When we become educated about female pleasure anatomy, the reasons for the persistence of the female orgasm gap begin to make more sense. It becomes clear that there is nothing lacking in a woman’s capacity for orgasm but rather that the sexual norms are constructed with male anatomy and pleasure as the priority. Once this is understood, the solutions to close the female orgasm gap become more straightforward. One of the barriers to mutual pleasure is that the timing and order in which sex proceeds often doesn’t capitalize on the differences in male and female pleasure anatomy.
Most women have had the frustrating experience of laying in bed next to a satisfied, post-orgasmic sleeping male, while they remain wide awake, their bodies still in a heightened state of arousal, with no resolution and no hope of sleep. Over time, this sexual satisfaction mismatch can lead to many things, including a perceived low libido and lack of desire for sex, a feeling that your pleasure is less valued than your partners, or even worse an idea that your body is somehow faulty. One simple solution to minimize sexual encounters where only men enjoy orgasm, is to employ a “ladies first” approach to sex, where men postpone their orgasm until their partner has one.
Keeping in mind some basic facts, it’s clear why a ladies first approach provides a context where mutual pleasure is most easily achieved. Let’s take a minute to recap:
1) Less than a third of women orgasm from penetration alone whereas men have orgasmic inevitably once penetrative sex starts.
2) Women require female erections for truly satisfying penetrative sex.
3) Women are easily capable of multiple orgasms whereas men have long refractory periods which make multiple orgasms difficult.
Logically, if mutual pleasure is the goal, it makes sense to craft the order and timing of sexual activities with these differences in mind.
Sex therapist, Ian Kerner, wrote a whole book on this timing issue called, She Comes First. Kerner delves into the orgasm gap and female pleasure anatomy which leads him to the conclusion that it’s logical for men to postpone their orgasms and to focus on female orgasm first. In his book, he cites a study from Kinsey and Masters and Johnson, which found that among women whose partners, spent twenty-one minutes or longer on foreplay, only 7.7 percent did not reach orgasm consistently. This simple emphasis on female-centric “foreplay” (manual and oral stimulation), drastically closed the orgasm gap. Kerner advocates for renaming foreplay “coreplay” so that clitoris-focused activities, like manual and oral sex, are put in their rightful place, as complete events on their own rather than a precursor to the main event (intercourse).
As an additional benefit, by orgasming prior to penetration (or at least reaching a state of high arousal), the woman establishes an erection prior to the possibility of penetration, making intercourse much more pleasurable if it happens. As stated above, focusing on female orgasm first, also provides a context to take advantage of her body's ability to have multiple orgasms. Kerner discusses the multi-orgasmic potential of women by saying “More women don’t experience their second or third orgasm with men for the same reason that many don’t experience their first--they’re not receiving appropriate clitoral stimulation and male gratification is not postponed.”
Another welcome benefit of a ladies first approach is potentially less performance anxiety for men. Many men feel a sense of performance pressure if they’ve internalized that their size and stamina during intercourse are the main correlates of being a good lover. This belief is a side effect of a culture that is clitoris illiterate and has glorified penetration. It was Kerner’s own struggles with premature ejaculation that led him to study female pleasure anatomy and to adopt his “she comes first” approach. The impact issues like premature ejaculation have on mutual enjoyment of sex can be drastically reduced if men realize that intercourse isn’t the most reliable pathway for female orgasm anyway. So, rather than feeling pressured to maintain their erection and prolong penetration for longer in order to bring a woman to orgasm, men can redirect their efforts to clitoral focused activities and satisfy women regardless. If more men realized the pleasure they could give women through their mouths and fingers alone, they’d relax and enjoy the opportunity to expand their repertoire. When intercourse is no longer the main event but rather one option available among many pleasurable activities, suddenly, performance pressure for men significantly recedes.
With sex, like many other things, it seems that timing is everything. And a ladies first approach, is one that capitalizes on the differences in male and female physiology in the most logical, mutually satisfying way.
Up Next: Solo Sex: The Power of Owning Your Orgasm!
*I want to be clear that my intention with these articles is not to imply that orgasm is the ultimate goal of sex or put any pressure on women to have orgasms. In my view, orgasm isn’t the goal of sex but rather mutual pleasure. Instead, my goal with this series is simply to encourage a context where female orgasm is more viable and accessible and placed in equal importance as male orgasm.