It never fails to amaze me just how little we know about sex. I’ve written frequently about my frustration at the lack of empirical knowledge about the clitoris compared to the understanding of pretty much all of our other anatomy. Another thing we know little about is the difference, or similarity, between men and women’s orgasms.
When we look at the neurology of an orgasm, male and female climaxes are almost indistinguishable, as does the description men and women give for their experience. “It starts with a feeling of warmth deep inside me, and my muscles begin to tense up…” and so on.
But there is one big difference – frequency:
- Heterosexual men orgasm most times they have sex,
- followed by gay men,
- followed by bi men,
- followed by lesbian women,
- followed by heterosexual women, who orgasm somewhere between 45-65%. (that’s all the statistics I could find on the subject, predictably.)
There is likely to be an underlying reason for this, but I imagine is cultural rather than biological. Heterosexual sex tends to favor activity that encourages male orgasm, like penetrative sex, over female orgasm, like foreplay.
There is a biological reason too. The clitoris and penis develop from the same erectile tissue. But the clitoris is largely inside and around the vagina, whereas the penis is largely external, which means men enjoy direct stimulation during sex while women’s pleasure is largely indirect.
Interestingly, this disparity applies only to sex. Men and women both reach orgasm through masturbation at equal ease, and report equal satisfaction when they climax alone too. It’s just sex where heterosexual women get short shrift. As we’ve seen, gay women report more orgasms and more satisfaction during partnered sexual activity.
So to summarise, there’s no neurological or biological difference between men and women. In fact, women even produce prostatic fluid – semen, essentially.