“Did you finish?” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have to ask a woman if she had an orgasm, odds are she did not.
This is especially true if, like the average man, you took between 5 and 7 seven minutes to finish. According to 2019 research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, it takes the average woman around double that time—13.41 minutes—to orgasm during P-in-V intercourse. It’s also worth pointing out that the vast majority of women can’t cum from penetration alone; they need external clitoral stimulation, too.
All of this contributes to what’s commonly known as the “orgasm gap”: the proven fact that men orgasm during sex significantly more often than women do. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that straight women orgasm 63% of the time with a common partner (i.e., husband or boyfriend), whereas men orgasm 85% of the time with a common partner. Other studies have found an even bigger gap. A 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that straight women orgasm 65% of the time, while straight men orgasm 95% of the time. Women orgasm even less—roughly 40% of the time—when they have a casual hookup with a one-night stand, according to a 2012 study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Now that you know this, you’re probably wondering: how can I make sure a woman orgasms during sex? Maybe it’s time to step up your game. After all, you can’t keep doing the same exact moves and expect different results.
So what can you do to help her reach that peak? Help her relax, says sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D. “Studies show that in order for a woman to achieve orgasm, the part of her brain associated with stress, emotion, and anxiety has to shut down,” he says. Translation: if you make a woman feel so good that she completely forgets about everything else, then you’re more likely to give her an orgasm. Contrary to your instincts, that might mean not telling her how badly you want her to cum—that kind of pressure can make her even less likely to get there.
Of course, every woman is different, so what one woman loves in bed another woman might loathe. That said, there are a few moves that do tend to work—so if your partner is having trouble getting to the finish line, try these tips from real women and sexual health experts.
1) Don’t race toward her orgasm.
“Try to remember the goal of sex is pleasure, and orgasm is one kind of pleasure that is significantly shorter than all the rest of it,” says Shadeen Francis, LMFT. “If, during sex, you can create a space focused on feeling as good as possible, it may make her more likely to orgasm.”
That’s why Francis recommends slowing down. Take your time with your movements, and don’t focus on the end game. There is a slight irony to it—the more your partner thinks about orgasming, the less likely she will be to orgasm. So switch the focus on just making her feel as good as possible, for as long as possible.
2) Get to know the clitoris.
First things first: the vast majority of women require clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, period. In fact, a study of more than 1,000 women in 2017 revealed that only 18 percent of ladies can orgasm through vaginal intercourse alone. So when you’re having sex, you want to spend as much time stimulating her clitoris as possible.
Some sex positions make it easier to do this than others. Rachel* reveals this trick: “When a guy is on top of you in the missionary position, have him shift his body slightly forward so that, every time he thrusts, his penis rubs against your clitoris.” This tactic is even more orgasmic if the woman’s legs are together and the man’s are straddling her, says Ellen Friedrichs, M.A., an adjunct professor of human sexuality at Rutgers University. You can achieve the same effect when she’s on top by propping yourself up on your elbows, which places your abdomen in closer contact with her clitoris.
3) Pay more attention to her butt.
Unless anal is on the menu, too often a woman’s butt is sidelined during sex. And that’s a shame, because “the buttocks are packed with nerve endings,” says Gilda Carle, Ph.D., a sex therapist in New York City. “To give her a surprising jolt of pleasure, spread your fingers wide and squeeze both buttocks.”
That said, be gentle, and take it one step at a time. Yes, of course, there are women out there who crave a good spanking, but until you’ve had a conversation about this sort of thing, just keep it simple and light.
4) Learn what she likes, and follow her lead.
As we mentioned above, direct clitoral stimulation is the most surefire way to bring many women to orgasm—and oral sex is a pretty good way of going about that. “Going down on a woman allows you to get a real sense of the stimulation she likes at every stage of arousal, especially the final one,” says Kerner.
To find out more about what she likes and doesn’t like, let her take the lead. When you’re giving her oral sex, get between her legs and give her a solid base of lips, tongue, and even chin to rub against. At first, use your hands to guide her hips to let her know you want her to do the grinding. When she takes over, note how hard she’s pushing and in what direction. Use that information later when using your fingers or mouth to please her.
5) Don’t stop kissing her.
Once things get more heated, you might be tempted to focus less on kissing in favor of more X-rated pleasures. But deep kissing is a must for female orgasm, according to a 2017 survey of more than 50,000 adults. The findings revealed that women were much more likely to reach orgasm if their sexual encounter included a combination of deep kissing, oral sex and genital stimulation.
Ask her if she has any fantasies that she’d like to explore. “Fantasies can increase arousal during a sexual experience,” says Francis. “Finding a fantasy that really turns your partner on can add another layer of pleasure during sex that can help take her over the edge.” It’s also a way to get her more psychologically aroused, which is just as important (if not more important) than physical arousal.
7) Don’t be afraid to talk dirty.
In the heat of the moment, a string of well-chosen four-letter words can work wonders. Test the waters by “complimenting her or talking about how good what [she’s] doing feels,” advises Friedrichs. If she responds with “Oh, yeah” or a similarly enthusiastic phrase, she wants more.
If you’re hesitant, a simple compliment about how attractive you find your partner will do the trick. “You don’t have to tell or make pornographic sounds, but saying something specific about me is sexy while we’re in bed is perfect,” says Emily.
FYI, here are some more tips on dirty talk:
8) Lube up.
No matter how hot and heavy you guys are getting, without adequate lubrication, it’s easy for sex to become uncomfortable or even painful for her. “Lubrication increases the comfort and speed with which you can penetrate the vagina and grind against the clitoris,” says Friedrichs. “But sometimes, no matter how turned on a woman might be psychologically, she can have trouble getting wet.”
In fact, studies have shown that sex is more enjoyable for women when they use even moderate amounts of lube. And here’s another fun fact: Men who add extra lubrication to their condoms during intercourse tend to last longer in bed, according to research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Try squirting a few drops of lube onto the end of your penis; then thrust with short, rhythmic strokes while pressing your body against her pubic mound.
9) Focus on her neck.
Our necks are highly responsive touch pads: the skin is thin there, and the blood vessels are close to the surface. So it’s not surprising that researchers have found that the neck is one of the best places to stimulate a woman using light touch (so no hickeys, please).
When you’re having sex and she’s clearly moving toward orgasm, brush your lips from her collarbone to her jaw, then give her neck soft, warm kisses to drive her wild.
10) Break out the toys.
If your partner never hits her high note, no matter now hard you try, it might be time to enlist the help of sex toys. In fact, she’ll probably be more than happy to pull out the Hitachi Magic Wand from her bedside drawer: more than 50 percent of women use vibrators to help them achieve orgasm, according to a 2009 study.
Hold the vibrator against her clitoris as you move from one position to another and enjoy the show. Just remember to ask her preferences about pressure and speed: you don’t want to start too fast and heavy right off the bat
11) Ask her what she wants.
This might sound obvious, but asking your partner exactly what makes her hot is the best way to help her orgasm. In fact, studies have shown that people who are more comfortable talking about sex have better sex, because they feel less anxious during intercourse. Discussing her fantasies, preferences, and turn-offs (without judgement) will make her feel more comfortable—which will, in turn, lead to both of you having incredible orgasms.