The Female Sexual Arousal and Orgasm Cycle Explored

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Frequency of Orgasm During Sex with a Partner

Survey Results: Jane Magazine
June-July 2004 (Data from 2011 is presented below)

Based on 2,137 responses to an online poll, this is what their readers had to say about their frequency of experiencing orgasm during sex:

I have an orgasm (or five) every time I have sex - 43%
I've had "the moment" a few times - 38%
Still waiting for that one - 19%

Their readers' comments:

"It's happened twice to me. But if you ask my boyfriend, it happens every night."
- Savana, 18, Niagara Falls, NY
"Not intercourse, but all the time in outercourse."
- Lola, 28, Merced, Calif.
"Only if one of us is double-clicking the mouse."
- Christen, 21, Leola, Pa.

Photograph of Nude Asian Woman

To be honest, I am surprised 43% reported experiencing orgasm every time they experience sex, which for some could be masturbation, but on the other hand, the 19% who have not experienced orgasm exceeds the 10% commonly reported. I suspect Jane magazine has a young readership, which may explain a better success rate during sex with a partner, and higher than expected pre-orgasmic rate.

Many young women don't learn to masturbate to orgasm until their late teens or early twenties, often times after being sexually active with a partner for several years. Young men today have access to the Internet, which may provide some enlightenment on how to pleasure a woman, versus prior generations, who acquired their sexual knowledge from locker room conversations and Penthouse Forum, and similar magazines.

The 38% of women who experience orgasm irregularly, and some of the 19% who have never experienced orgasm, may have inexperienced sexual partners, and/or experience the reality that every woman isn't going to be in the mood, or able to experience orgasm, every day of her life, which brings the 43% into question, but perhaps this later group only participates in sex when they are in the mood, or they are always in the mood, being young and all. Overall, the data and comments provide some insight into how varied women's experiences with orgasm really are. One size does not fit all.

"[A]mong 3,237 respondents aged 18-26 years in heterosexual relationships of >= 3-month duration...Men were more likely than women to report having orgasms most or all the time: 87% versus 47%. A total of 15% of young women reported having orgasms less than half the time or never, whereas only 2.6% of young men reported having orgasms with that regularity."

Regularity of Orgasm
Most or all the time
More than half the time
Half the time
Less than half the time
Never or almost never
Number of Survey Participants
Data Source

The above statistics are for residents of the U.S., statistics for residents of Australia are available. The Australian data includes information on teenagers, age sixteen to nineteen.

Survey results published in 2015

Our surveys provide additional insight into the female sexual experience.

A Complex Process

Female sexual arousal and orgasm are complex processes involving the entire woman, mind and body.

The brain receives in sexual stimuli from the body, processes it, and based on past learning and experience causes the body to respond to it. The brain may start the sexual arousal process in response to thought, visual stimuli, audible stimulation, olfactory stimuli, taste, and hormonal triggers.

The body may start the arousal process as the result of a woman or her partner touching her genitals, breasts, and other erogenous zones. The mind and body, while able to experience sexual arousal separately, do not experience orgasm independently.

Orgasm requires the mind and body to work together. Mental thought alone may result in orgasm, but you still experience and feel the orgasm in your body. All the sexual stimulation and arousal may originate in one or the other, but orgasm takes place in both.

A Reflex Response at Birth

At birth, we respond to sexual stimulation based on instinct and reflex responses. If we feel safe and our basic material needs are met, we will most likely respond to sexual stimuli very easily. This is perhaps why the simple acts of nursing and exposing the genitals to air results in sexual arousal in infants. At birth we are very sensitive to sexual stimuli, and our minds have not learned "appropriate sexual response," and orgasm is likely controlled more by physical stimuli than mental thought processes. Orgasm may be a purely physical reflex response at birth, as is the case with urination.

A Learned Response in Adulthood

By the time puberty rolls around we have been taught "appropriate" sexual response. We perhaps know that any sexual response is bad. We may have been so isolated from our physical sexual self's that we are not aware of when we are sexually aroused. This is more true of girls than boys, as boys experience a telltale erection, and touch their primary sexual organ several times each day while urinating. Society most often doesn't acknowledge the existence of the female genitals, the vulva and clitoris, nor are girls permitted and encouraged to touch them on a regular basis; it is as if they don't exist. Historically speaking, girls have been desexualized whereas male sexuality has been promoted.

We know what "good girls" and "bad girls" are. We know who a suitable spouse or partner is, even if we do not think of them in overtly sexual terms. Female teens and women may choose a partner based purely on nonsexual criteria, then wonder why sparks don't fly in the bedroom. They may perceive sexual desire and arousal as "being in love." Girls and women may not permit themselves to be in situations that result in their feeling "sexual," if they categorize those feelings as undesirable. They may tune out sexual feelings, denying they occur, or respond so negatively to sexual stimuli that sex with a partner becomes impossible.

There are women who do not have strong negative feelings toward sex, who are openly sexual. They enjoy being sexually aroused, seeking out sexual stimuli freely. They do not care who causes them to feel aroused, they simply enjoy it. Of course, society often views "sexual girls" and "sexual women" negatively, labeling them "sluts" and "whores." In our confused society, the woman who shuns all sexual feelings is considered more "normal" than one who is openly sexual. This statement is less true than it was thirty-forty years ago, but is still true to varying degrees, depending on the society and community you live in. Today, women are permitted to be sexual, but only in a limited number of circumstances, but still, less so than men. In the past, women were expected to remain virginal, today they are expected to be "sexual virgins."

Sexual arousal and orgasm may be mental perceptions rather than physical experiences for women, more so than it is for men, as the result of the greater restrictions placed on them. A man's ability to achieve an erection and ejaculate is a symbol of his manhood, a woman's sexual arousal and sexual enjoyment may be seen as "out of control" and "wanton." This is perhaps why women are often times less orgasmic than men, as one has to speculate both are equally orgasmic at birth.

Much More Than A Physical Response

The traditional view of female sexual arousal, presented below, has focused on the physical changes associated with a woman's genitals and reproductive organs. It was believed that sexual desire led to physical sexual arousal and orgasm. Research has determined sexual desire is not one of the primary reasons why women say they participate in sex. Women were also believed to be acutely aware of the physical changes that occurred in their genitals during sexual arousal. Additional research has shown a low correlation between when a woman perceives she has experienced sexual arousal and when she has experienced the physical changes associated with sexual arousal. Women are not necessarily aware of when vaginal lubrication and blood engorgement of their vulva has occurred.

Our survey indicates the majority of women are very aware of what it feels like to be sexually aroused, but it appears their brain may filter this information out, at times leaving them unaware. A woman's perception of sexual arousal appears to be very much dependent on context, whether her brain believes it is appropriate and desired.

Rather than a simple linear or straightforward concept of female sexual arousal, with a beginning and end, there is now a much more complex circular model, with many possible variables involved. I have created a flowchart that presents this model in a manner that is easier to understand, compared to how it is presented in the medical articles I have on the subject. The flowchart is available in the GIF and JPG file formats.

Click for Female Sexual Arousal Flowchart
Female Sexual Arousal Flowchart - GIF or JPG

Sexual Arousal is an Emotional State

Primarily as a result of being male, I believe, and partly because I don't address sexual aversion disorder in any detail, I've always assumed in my writings that women would respond to sexual stimulation in a physical -sexual- manner, or not at all. In reality, a woman's emotional response to sexual stimulation may include any and all emotional states, and recent evidence is that this emotional response weighs heavily in a woman's overall sexual response and experience. A woman's emotional response appears to control a woman's experience of sex, her perception of sex and sexual pleasure, and whether she experiences sexual arousal, pleasure, and orgasm. A woman's emotional response, and perception of her bodily response to sexual stimuli, may not indicate her true body state, her reflex bodily responses. For women, sex may, at times, be an "out of body" experience. When everything is in harmony, it is a very physical -sexual- experience.

Medical Quote:

Article Title: Physiology of Women's Sexual Function: Basic Knowledge and New Findings

Originally Published: July 2010

"Sexual arousal is an emotional state and, similar to other emotions, it possesses distinct antecedents (e.g., sexual stimuli) and patterns of expression (e.g., psychological, physiological, behavioral) serving to regulate behaviors fundamental to sexual reproduction.

"Moreover, women's experience of sexual arousal is not primarily related to experience of physiological responding [physical sensations resulting from physical sexual arousal] and is mediated by additional cognitive and emotional mechanisms. It is not clear how much appraisal of subjective sexual arousal is influenced by perception of genital responding, or vice versa, but these measures are highly positively correlated in women.

"Therefore, there is a difference between experiencing sexual arousal and perceiving physical changes.

"...[T]he information women use to appraise their emotional state of sexual arousal; women attend more to external, situational cues when appraising their emotional states than men do"


The Physical Changes

Webmaster's Note: The information presented below is primarily based on research published by Masters and Johnson in 1966 and 1986. As a result, it is a little dated. A lot of presumptions were made back then, which haven't turned out to be true of all women. The information presented isn't wrong, simply not all encompassing. In recent years, more attention has been directed at understanding female sexual function, more often than not, from the perspective of dysfunction. The information presented below represents only part of the story, and the truthfulness of the story is still being determined. To acquire a broad understanding of female sexual response, please read through the website, as female sexual response has proven to be much more complex than originally envisioned.

There are two physical changes the body must undergo if a woman is to experience sexual arousal and orgasm. The first is "vasocongestion," the pooling of blood in the breasts and genitals. This results in the breasts and genitals becoming larger, the body feeling warm or hot to the touch, the change in color of the breasts and genitals, areas of the body feeling full, congested, or swollen, and vaginal lubrication. The second is "Myotonia" or "neuromuscular tension," the build up of energy in the nerve endings and muscles of the entire body. Myotonia is the "sexual tension" I refer to in my advice for pre-orgasmic women. Myotonia is not "bad tension" experienced as the result of negative feelings. You may experience strong myotonia as the feeling of fullness or tightness in your body prior to orgasm, the point of no return. Some women when confronted with strong myotonia cannot allow themselves to go over the edge, let go, and hence they do not experience orgasm. Additional information on vasocongestion and myotonia is available from Go Ask Alice.

It should be noted that any disease, medication (prescription and non-prescription), drug, or illness that affects the blood flow, muscles, or nerves can restrict or prevent myotonia and vasocongestion. If you cannot experience myotonia and vasocongestion you may not be able to experience sexual arousal and orgasm. If you have an injury, disease, or illness that directly affects the circulatory, nervous, or muscular systems, you may experience orgasmic impairment. If you have been diagnosed with one of these, please see the health, disability, question and answer sections for more information. If you feel you are not able to experience sexual arousal, or only in a limited way, please seek a doctor's advice.

The Sexual Response Cycle

Three representational variations of female sexual response

"Three representational variations of female sexual response. Pattern 1 shows multiple orgasm; pattern 2 shows arousal that reaches the plateau level without going on to orgasm (note the resolution occurs more slowly); and pattern 3 shows several brief drops in the excitement phase followed by an even more rapid resolution phase."

From the book Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving Page 58. Copyright 1982, 1985, 1986 By William H. Masters, M.D., Virginia E Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny, M.D.

Sexologists have divided the sexual response cycle into four phases, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. (Some include sexual desire as a preceding fifth phase.) These are arbitrary definitions, an individual is not likely to be aware of their body experiencing each distinct phase. The amount of time a person spends in each phase, and even the order in which they experience them, may vary.

A woman on a date may become sexually aroused several times, even without her knowing, without her ever reaching the plateau phase. She may experience arousal and the plateau phase during an intense session of dancing, but return to her un-aroused state during the ride home. Once home she may quickly experience arousal and orgasm, as the result of direct genital stimulation, without experiencing the plateau phase. The manner in which a person experiences each phase is unique to them, and even this will change depending on their mood and other influences.

The Arousal Phase

Female arousal described:

"[A] combination of objective [physical] and subjective [mental] signs; the bodily reactions as vulvar swelling, vaginal lubrication, heavy breathing and increased sensitivity of the genitalia, combined with the subjective experience of feeling pleasure and excitement" Source

Arousal may be accompanied by these physical responses to mental and/or physical stimuli:

  • Vaginal lubrication begins first, within 10-30 seconds.
  • The inner two thirds of the vagina expands.
  • The uterus and cervix are pulled upwards.
  • The labia majora flatten and spread apart.
  • The labia minora increase in size.
  • The clitoris increases in size.
  • The nipples may become erect, as a result of muscle contractions.
  • When highly aroused the breasts may increase in size.
Internal Changes in the Female Sexual Response Cycle
From the book Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving Page 62. Copyright 1982, 1985, 1986 By William H. Masters, M.D., Virginia E Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny, M.D.

Moisture "seeps" from the vaginal walls, as a result of increased blood flow and congestion; a process called "transudation." Small droplets of moisture form, collect together, and seep or flow out of the vagina. This most often, but not always, results in the vulva becoming moist or wet too. The quantity, thickness, and smell of a woman's vaginal lubricant varies between women, and with the same woman depending on many factors, including her current menstrual state, and what she has eaten.

The presence of vaginal lubrication does not indicate a woman is fully prepared for sexual intercourse, nor does its absence indicate she is not sexually aroused. Some women produce very little moisture, and require the application of additional lubrication. (The use of petroleum-based lubricants and "oils" will cause condoms to fail, and possibly result in vaginal infections.) While it may be perfectly normal, if you experience continual vaginal dryness, you should bring this to the attention of your doctor, as it could be an indication of non-sexual health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease in older women.

Some women produce so much moisture they get everything soaking wet, reducing the pleasure they and their partner experience, not to mention causing potential embarrassment when it occurs in a public place. This too is normal, and is the result of normal variations in women's bodies. There is no safe means of decreasing the amount of vaginal lubrication, though several cultures consider a dry vagina desirable during intercourse, and use drying agents; the safety of which is questionable, and likely increases the spread of disease through injury to the vaginal tissues.

Following sexual arousal, the vagina reabsorbs some of this moisture, maintaining a "just moist" environment. [Source]

The Clitoris and Labia in the Female Sexual Response Cycle
From the book Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving Page 66. Copyright 1982, 1985, 1986 By William H. Masters, M.D., Virginia E Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny, M.D.

The Plateau Phase

During the Plateau phase a woman may experience:

  • A marked increase in sexual tension.
  • Increased vasocongestion in the vagina causes the outer third of the vagina to swell, resulting in the vaginal opening decreasing in size, perhaps 30%.
  • The inner two thirds of the vagina balloons out. A woman may experience a strong desire to be filled, a vaginal ache.
  • The amount of vaginal lubrication may decrease during this stage, especially if prolonged.
  • The clitoris becomes increasingly engorged, the glans moves toward the pubic bone, becoming more concealed by the hood.
  • The labia minora increase considerably in thickness, perhaps 2-3 times.
  • The increased size of the inner labia may spread apart the outer labia resulting in the vaginal opening becoming more prominent.
  • The color of the labia minora change considerably. Going from pink to red for women who have not given birth, from bright red to deep wine in women who have. The actual colors may vary, but not the marked change in color.
  • The areola, the pigmented area around the nipples, begin to swell.
  • The breasts may increase in size 20-25%, for women who have not breast-fed a child, for women who have, there is less or no increase in size.
  • 50-70% of women experience a "sex flush" on their chests and other body areas resulting from increased blood flow near the surface of the skin.
  • The heart rate increases, perhaps beating noticeably.
  • There is a marked increase in the amount of sexual tension in the thighs and buttocks.
  • A woman's body is now fully ready for vaginal intercourse.

Masters and Johnson report they never observed a woman experience orgasm who did not first experience the dramatic change in labial coloration. If a woman did experience this color change, she was more than likely to experience orgasm; based on their small sample of women.

If you consider all the physical changes associated with the internal and external sexual organs, you can see women are not fully prepared for intercourse until late in the plateau phase. A woman's body signals her readiness by opening up her vulva, exposing her vaginal opening. Vaginal wetness alone does not indicate readiness. This perhaps indicates that women require romance and prolonged foreplay prior to vaginal intercourse(*).

Breast Changes in the Female Sexual Response Cycle
From the book Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving Page 67. Copyright 1982, 1985, 1986 By William H. Masters, M.D., Virginia E Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny, M.D.

The Orgasmic Phase

Female orgasm described:

"[A] variable, transient peak sensation of intense pleasure, creating an altered state of consciousness, usually accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic striated [voluntary] circumvaginal musculature, with concomitant [at same time] uterine and anal contractions and myotonia that resolves the sexually induced vasocongestion (sometimes only partially), usually with an induction of well-being and contentment". Source

During the Orgasmic phase a woman may experience:

  • Rhythmic muscle contractions occur in the outer third of the vagina, the uterus, and anus. The first muscle contractions are the most intense, and occur at a rate of a little more than 1 per second (0.8 seconds). As the orgasm continues, the contractions become less intense, and occur at a more random rate. A mild orgasm may have 3-5 contractions, an intense one 10-15.
  • The "sex flush" becomes even more pronounced, and may cover a greater percentage of the body.
  • Muscles throughout the body may contract during orgasm, not just those in the pelvic region.
  • Orgasm also takes place in the brain, as indicated by monitoring brain waves.
  • Some women will emit or spray fluid from their urethra during orgasm, and this is commonly referred to as female ejaculation.
  • Myotonia may be evident throughout the body, especially in the face, hands, and feet. A woman's facial expression may indicate that she is in pain, rather than experiencing a pleasurable orgasm.
  • At the peak of orgasm the entire body may become momentarily rigid.

What Does an Orgasm Feel Like?

Women who have never experienced orgasm, and those who are not sure if they have, often ask, "What does an orgasm feel like?" This is a hard, if not impossible, question to answer. Imagine trying to explain to someone what it feels like to sneeze or yawn. Not easy to do. How our senses and brain interpret physical stimuli is subjective, that is dependent solely on the individual's mental perceptions. While we can measure the physical stimuli, we cannot measure how a person perceives it.

Even if a woman is attached to monitoring equipment while she is experiencing 15 strong orgasmic contractions, over a 10 second period of time, how do we know she experiences it more intensely than another woman, who experiences a 5 contraction orgasm lasting 4 seconds? The woman having the ten-second orgasm may be wondering why her orgasms are so weak! If a woman has experienced nerve damage she may not be able to tell if she has experienced orgasm.

Here is Masters and Johnson's description of female orgasm:

"Women often describe the sensations of an orgasm as beginning with a momentary sense of suspension, quickly followed by an intensely pleasurable feeling that usually begins at the clitoris and rapidly spreads throughout the pelvis. The physical sensations of the genitals are often described as warm, electric, or tingly, and these usually spread through the body. Finally, most women feel muscle contractions in their vagina or lower pelvis, often described as "pelvic throbbing.""

An animation showing the contraction of the pelvic muscles is available here (1.5 meg).

Types of Orgasms

While all orgasms are organically the same, varying only in strength and length, a woman may not experience (perceive) them as such. How a woman experiences orgasm during masturbation is often totally different from how she experiences them during sex with a partner. In fact, women often report their most "satisfying" orgasms occur during masturbation, perhaps because they are then the center of attention, and not worrying about or distracted by a partner.

A woman may experience orgasm differently if her vagina is empty rather than when a penis or fingers are inserted. She may be more aware of her vaginal contractions when her vagina has something to clamp down on, or when it is empty and contracts on itself. Women experience total body orgasms, clitoral orgasms, vaginal orgasms, uterine orgasms, as well as a long list of other types of orgasms. While electronic gadgets may say they are all the same, women will beg to differ.

Vaginal Orgasm

Masters and Johnson, and others, believe all healthy women are capable of experiencing orgasm while being stimulated by vaginal intercourse alone, because the thrusting penis will push and pull on the inner labia, resulting in indirect stimulation of the clitoris. Other sexologists do not agree with this hypotheses. While it may be technically possible, surveys continually indicate this isn't a reality for many women, especially on a regular basis.

If women's masturbation habits are any indication, vaginal stimulation alone is less likely to result in orgasm than activities that directly stimulate their clitoris. Ninety percent of women masturbate by stimulating their clitoris, ten percent are reported to stimulate only their vagina. (Several teens and women have mentioned how vaginal stimulation alone, during masturbation, wasn't pleasurable for them, even though they initially believed it was the "proper" method of masturbation, as it simulated "sex.") Is it reasonable to believe women masturbate in any way other than what works best? Even if a woman's clitoris was not her primary sensory sex organ, habit alone may dictate that she is most orgasmic during clitoral stimulation.

As I mention above, a woman's body is not fully prepared for intercourse until she is highly aroused, and at the plateau phase. If a woman is highly aroused then it seems possible that indirect simulation of her clitoris, combined with vaginal stimulation, could result in orgasm. If there is a strong emotional bond between a woman and her partner, that psychological stimulation alone may result in an orgasm. The same may not be said of a woman who tries to go from a low degree of sexual arousal all the way to orgasm, by means of indirect clitoral combined with direct vaginal stimulation. If a woman's vagina is insensitive to penile thrusting, she may find indirect stimulation of her clitoris alone is not enough to push her over the edge, even if she is highly aroused.

Multiple Orgasms

If a woman experiences one orgasm, she may be able to experience additional orgasms during the same sexual experience, as long as adequate stimulation continues. Practice seems to make this more likely, as the more sexual a woman is, the more sexual she can be. Though for some, it appears to occur without effort or expectation. Our surveys indicate multiple orgasms, at least during masturbation, aren't as common as the media and porn may indicate.

We have two additional surveys, one that asks women how many orgasms they have experienced during up to one hour of sexual stimulation, and a second that asks how often they experience one orgasm within a minute of another. Fifty-eight percent indicate they have experienced an orgasm within a minute of another orgasm. These two surveys don't tell us if these orgasms were experienced during masturbation or sex with a partner.

The clitoris may be extremely sensitive after the first orgasm, requiring very light or indirect stimulation. A woman may need only to slip a little ways away from the point of orgasm, becomes less aroused, before she can have another. In this case, deep breathing may help a woman recover more quickly, enabling her to move onto her next orgasm.

Many multiple orgasms occur during masturbation, as there is nothing or no one to distract a woman from her pleasure, and a vibrator may be utilized. An electric vibrator does not get tired, unlike a woman's own hand, or that of her partner. A male partner who has himself experienced orgasm, may find himself incapable of continuing his stimulation of his partner, as a result of the chemicals released following orgasm.

The Resolution Phase

During the Resolution phase a woman may experience:

  • If sexual stimulation continues, a woman may experience one or more additional orgasms.
  • The vagina, and vaginal opening, return to their normal relaxed state.
  • The breasts, labia, clitoris, and uterus return to their normal size, position, and color.
  • The clitoris and nipples may be so sensitive that any stimulation may be uncomfortable.
  • The "sex flush" disappears.
  • There may be heavy sweating, and breathing.
  • The heart may beat rapidly.
  • If orgasm does not occur, a woman will still experience most of what is listed above, but at a much slower rate. The blood trapped in the pelvic organs, not having been dissipated by orgasmic muscle contractions, may result in a feeling of heaviness, and pelvic discomfort.

Are Orgasm Necessary?

Is orgasm necessary for female sexual happiness? While it is true that there are millions of women who have lived happy and fulfilling lives having never experienced orgasm, their lives probably would have been more enjoyable if they had. Orgasm is a normal bodily function. If a woman does not experience orgasm, she may find herself feeling very uncomfortable after sex, because of the excess blood trapped in her pelvic organs. (In our survey, 54% experience discomfort, 75% feel frustrated.) Some report, women develop back pains and other health problems as a result of this unreleased sexual tension. Doctors in the past used genital massage and vibrators to bring their female patients to orgasm, as a means of treating female health problems. While orgasm is not necessary for female happiness, it does make life more enjoyable.

Balancing the Desire for Orgasm

For women who are pre-orgasmic, and for those who experience orgasm only with difficulty, achieving a balance between their desire for orgasm, and their sexual happiness, can be a challenge. Lets face it, there is a lot of social pressure on women to experience orgasm. The mass media is full of references to the joys of orgasm. Women want to experience orgasm not only for their own benefit, but to make their partner happy, and to be like their peers, or at least their perception of their peers. To a certain extent, orgasm has become a chore, versus a simple pleasure, for many women. When women try too hard to achieve orgasm, sex becomes unpleasant and frustrating, a task, for them and their partner. If you become too preoccupied with the mechanics of orgasm, you can loose out on the intimacy of sex. The focus of fulfilling sex should never be orgasm, orgasm is only one small part of a healthy and balanced sexual relationship.

Faking Orgasm

Faking orgasm is definitely a bad idea. What starts out as a means of saving face in front of a new partner, or as a means of giving a partner a morale boost, usually ends up being a permanent way of life. When a woman experiences orgasm, real or faked, she is indicating to her partner that they have done a good job, that they do not need to do anything differently next time. A woman who fakes orgasm is telling her partner that they do not need to change their sexual technique, which is perhaps totally opposite of what she should be telling them. Women who fake orgasm face becoming so frustrated by their inability to orgasm, and their partner's lack of skill, they soon find themselves avoiding sex altogether.

Women tend to blame themselves for everything that goes wrong in a relationship, so their inability to orgasm is seen as their fault, so they make the sacrifice. After faking orgasm for a period of time, women are afraid to tell their partner, fearing it will upset them, so they don't. When you have faked orgasm, and decide to tell your partner, you have to admit not only to not having had orgasms, but also to lying to your partner, to hiding something from them, and to fooling them. The barrier to telling your partner the truth increases with each faked orgasm.

Faking Orgasm - Glamour Magazine - October 2000
Newer Statistics are Presented Below

Based on 1,500 responses to an online poll at

In response to the question, "How often do you fake orgasm?" the women responded:

I never fake it - 45%
1%-25% of the time - 34%
26%-50% of the time - 10%
51%-75% of the time - 7%
76%-100% of the time - 4%

When fifty-five percent of women admit to doing something they are not suppose to be doing, that is fake orgasm, it indicates a serious problem. In this case, the problem is that society is leading women to believe they should always have an orgasm, and that there are negative consequences when they do not. An orgasm is no longer simply an orgasm. Orgasm has become the benchmark by which we measure the quality of our sexuality, and even our social standing within our community. Society leads us to believe "normal" women always have orgasms, and her "caring partner" always stimulates her to orgasm. In the past, we ignored female orgasm, today we perhaps place too much emphasis on it. It is important for women to realize this is a social problem, not a personal one. No woman is going to have an orgasm every time she experiences sex with a partner, or even masturbation. This is just the way it is. Making orgasm the sole goal of sex can actually make sex less enjoyable, and possibly boring, if not extremely frustrating.

Note 2011: Our surveys indicate 51%-54% of site visitors, who have experienced sex with a partner, have faked orgasm at least once.

December 2011: CNN Online Article - When is a woman more likely to fake it? Exploring the why, and why you shouldn't.

Published October 18, 1998