Ever heard of “the orgasm gap”? If not, let me explain: when a rigorous 2016 study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, analysed the sex lives of around 53,000 adults in the US, it found that 95 percent of heterosexual men reported that they usually or always orgasmed during sex, while 65 percent of heterosexual women reported the same. That 30 percent difference is what has been commonly dubbed: “the orgasm gap”.
I know what some of you are thinking: maybe cis men just find it easier to come? Nope, that doesn't hold up either. In the same study, it was found that 86 percent of lesbian women reported that they usually or always orgasmed during sex. This means that there's a 21 percent gap between lesbians and straight women. I think we can all join the dots here. Either straight men find it harder to make women come or, more generously, queer women are just really good at it.
There are probably plenty of reasons for this gap – some of them simple, others complex. If you're a lesbian with a vulva, for instance, it makes sense that you'd instinctively know what to do with someone else's. Experts have also suggested that mainstream straight porn – with its minimal foreplay, constant pumping and screaming vaginal orgasms – doesn't do anyone any favours when it comes to guidelines. But I'm not here to underline anyone's shortcomings. Instead I'm here to ask my fellow lesbians to charitably share their skills with others. So, what do lesbians say when it comes to making other women come?
“Orgasms are pretty psychological, I think,” says 27-year-old Charlie, “so my most important piece of advice would be to make sure both of you are comfortable and feeling open. Create a relaxed and sexy environment in which you can both let yourself go, properly rather than performatively. Foreplay is also very important. Unless someone is insanely aroused – which I can be when I'm on my period – you're not going to make someone orgasm in a few seconds. There needs to be some build up. Not just physically, but psychologically as well.”
Charlie's not wrong. Sex isn't a relay race and it's fine – beneficial even! – to take your time. “Ironically, I think taking the pressure off to orgasm can make orgasms more likely!” 25-year-old Beth says. “Lesbian sex can be very imaginative and intuitive in that way. You can use toys, fingers, tongues, bodies. But it's all focussed on pleasure: giving and receiving. So I think if all sexualities employed some of that queer imagination and generosity, there would be a lot more orgasms happening. Sex isn't an In-N-Out drive-in.”
Imagination, generosity and intuition are indeed the magic three when it comes to orgasms. But what about the physical, practical side of things? Using your mind is important, sure, but what about the rest of it? “Use your fucking mouth and hands (preferably simultaneously) and focus on the clit,” asserts Brooke, 29. “Unless you're a master in G-spot stimulation, penetration alone isn't going to give most women an orgasm.”
Other lesbians say similar things when it comes to both oral and clitoral sex. “Only a few are going to come from basic penetration,” says 24-year-old Ruby. (Side note: she's right. According to studies, only 25 percent of cis women tend to orgasm from penetration alone). “So my advice for anyone wanting to give women or people with vaginas orgasms is this: go down on your partner. Not for a few seconds, for as long as it takes. And introduce a finger or two while you're there, if they like it; I personally like to aim for the blended orgasm. Penetration is good but there needs to be a side course.”
“Whether you're using your tongue, finger, dildo or dick – start off gentle,” adds Beth. “Then pay close attention to how your partner is responding. If you pick up the pace and they seem more turned on by that, then carry on. If they seem like they're into one rhythm, then continue. This sounds cheesy, but to make a woman come, you need to listen to their body at all times.”
And finally, it seems, the key to opening the orgasm lock is something that all lesbians are anecdotally very good at: communication. Talking. Feeling things out. “Everyone gets turned on by different stuff,” points out 29-year-old Rhi. “So it's important to actually ask your gf or whoever you're sleeping with. Are they into being submissive or dominant? Is there one thing they haven't tried that they'd love to? Straightforward communication is hot, you don't always have to try to mind read.”
“All women's bodies are different and unique and I think we all experience pleasure in different ways,” adds Brooke. “Ask your lady what her likes and dislikes are and pay attention to her when you're 'performing' to get a feel of what she's into.”
Obviously, orgasms aren't the be all and end of all of sex. Plenty of people find it hard or aren't able to orgasm for whatever reason, and that doesn't mean sex is any less satisfying or enjoyable. In fact, oftentimes, the best thing about orgasms is the build up – the stuff that happens beforehand. But, also, let's be honest: orgasms are one of the better things in this life. It's neither fair nor sound for queer women and cis men to keep hoarding them.
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.