6 Ways Men Can Close The Orgasm Gap In Their Relationships
Stop trying to track how many orgasms you’re both having, and start exploring how to have a good time.
Whether it’s about who makes the most money or who spends the most time with the kids, it’s generally a bad idea to keep score with your partner. But when it comes to having sex, it’s hard not to notice when you’re winning one of the few games you’d rather tie. And even if you aren’t tracking the exact number of orgasms between the two of you (please don't do that), the stats unfortunately speak for themselves: The orgasm gap is real.
According to a study of more than 50,000 men and women, 95% of heterosexual men reported usually or always having an orgasm during sex, compared to 65% of heterosexual women. Homosexual women on the other hand, said they orgasmed 86% of the time, indicating that straight men are more than likely part of the problem.
Paradoxically, the best way to handle what experts refer to as the orgasm gap is by not trying so hard to close it. Or as sexologist Carol Queen says, “Plenty of women feel really anxious about their ability or inability to reach orgasm when they want to or when their partner expects it.” That anxiety can make it even more difficult for women to climax.
Not to mention that when you’re a busy parent with limited time for intimacy, there can be even more pressure for moms to climax in a limited period of time. Studies show that stress during the first year of parenthood impacts sexual satisfaction for women, but not men.
Sex and relationship therapist Katie Nick agrees. “The irony is that the more anxious one or both people feel about the female partner having an orgasm, the less likely she is to actually orgasm. Slowing down and focusing on pleasure is definitely a better strategy — and also a more mutual one.”
So what’s a man to do? Here, Nick and Queen share six tips for how men can close the pleasure gap in their own relationships — without making matters worse by stressing out about it.
1. Give Her More Time Than You Think She Needs
It takes men about five to seven minutes on average to have an orgasm, research reveals. And yet it can take about 20 to 30 minutes for the erectile tissue in the “clitoral network” to fill up with blood in the same way, Nick says. Consequently, “cutting sex short is a lot like if a man tried to orgasm without even allowing himself to get fully hard.”
As much as this extra time may include foreplay, Queen prefers to think of this type of intimacy as “arousal activities, or just sex.” After all, penetration doesn’t have to be the end goal. “Calling oral and manual kinds of sex ‘foreplay’ implies that there is something more important that follows,” Queen says. “Lots of people believe this, and many of them have sexual issues as a result.”
Once you start looking at sex in a more multifaceted way, like Queen describes, you’ll have many more options for filling 20 minutes without putting more pressure on yourself to perform that long. The real challenge will be carving out the time.
2. Help Out Around The House
If you want to give your partner more time to enjoy herself in the bedroom, taking a few tasks off of her plate can help ensure she isn’t thinking about laundry when you’re fooling around. So it may not be a coincidence that men who help out with chores have better sex, research shows.
“Doing it all can be literally fatiguing, and fatigue is an enemy of pleasure,” Queen says.
Taking on more of the housework is less transactional than doing dishes in exchange for sex, but more about making your partner feel considered by noticing all of the work they do to keep your family functioning. Have more frequent discussions about dividing tasks. Pay more attention to the mental load.
“Few people, but especially few women, want to have sex with someone they don’t think cares much about them,” Nick says. But for a guy who pulls his weight around the house, “There’s a cascade of sexual satisfaction from there.”
3. Try A Little Weed
In states where it’s legal, cannabis may be the closest equivalent to viagra for women. Studies show weed can reduce anxiety related to sex, as well as act as a muscle relaxer, “potentially close the orgasm inequality gap,” researchers wrote in a recent study.
“Cannabis can help relax us and get us out of our heads,” Queen confirms. “It can profoundly affect sensate focus — our ability to really be in our bodies and experience powerful sensations via touch.”
That said, as a sexologist and not a psychiatrist or physician, she is reluctant to recommend cannabis to clients directly. However, if someone is already prescribed weed from their doctor, the more power to them. But like with alcohol, it’s important to not overdo it, or not think you “need to be ‘medicated’ to enjoy sex,” Queen says
So, if you’re looking for a way to spice things up every so often, whether it’s in flower, edible, or even lube form, cannabis can open up a lot of options for how to do this — options that should always be locked away in a childproof box.
4. Do Your Homework
Pleasing your partner in ways that may not be in your wheelhouse can be challenging, but it’s harder for guys who aren’t willing to do their research. For starters, Nick recommends expert-driven books such as Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, She Comes First by Ian Kerner, and Sexual Intelligence by Marty Klein.
Ultimately, satisfying your partner is like growing tomatoes. “You wouldn’t just go outside and wing it. You would read a few articles or watch a few videos and then test out that new information,” Nick says. “One of the worst things anyone can do when it comes to making sex more enjoyable is refusing to learn.”
Don’t be too proud to learn something new, or to call for backup…
5. Keep An Open Mind About Sex Toys
As much as sex toys have been found to increase sexual satisfaction in the bedroom for women, the opposite seems to be true for men. There is evidence that sex toy use among heterosexual men is linked with lower levels of sexual satisfaction.
Queen, who is the staff sexologist for Good Vibes, a sex toy retailer that advocates for gender equality, sex positivity, and sex education, suspects that men may have physical insecurities related to their ability to compete with toys. But more often than not, men who are averse to toys are misunderstanding women’s anatomy and overall psyche. “Learning to value her pleasure whether it derives from him or a toy is related to fully valuing her, but also to more thoroughly understanding sex,” she says.
In other words, if you can use a tool to hang a shelf, you can use one to close the orgasm gap.
6. Have More Fun
People have sex for a variety of reasons, whether it’s for reconnecting as a couple, blowing off some steam, or having another baby. But if you want your partner to experience more pleasure during sex, regardless of why you’re having it, you need to have more fun. That’s one of the first questions Nick asks couples who come into her office with intimacy issues: “How much fun are you having during sex?”
“Culturally, we often treat sex like a symbol of success, but it’s supposed to be a good time,” Nick says.
In the end, the orgasm gap is not a reason to panic or get insecure, but a reminder to have more fun in the bedroom. Taken that way, it’s probably one of the most enjoyable challenges on your plate right now.