The Orgasm Gap: Are Women Faking It?

BlogHer Original Post

Remember the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally? Harry swears that all his girlfriends are having O-O-Orgasms during sex and Sally questions his bravado. She wonders how he’s so sure his girlfriends aren’t just faking it. He insists he would know. Sally then delivers an orgasmic performance that made cinematic history.


Oh- oh- oh yeah, baby.

Turns out Sally knew what she was talking about, and way more women fake it than you may think. A new survey of almost 6,000 men and women published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 85 percent of dudes said their partners climaxed during the most recent sex act. But psych! Only 64 percent of women reported that they actually got off. What’s with that?

Why The Orgasm Gap?

Why does this happen? Why are we women giving our partners false encouragement? How many guys do you know who pretend to get off to please a partner? I don’t think so. No -- if a guy needs more stimulation, he’s likely to tell you so. But what about us? Are we so accustomed to pleasing others that we’re not taking responsibility for our own needs? Or is it something else? Are we so tired from doing the dishes, doing the laundry, and doing our lover that we’d just rather get some shut-eye than take the time to get truly turned on?

What’s Up Down There?

Or could it be something even deeper. Right now, I’m on a book tour for my new book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend Just today alone, I got these questions:

  • What does an orgasm feel like?
  • How do I know if I’ve had an orgasm?
  • My boyfriend is bummed if I don’t look like I’m having fun, but sex hurts me. What should I do?
  • I don’t really know what I like in bed. How can I find out?

What this tells me is that many of us honestly don’t know what gives us pleasure. Many of us don’t even know what an orgasm IS! And yet we feel pressure from our partners who want to please us -- perhaps partly because they really care and maybe in part because it boosts their ego. So what do we do? Apparently, many of us do what Sally did. And most guys can’t tell the difference.

How Can We Close The Orgasm Gap?

We gals deserve to experience as much pleasure as the guys do, don’t we? So if you’re one of those women faking it, what can you do to get off for real?

orgasm hand

A few tips:

1. Discover what gives you pleasure by yourself. Try touching yourself and figuring out what feels good. Is it sex toys? Soft fingers? Do you like having your clitoris rubbed in circles? Or does vaginal stimulation do it for you? How can you expect anyone else to get you off if you don’t know how to do it yourself? Go on a mission and find your own O-O-O!

2. Don’t feel shy about teaching your partner what you like. After you’ve figured it out, demonstrate! You’d be amazed how your lover will get turned on by seeing you touch yourself.

3. Stop faking it! Every time you do, you’re giving your partner positive feedback for behavior that’s not doing it for you. And you’re missing the opportunity to express your needs and get them met. Be gentle and loving, but be authentic and truthful. If it feels good but just isn’t getting you all the way, say so! You have every much right to the pursuit of pleasure as your lover.

4. Schedule sex dates. If you’re faking it because you’re tired, in a hurry, and it takes some time to get your juices flowing, schedule time for slow, sensuous sex.

5. Don’t be afraid to just BE YOU. Remember, YOU are enough. You don’t have to live up to some media image of what a woman in bed looks like, feels like, or behaves like. Your lover wants to be with you. Be authentic in bed.

What do you think about all this? Do you ever fake it? What makes you do it when you do? Do you feel like your needs are met in bed? What one step might you take to make sure you get off when you want to? Is the intimacy of sex enough for you even if you don’t orgasm? Tell us how you feel!

Oh-oh-oh so happy to be talking about this!


Dr. Lissa Rankin

Want to chat more about this juicy subject live and in person? Come chat with other women at one of my Ask The Girlfriend Gyno book tour talks in your neck of the woods.

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