The Secrets to the Female Orgasm Aren’t What You’d Expect

A recent study published by the National Institute of Health supports what women have known since, well, the beginning of time; no two orgasms are the same, and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how to get to that climax. The study explored results from an American probability sample of over 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 97, and the results may surprise you.

What everyone likes in the bedroom differs

A couple laying in a bed while sleeping.

Keep your partner on their toes. |

According to a USA Today analysis of the study, women reported different preferences in genital touch like stroke, pressure, and pattern of stimulation. The majority of the surveyed women preferred multiple styles of touch as opposed to just one, increasing the importance of mixing things up in the bedroom.

There were some common contributors to good orgasms, however. For many women, it was important to have their partner spend time building arousal, know what they like, and express emotional intimacy.

The women revealed techniques that hadn’t even been named yet

A couple's feet seen peaking out of a white blanket.

Eight in 10 women found this technique successful. |

Surveying over 2,000 women brought to light techniques they found helped with climax that had no name. The study revealed that 70% of women benefitted from a technique called “hinting,” where their partners passed by their clitoris with their touch and only occasionally indulged.

Eight in 10 women opted for using “rhythm,” or a, “well-timed, almost musical loop of motion,” according to OMGYes. Other newly named techniques that the site explains include edging, orbiting, and staging.

Less than 25% of women can orgasm from intercourse alone

A couple lying in their pajamas in a white bed.

The perfect sex life does not exist. |

Women overwhelmingly require clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, according to the study. Only 18.4% of the women surveyed said intercourse alone was enough to orgasm. Experts like Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D. and author of The Normal Bar, reveal why.

“We’re not really constructed to have an orgasm from intercourse alone,” Schwartz told BuzzFeed Life. “The clitoris is where all the nerve endings are — except for the cervix — and there are almost none in the barrel of the vagina.” The clitoris has eight times the amount of nerve endings than the head of the penis has; that’s just how important it is.

The key secret: Try outercourse instead

A man and women laying in a white bed together.

Explore new and unexpected ways to pleasure each other. |

“Outercourse” refers to sex that doesn’t involve penetration. It can include kissing, touching, oral sex, and using sex toys, among other acts. Debby Herbenick, who led the study, told CNN, “how powerful genital touching can be.” The study found that nearly 27% of women found clitoral stimulation necessary to orgasm, and another 36% said it definitely made their orgasms feel better.

In reality, sex doesn’t need to involve intercourse at all, and other forms of stimulation may improve your odds of having an orgasm. Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a sex therapist in New York and author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, explains why oral sex and manual stimulation are the most effective ways to bring a woman to orgasm. “Men need to … understand that the clitoris is the powerhouse of the female orgasm and foreplay is coreplay,” he says.

Other studies found health benefits to having satisfying sex

A pensive man lays on his bed.

The key to a woman’s satisfaction isn’t always clear — so let your partner know what you want. |

CNN found 10 ways that satisfying sex can improve your health. If you weren’t convinced of how important climaxing was before, let these reasons persuade you. A recent study found that women who report having frequent, extremely satisfying sex had a lower risk of hypertension than those who didn’t.

Men benefit from having regular sex, as well. The American Urological Association reported that men who ejaculate at least once a month may be lowering their risk of prostate cancer. There’s also good news for everyone involved — on average, sex burns about 150 calories per hour.

The study and site breaks the stigma on the female orgasm

A woman lies in her bed with white blankets and pink pillows.

Why does it have to be so hard? | Eaniton/iStock/Getty Images

Females notoriously have to work harder to orgasm, as well as fight various stigmas; some people fetishize women’s pleasure or even find it a taboo topic. Many women fake an orgasm during intercourse to appear ‘normal’ and make their male partners feel good, according to therapist and author Laurie Mintz.

“The site smashes taboos surrounding female sexuality and treats the female orgasm with an unprecedented seriousness: tackling the complexities surrounding the ways in which women experience pleasure with honesty and no shame,” said a Marie Claire review.

Often, a woman’s mind will influence how her body feels

Two women hugging each other outside.

Comfort, trust, and confidence in the mind can make for great orgasms. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

A lot of it is a result of the mind, and less of the body. “It’s amazing to me how much brain work it takes for a girl to have an orgasm,” Jenny McCarthy, an actress and television host, said to ABC News. “Guys just need to look at a nipple, and they lose it. God, I wish it was that easy for us!”

Mintz added that a woman’s overall mood and stress level may have an effect on her ability to orgasm as well, explaining, “… the degree to which she is able to mindfully immerse in the sexual encounter — can have an impact on orgasm quality too.”