First off...we know the female orgasm is a mysterious minx, but like most of her hosts, she wouldn't be so elusive if someone made an effort to learn something about her. Thankfully, a group of researchers from Indiana University took the time to do just that by conducting the "OMGYes Sexual Pleasure Report: Women and Touch." Yes, that's the official name. The team released (word choice) their findings earlier this summer in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy with an article titled "Women’s Sexual Experience With Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results From a U.S. Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94." As that helpfully thorough title clues us in, they anonymously surveyed 1,055 women from the Internet, with ages spanning from "prom princess" to "hip granny," about what they like to go down, down there.
And speaking of below, check there for the nine most useful, and often surprising, takeaways from the participants' compiled responses.
1. There Are Lots of Ways to "Touch"
From slow circles directly on the clitoris to lips "pushed together like a sandwich," women "showed considerable diversity in genital touch preferences," according to the article. The report delineated "touch" with four focuses: location, pressure, shape, and pattern.
Most ladies—around two thirds—favored direct clitoral stimulation, but many also liked touching just off to the sides, just above, or just below.
The 13 response options for "shape" included: "side-to-side, up-and-down, diagonal, circular, tall ovals, wide ovals, pushing/pressing in one spot, pulsating/rapid pushing in one spot, squeezing/pinching, pulling, flicking, tapping, and other." Participants could choose all that applied and input their own.
"The two most commonly preferred shapes or styles of touch, both endorsed by more than half of women, were up-and-down (63.7%) and circular movements (51.6%)," story says, followed by almost a third indicating a preference for side-to-side touch. Forty-one percent of woman prefer just one style, 15% like two, and 16% thumbs-up on three.
While only 1.9%, or 18, of respondents endorsed all 12 specific styles, it's quite possible many others just hadn't experienced them all. HINT: If you just noticed a few on the list that you've never given a trial-run, you should do that. Go on! We'll wait.
2. A Little Pressure Is a Good Thing
Welcome back! Too much pressure in the bedroom causes performance anxiety, so if you're sharing this article with your sexual partner, we hope you've let the person know you don't expect him or her to memorize everything immediately. Now that we've relieved that stress, let's discuss the amount of force that should be applied to vaginal touching.
The majority approved of light- or medium-pressure touch on their vulva. A light brushing over the clitoris without applying pressure at all was another popular preference. Most women said they only really like one level of pressure. Just around 16% said that all pressures of touch feel equally good, and only about 1 in 10 women wanted firm pressure. Are lovers pushing too hard or not hard enough ? Use your words, yo—and maybe demonstrate on a their palm.
3. Long-lasting Sex Doesn't Necessarily Lead to Better Orgasms
Praise be, quickie-lovers! Survey says, "Fewer than one in five American women indicated that 'sex that lasts a long time' made orgasms feel better." If your arrival times are earlier than most, it would seem you're not missing out.
4. Only Fools Rush In
Curious what does take orgasms to a whole other level? Women said their best orgasms happen when they "don't feel rushed" and their partners "spend time on the build-up." Furthermore, two-thirds of the polled reported delaying orgasm was a "pleasurable technique."
If you're wanting ways to strategically halt your mounting activities—women said their partners will stop all stimulation before starting again, touch less sensitive areas, go back and forth between intense and less-intense motions, or simply slow down movements altogether.
One more interesting note: a little fewer than half of the women reported multiple orgasms during sex. And in order to achieve that second coming, 33.5% said that "what felt best after their first orgasm was to continue with the same kind of stimulation, 53.3% indicated returning to earlier kinds of stimulation to 'rebuild,' and 32.8% said that what felt best was a completely different kind of stimulation from what was used to reach the first orgasm. "
5. Better Friends Have Better Orgasms
Aw, this bit is scientifically-verified and cute. As stated above, most women admitted that some orgasms feel better than others, around 78% in this particular survey. More than half of those women felt that "partner familiarity, having a partner who knows what they like, and emotional intimacy" were key essentials for better climaxes. It's probably only a matter of time until someone patents a "BFFO"—Best Friends For Orgasms—jewelry line. You heard it here first.
6. Most Women Don't Come Solely Through Intercourse (Fewer Than One in Five Women)
Sigmund Freud had a since-debunked theory way back in the day suggesting that vaginal orgasms are more "mature" than clitoral orgasms, and these findings are calling BS once again.
Fewer than one in five women, roughly 18%, reported that vaginal penetration alone during intercourse was sufficient for orgasm. And of those women who can experience release from penetration alone, over half do so infrequently. Without some clitoral action, they reported orgasming 50% of the time or less. Which brings us to lucky lesson number seven...
7. You Can't Over-Cherish the Clitoris
For nearly three quarters of women, that is for every THREE out of FOUR of these females surveyed, clitoral stimulation during penetration was either necessary for orgasm or made their orgasms feel better (the math looks like this: Around 37% of intercourse-experienced women reported needing clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm during intercourse plus another 36% said they didn't need it, but adding clitoris-care enhanced their orgasms). In fact, significantly more women, 43%, said they come at least 75% of the time during penile-vaginal intercourse with additional clitoral stimulation. Those are pretty good odds, friends.
"These results indicate that, for many women, clitoral stimulation during penetration is impactful on orgasm frequency, quality, or both," the article claims, "which has implications for assisting couples who seek advice on improving their sex life, given the importance of orgasm consistency in overall sexual satisfaction." This is a fancy way of saying, "Did you know that the clitoris is a holy, sacred thing?"
8.) The Rhythm of the Night Varies The "pattern" of touch really refers to an interplay of the other three—location, pressure, and shape. The four most commonly selected rhythms, meaning they were a-okayed by more than 75% of respondents, included rhythmic motion, a motion that circles around the clitoris, switching between different types of motions, and switching between more and less intense touch. Like with a good song, the rhythm should be dependable, but unafraid of switching things up.
9. E-XXX-ploration is Encouraged
As we've not-so-subtly suggested throughout all of these teachings, the importance of research such as this is its real-life application. Women should always be investigating what feels good to them, and then consequently dispersing the knowledge.
As the article notes, "Overall, results demonstrated substantial variability among American women's preferences, and while some kinds of genital touching or stimulation were more often preferred than others, most women endorsed a narrow range of touch techniques, underscoring the value of partner communication to sexual pleasure and satisfaction." So, we'll say it for the millionth time: communicate.
The industry speak of the journal piece also points out its professional implications: "An understanding of the variability in how women experience genital touching can inform the work of sexual health educators and clinicians who might then anticipate common experiences or concerns among women, recognize and validate less common experiences among clients, and encourage straightforward, detailed, and comfortable language for talking about sexual pleasure and exploration."
We definitely recognize the medical importance, but we also refuse to let it take a backseat to the female pursuit of sexual pleasure—unless this is a literal metaphor and you're into car sex. So sure, view this study as a wonderful tool for public healthy policy, but also as a helpful guide for you and your partner and the exploring you have to do.
"These findings suggest that encouraging clients to develop a more specific vocabulary for discussing and labeling their preferences could empower them to better explore and convey to partners what feels good to them," the discussion section highlights. "Indeed, use of more specific and comfortable terms when talking about sex has implications for couples’ happiness and closeness."
Hopefully the four dimensions—location, pressure, shape/style, and patterns—addressed here will improve you and your partner's vocabulary and direction, inspiring concrete ideas for experimentation. I guarantee at least one person is anxious to try that "sandwich" technique. Please report back.