Can she orgasm during intercourse?

June 18, 2011

in Sexuality

The 30% lie © Paul H. Byerly

Does your bride climax during intercourse? Have you heard the often-repeated statistic that only 30% of women can do this – or only 30% have EVER done it? That is one of those bits of unsupported information that has been repeated so often it has become conventional wisdom. Many who should know better – including some experts I normally respect a great deal – repeat this non-fact. This lie started with Shere Hite’s book The Hite Report on Female Sexuality in 1976. Hite’s methods, demographic skew, and bias are so blatant that they are commonly used as examples of what NOT to do in college courses dealing with survey methods. [Wikipedia covers this well.]

Setting aside sampling errors and high numbers of those with an axe to grind, the question seems all wrong to me. If you went to a group of high-school students and asked them how many could do a cartwheel, I suspect it would be far less than 30%. However, this does not mean that most high-school students are incapable of doing a cartwheel – it only means most have never learned to do cartwheels. If you said you would return in a month, and give $1000 to each student who did a cartwheel, the number who “can do a cartwheel” would go up significantly. My point is that never having done something does not mean you can’t learn to.

Before I go on, I do want to make it clear that some women will never be able to climax during intercourse, and others have no desire to try. If your bride is not interested, or no longer interested, in making this happen, please accept her choice. Pushing her to do this when she is not motivated is not going to end well, and it may do great harm to your sex life or even your marriage.

Next week I will discuss some ways to make this happen for couples who want to do it. For now, here some facts that run counter to the 30% lie:

  • A number of studies have found incident of orgasm during intercourse goes up with a woman’s age. This shows that it can be learned.
  • Studies have shown that married women are better able to climax during intercourse than single women of the same age are. This shows that it’s easier to learn when you are with one partner.
  • Women who enter marriage expecting to orgasm during intercourse are far more likely to do so. (One study of such women found only 21.9% had never done so.)
  • A number of studies have found that at least half of women married more than a year climax during intercourse. Longer marriage raises those numbers.
  • Duration of foreplay correlates with frequency of female orgasm during intercourse.
  • Women more active in sex are more likely to orgasm during intercourse.
  • Women who do and do not orgasm during intercourse have “significant differences” in “family environment and childhood, level of education and professional standing, sexual development and life, and in the incidence of psychopathological symptoms”.
  • The younger a woman starts having intercourse, the more likely she is to orgasm during intercourse.
  • Women “with better psychological functioning” are more likely to orgasm during intercourse.

Some sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9494687
http://www.springerlink.com/content/v224q06m19283w24/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8147184
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01469.x/abstract
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go1966/is_1-2_14/ai_n29218080/

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14 comments
The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Myron - No telling what can happen, and I pray you both have a lot of fun finding out. Even "at your age" there are new things to discover sexually. As for premarital sex, I agree that it causes a lot f problems. Women in particular have a hard time dealing with past sexual sins, and it can be a real block to great marital sex.

Myron
Myron

I am 63, my bride is 64, we married May 14,2011. I was divorced after 11 yrs of marriage by 1st wife and 2nd wife died of cancer after 23 yrs of marriage. Those women experienced some intercourse orgasm but 2nd wife appeared to respond better orgasmically by clitoral stimulation. My bride has only experienced orgasm by clitoral stimulation, both manual and orally. I seriously do not believe she will be able to experience an intercourse orgasm even with considerable clitoral stimulation. Time will tell. She has had wild orgasms, and has had up to 3 great orgasms in same evening, minutes apart ( a new experience for me). My bride is particularly stimulated by very light, delicate touches and brushes of my fingers over MANY different parts of her body. ( THIS TOO IS NEW TO ME!!!) My wife and I share every detail of what is beneficial AND what is NOT. Guys and gals, we are so different in our needs and desires, usually COMPLETELY different/opposite in SO MANY WAYS. That can be challenging but yet so beautiful. I desire to STUDY my wife and learn what she needs and prefers. I wonder how much sexual disfunction is caused by pre-marital fornication ( sin) that has not be repented of and forgiveness sought and offered ( it takes two to tango ). I would wager this is a big cause because God can't bless sin. For the record, my wife and I were both previously married and knew marital sexual activity. We were blessed as we responded to God's grace to remain chaste as we dated for 2 yrs. God blessed us with not even having a burning desire to commit sin in fornication, nor even a struggle to let our (my) hands roam where they should not. We are now married with clear consciences, free of guilt. ps: EXCELLENT book: 'A Celebration of Sex' by Rosenau.

Shelly
Shelly

Matt, it doesn't sound like the issue is you. It's more of an emotional issue with her upbringing that is keeping her back. There is something in the way that is preventing her from being what she wants to be. The sooner that can be dealt with the better. I have a degree in a mental health related field and if you came to me with such an issue I would suggest that you and your wife see an LCSW (counseling social worker) or a psychologist together some and individual some...whatever is needed. When the root of the problem is discovered and talked about then she will get the psychological peace she is searching out. In the meantime, if the magic wand is too powerful, try an electric toothbrush. Sounds crazy, but the same concept.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

RE Magic Wand: While this may be the all time more popular vibe in the US, some women find it too strong. The kind of vibration (speed, strength, and frequency) that works best varied from woman to woman. Virtually all women can climax from the right vibe IF they are willing to do so. Some have a hang-up about vibes, and some who can climax by they just don't enjoy it as much as some other method.

Matt
Matt

We have the Magic Wand. She doesn't like it. Says it's too much, even on the lower setting. I think a majority of her issues have to do with psychological functioning. She grew up in a family that never said "I love you." To this day, after nine years of marriage, it's incredibly hard for her to say words of affirmation. She won't ever say "I want to have sex with you" because its incredibly awkward for her to say that. She can't even say "I love you" during sex and will only say that after we've finished and I say "I love you" first. She has to concentrate so hard on having an orgasm that often times I'm just a distraction from the start. But despite all that, she has put an amazing effort into our sex life in the past year. I love her dearly, but have no idea how to help her past these psychological blocks when it's so easy for me to say words of affirmation.

Too quick
Too quick

Our problem is that I can't last longer than a minute our two. We usually take care of her during foreplay. I want to work on my problem, but due to infrequency (2x a month) I can't gain any progress. She says it doesn't bother her since her orgasm is taken care of, but it really is important to me. She says she understands but nothing is ever changed.

Matt
Matt

My wife has never come through intercourse alone. After nine years of marriage, it's the same as the first year. The only way she can have an orgasm is through manual stimulation - with her doing the manual stimulation during intercourse. I've tried to get her to come orally, manually, etc...but only she can do it. Maybe it's a lack of skill on my part - but won't ever really know because we were both virgins when we got married. There have been times when we were having sex that she couldn't even get herself to manually come. And as a result, that hurts her and she cries out to God wondering what's wrong with her because it's so difficult for her to orgasm. Regardless of her difficulties, she still likes sex and realizes how important sex is to me and our relationship. We've come a long ways after 9 years - but if she could ever learn how to orgasm from intercourse, or if I could learn how to lead her to that goal, I'm almost positive that would unleash her inner tiger. She would probably want to have sex more than me - so I'm looking forward to what you have to say/teach.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Alecia - Yes, some do specify "intercourse alone". I understand the technical difference, but frankly I don't see it as that important. Beyond that, the statement is still not true. Yes, in some studies only 30% of the women have climaxed from intercourse alone, but in other studies the number is far higher. If you look at college age girls who are having sex with a string of guys, the rates of orgasm during intercourse are very low. If you look at women 30 and older married for more than a year, the numbers are much higher - and get better with each passing year well into the forties. I do agree with you that not climaxing by intercourse alone is not an indication that something is wrong. That idea is harmful. Maybe that is why so many repeat the 30% figure, to try and make women feel okay. I don't think repeating a lie is a good way to help anyone. As I said, some women never will (be it her or him, or a combination of both), and some are not willing to work at it (often because what they do now is very enjoyable). That's all good. However, a great many women who have never done it will tell you they wish they could. Not because they think they "should" but because they enjoy both orgasm and intercourse, and would like to experience the two together. I want those who want to do them together to know that MOST women can.

Alecia
Alecia

Great thoughts on this! I found a study that showed that only 30% of women can climax with intercourse alone. Is that what you were referring to? It is plausible that we've just taken that number as a culture and interjected it into other thoughts on this subject. The points you made a valid and excellent however I'm not certain that they all run counter to the 30% statistic. The more practice you have at it, the more attentive your husband is in getting you to climax, the more you know your own body the better chance you are going to have at achieving it. For many women, climax will not ever occur through just intercourse. It takes time to figure out what works for you and you alone but often it ends up being a combination of things. In general, women take an average of 20 minutes of clitoral stimulation in order to be able to orgasm and somewhere along the way we began to think that there was something wrong with us if we couldn't just orgasm through intercourse (vaginal stimulation). We've got to start tearing away at those false ideas and stigmas. I appreciate that you guys are doing this series and look forward to the next posts!

John
John

Can yours? Rhetorical snark aside, I don't think it's quite proper to characterize the 30% figure as a conscious deception. It may be result of a poorly designed and executed study, and it may be frequently repeated because it reaffirms people's preconceptions, but that doesn't make it a lie. Still, you did provide some good reasons to believe that the actual frequency may exceed 30%.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Too quick - Some men (20% to 30%) can't last any longer than that, no matter what they do. There are a few new drugs just coming out that can help these men get to seven minutes. You may or may not be one of these men. Most guys would not last very long only have sex twice a month, so it could be either. If it's not importnat to her, don't push it. Putting pressure on her for any sexual change is only going to reduce her interest and willingness, and that would not be good.

Shelly
Shelly

Your wife needs a Magic Wand made by Hitachi. It will solve all the problems...like in a few minutes. I don't mean to be blunt, but she will love it.

Alecia
Alecia

I couldn't agree with you more on your siting of the difference between college girls and married monogamous women. I have read studies that show that people who are in long term monogamous relationships have better and more frequent sex. I also agree with you on your last sentence. Most women CAN. I think that might be the misconception that some of those studies perpetuate. Quite probably, many women HAVEN'T figured out how to orgasm (for all the reasons you've listed) but that certainly doesn't mean that they CAN'T. We, my husband and I, didn't figure it out until after more than 12 years of marriage and I admit I fell into that thinking for a number of years that says, "I'm just one of those who can't." Not true. I say practice, practice, practice! And for goodness sake, don't get down on yourself if it doesn't happen. Sex can still be enjoyable and pleasurable without the orgasm.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@John _ I removed "lie" twice as I edited, and kept putting it back. The vast majority who repeat this think it's true, so they are unknowingly repeating a lie. But the origins of this are not out of ignorance. The study was so bad no journal would have printed it, and yet it was published to the popular press. Some involved in that publishing knew how bad the study was, and that it was meaningless at best. That to me is a willingness to print as fact things you know are not, just to make money. Beyond that, the original research was motivated by a feminist agenda that wanted intercourse to a crime men perpetrate on women. See this review of the follow up book on male sexuality in the June 15th 1981 issue of the New York Magazine. Hite is clearly on a crusade against intercourse, and telling the world that the majority of women can never climax that way is part of her attempt to do that. What gets me is those who don't agree with her goals who repeat her findings as if they have any credibility. THEY DO NOT. Hite did not reinforce preconceptions, but she did create a new one. The reality is very, very few women climax the first time the have intercourse. In fact, very few mange it the first month of marriage. Those who keep at it for a year have a pretty good shot at it, but because of the 30% lie a lot give up after a month or two, deciding they are not among the lucky few. How sad that they are robbed by something that is not true!

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