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Achieve Success with the Triad of Pleasure

A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior surveyed over 50,000 women and men of all orientations who were in relationships with one partner. The study, called Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample uncovered several orgasm gaps. The statistical differences in experiences of orgasm among the varied populations reveal what many sex educators and therapists have known for years.


The Findings

Orgasms vary in reliability among different sexual orientations as well as between the sexes. Heterosexual men (95%) were most likely to usually or always orgasm during sexual encounters, followed closely by gay men (89%), bisexual men (88%) and lesbian women (86%). The gap was more pronounced when asking bisexual women (66%) and heterosexual women (65%) about the reliability of their orgasms.  Of course, some people are content with having sexual connections without orgasm, but in my practice, clients tell me that sex without orgasms can feel frustrating and trigger anger, self-doubt and even lead to the loss of a relationship.


Why the Differences?

Orgasms are generally harder for women to achieve than men. And many people of all genders still believe that orgasm should happen through intercourse. However, most women (70%) do not orgasm during penetration alone. But despite the statistics, the expectations unfortunately persist that the only worthy, intimate or mature (according to Freud) orgasm is one that happens during intercourse. This is simply not realistic, as most women’s primary erogenous zone (the clitoris) is not usually directly stimulated during intercourse.  When women have sex with women, the expectations of penetration as the ultimate orgasm tool are greatly reduced and other types of sexual stimulation and pleasure are more commonly used. Women having sex together tend to take turns receiving pleasure more often than heterosexual couples do, that in turn enhances focus or awareness that is often required for orgasm.

Vibrators help to even the scale, but vibrators are not always the answer. Many women feel uncomfortable introducing their partner to their toys that they have used solo, while many partners feel threatened by their use, even if they make orgasms more reliable. Some women also feel uncomfortable using their own hands to masturbate during partner sex.


The Magic Triad: Kissing, Manual Genital Stimulation, Oral Sex

The study asked about different kinds of interactions (e.g. flirting during the day) that led up to their sexual encounters as well as types of pleasure activities. It concluded that women were more likely to orgasm if their sexual encounter included deep kissing, manual genital stimulation, and/or oral sex.

Kissing: Many couples stop kissing once relationships progress and skip over it to get to the “good stuff”. But for many women, kissing is a key to our arousal and is in and of itself very pleasurable and an important way of connecting. Some even say that it is the most intimate sexual act.

Manual Genital Stimulation: Fingers reach and stimulate a clitoris much more easily than a penis or dildo can. And fingers are much more versatile in the kinds of movements, including in different directions and in different places (e.g. on a clitoris, around the labia and inside a vagina all at the same time.) Thirdly, they are much more nimble at reaching specific erogenous zones such as the G-Spot.

Oral Sex: Most women find that oral pleasure is the easiest way (other than with a vibrator) to orgasm during partner sex. Softness, wetness and intimacy are oral sex’s own golden triad of what makes it so pleasurable. Yet a lot of women struggle with receiving oral pleasure. Many of us have been told directly or indirectly that vulvas are dirty, smelly, ugly and taste terrible, none of which are true as:

  • Vaginas are cleaner than our mouths and are self-cleaning.

  • All of our body parts can smell more strongly when we sweat and when it has been a while since our last shower or bath. Fortunately, most of us in North America have access to running water. Our natural odours are quite exquisite and not much different between the sexes. Many poets have extolled the aphrodisiac qualities of the natural aroma of a vulva.

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And what is deemed beautiful is often influenced by cultural messages. Hence those who have heard that vulvas are ugly will often then perceive them that way.

  • As for taste, most of us did not like the taste of wine or beer either the first time we tried them until our taste buds matured. Genitals (yes, of all types) are an acquired taste.

Other significant findings

It is also not a surprise the study also found that those who orgasmed also claimed to “be more satisfied with their relationship, ask for what they want in bed.” Those who are not satisfied with their relationship or not comfortable asking for what they want sexually are not as likely to feel comfortable asking for oral pleasure or giving feedback on their partner’s techniques. Oral sex is one kind of intimacy where many women need to feel very connected with a partner to freely ask for and to receive even though women often feel freer to give oral pleasure. Because of the above myths, many women either do not allow their partners to give them oral pleasure or stop their partners after a limited time in order to “spare” them of the chore. Once women (and their partners) appreciate the truths about genitals, they often can learn to fully enjoy the type of pleasure that can help them more reliably achieve orgasm.


Does This Apply to Everyone?

None of the results showed 100% success when it comes to orgasm since all humans vary in many ways, especially in terms of what brings us pleasure. While the “Magic Triad” may be a useful guideline and worth exploring its validity in any particular relationship, it is by no means universal. Reflect on the findings in the context of your own life, try your own experiment, and follow your own truths and preferences when it comes to your own pleasure. Whatever your own conclusions, it should lead to increased pleasure and perhaps more orgasms.


Carlyle Jansen is the founder of Good For Her, a sexuality shop and workshop centre in Toronto. If you have questions or comments, email carlyle@goodforher.com or go online to goodforher.com