HarperCollins.

6. “11 Ways Men Can Make Their Orgasms Better.” Men's Health, Men's Health, 13 May 2019,