Can research point us to what makes women more orgasmic–and what makes orgasm less likely?

Rebecca here on the blog today! My mother, my sister and I are going full tilt creating The Orgasm Course (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d have to type), and as I shared on the podcast last week, I wanted to make sure that we weren’t just writing some awkward course based on personal experience.

That’s icky on so many levels. Especially since we all work together.

So I wanted to keep it in the realm of research, and I’ve been looking at journal articles, at news pieces, and even at lifestyle blogs to see what research is saying, and incorporating all of that into our videos and our workbooks for The Orgasm Course (make sure you’re signed up to the email list so you don’t miss the launch special on October 26!).

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And I thought I’d share some of what we learned about what makes her orgasm today!

I’ve found a ton of articles through my research for this course, but I’m mainly going to focus on one study that included over 52,000 people total (including 24,000 heterosexual women) that looked at differences in orgasm frequency and deciphered the determinants of orgasm for men versus women.

Here are some interesting takeaways from the research:

1. Women need a LOT more than vaginal intercourse to reach orgasm.

Look at some of these contrasts: Only 35% of women who report ONLY having vaginal intercourse during their last sexual encounter were in the “usually-always orgasm” group. On the other hand, 77% of women who received oral sex, passionately kissed their partner, had genital stimulation, as well as vaginal intercourse were in the “usually-always orgasm” group! But here’s the bigger one: for that oral sex/clitoral stimulation/kissing/intercourse sexual encounter group, only 7% of women rarely to never orgasm. But when we look at solely vaginal-intercourse-sex, that number jumps to 44%.

If you want to feel pleasure, do a lot more than intercourse! 

2. Oral sex is really, really helpful to bring women to orgasm

This study found that women who orgasm more frequently received more oral sex. Now, could it be that women who orgasm more frequently are simply more comfortable with their sexuality, and so more likely to have more oral sex? Sure, that could be it. But oral sex also allows a woman to be selfish in bed and make her pleasure the priority. If a husband wants his wife to orgasm, making sex completely about her for at least part of it can be a very good, research-backed idea.

And it’s in line with our post The Theology of the Clitoris, too!

3. Romance is an aphrodisiac that leads to orgasm

Next up in the “no duh” category, feeling loved, desired, and romanced helps a LOT when it comes to awakening women’s sexual response. Deep, passionate kissing was strongly correlated with female orgasm, as was positive feelings about the relationship, flirty emails, and expressions of love during sex.

Sex can become another “to-do” for many women, especially if it’s been difficult to feel pleasure in the past. Take a minute, and actually think about how you talk about sex in your marriage–is sex still “sexy”? Or is it more of a scheduled appointment? Do you compliment your spouse in bed? Do you whisper about racy memories together when you’re lying in bed at night, or do you roll over and scroll through Twitter on your phone?

Kiss your spouse. Kiss with passion. It’s important!

4. Women: speak up in bed if you want to reach orgasm

One of the biggest differentiation points found between women who usually-always orgasmed and women who never-rarely orgasmed was if they spoke up about what they wanted in bed. Did they give instructions, say when things didn’t feel good, or communicated when things were working? If yes, they were much more likely to be in the “orgasm” group.

But still, women often have a hard time making their pleasure a priority in bed. Despite the fact that men are almost guaranteed an orgasm during sex, we women can feel really guilty or selfish if we work at our own orgasm. But women, please hear: your orgasm is important, too! And your husband WANTS you to feel pleasure–and if he doesn’t, frankly, that’s not going to be fixed by you putting up with terrible sex.

So men, encourage your wife to speak up. And part of encouraging her is recognizing that sometimes, she may tell you that what you’re doing isn’t pleasuring her. Please don’t take that personally when she does–it’s a chance for you to become an even better lover for your wife, and it’s important you give her the freedom to find her voice when it comes to sex!

5. Men don’t always understand what brings a woman pleasure–or makes her orgasm

Now, men got a lot of things totally right, but here are some funny differences I noticed looking at the numbers, especially concerning oral sex:  

  • Men underestimate how important receiving oral sex is for women’s orgasm. In fact, when contrasting women’s self-report data with what men say about their partners’ experience, we find that men estimated oral sex had approximately a third of the predictive strength than it actually does. (When you ask women, you get a β value of 0.19, when you ask men, you get a β value of 0.07).
  • Men overestimate how hot women think giving oral sex is. Women’s self-report data didn’t find that giving oral sex made it more or less likely that a woman would orgasm. But men thought it made it much more likely. In fact, men reported that a woman GIVING oral sex was almost three times more predictive of her orgasm than her RECEIVING oral sex (β value of 0.20 and 0.07, respectively).

It’s an important reminder that what’s really hot for one partner may not be working for the other! Our experiences are different, and that does not mean they are wrong or broken–and it definitely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include fellatio in your sex life! But it does mean that we need to be open with communication so that you truly know what makes your partner tick instead of just assuming that what makes you feel good makes them feel good.

We discuss all of this and so much more in the men’s add-on to our new Orgasm Course coming out this month. We go into not just what the research says, but how to learn what your spouse likes. Obviously research gives us a good place to start. But that’s all it is–a starting point! We want to give you the tools you need to learn how to be intimately “known” by and to intimately “know” your spouse–and that means figuring out how to make them feel really, really good.

What if you just don’t like oral sex–either giving or receiving?

That’s totally okay! For many women, this can be quite triggering, or can be associated with something bad. If that’s you, it’s okay to say you’d rather find other ways of feeling good. There is no one-size-fits-all, and we’ll go into lots of detail about how to find out what makes you feel comfortable, and what makes you feel good!


So there you go–5 things to know about what makes orgasm more likely for women.

The good news, I think, is that those things are all quite doable. It’s not about calisthenics, or trying really weird stuff in bed. It’s mostly about a good relationship, about communication, and about reciprocity and recognizing that her sexual response needs something different than his does. 

And when you focus on what you each need, rather than seeing her needs as a bother, you can both have a lot of fun!

What do you think? Do any of those things contributing to orgasm–or making orgasm more difficult–resonate with you? Let’s talk in the comments!

Rebecca Lindenbach

Rebecca Lindenbach

Blog Contributor, Author, and Podcaster

Rebecca Lindenbach is a psychology graduate, Sheila’s daughter, co-author of The Great Sex Rescue, and the author of Why I Didn’t Rebel. Working alongside her husband Connor, she develops websites focusing on building Jesus-centered marriages and families. Living the work-from-home dream, they take turns bouncing their toddler son and baby daughter, and appeasing their curmudgeonly blind rescue Yorkshire terrier, Winston. ENTJ, 9w8. Check out Why I Didn't Rebel, or follow her on Instagram!

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