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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax chart, a new report says.
Researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University in Bloomington analyzed responses from 2,850 single Americans to online questionnaires. The survey was sponsored by the online dating company Match.com, although participants were not drawn from users of the site.
The men and women in the study ranged in age from 21 to more than 80 years old.
Men reported having an orgasm during sex with a familiar partner 22.2 percent more often than women, the study found.
But lesbian women said they reached climax during sex 13.1 percent more often than heterosexual women, according to the findings published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
“Women’s orgasms are less predictable than men’s and they vary with sexual orientation and men’s don’t,” lead researcher Justin Garcia told Reuters Health.
In 1966, pioneering sex researchers Masters and Johnson suggested that straight men could learn a lot about how to guide their partners to orgasm from lesbian women, said Garcia, an Indiana University gender studies professor.
Consequently, he told Reuters Health, his study’s finding that lesbians have more orgasms than heterosexual women came as no surprise.
“There are still pretty strong sexual double standards in America and they infiltrate the bedroom,” he said.
Nicole Prause, who studies human sexual behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, agrees that sexual double standards that favor pleasuring men continue to prevail. But she questioned the validity of the current study’s data on lesbians because she believes women often believe they are having an orgasm when in fact they are not.
“I would be shocked if they’re not over-counting,” Prause told Reuters Health. She was not involved with the current study.
“I don’t think they’re lying,” she said. “I think they really believe they’re having orgasm. If they’re having fun, keep having fun. But there’s a science issue that hasn’t been addressed.”
When both men and women reach orgasm they have eight to 12 measurable contractions, Prause said. But researchers don’t measure them.
“How do women learn what an orgasm is?” she asked. “Your parents aren’t talking to you about it. Where would you learn? I don’t know. Maybe they’re reporting orgasms just when they’re having a pleasurable sensation.”
The authors of the current study say there is a dearth of data on rates of orgasm across sexual orientations.
In the new study, single men reported experiencing orgasm during sex with a familiar partner on average 85.1 percent of the time, while women reported orgasm 62.9 percent of the time.
Familiar partners exclude unfamiliar sexual “hookups,” like those common among students on college campuses, Garcia said.
“We know that in hookups, where men and women don’t know their partners, the orgasm rates are lower,” he said. It’s also known that that orgasm rates are higher in men and women in committed relationships, he said.
His data showed hardly any difference between the frequency of orgasm reported by heterosexual and gay men. Heterosexual men said they had an orgasm 85.5 percent of the time, and gay men reported orgasms 84.7 percent of the time.
Heterosexual women reported orgasm during sex with a familiar partner 61.6 percent of the time, while homosexual women reported orgasm significantly more often – 74.7 percent of the time, the study found.
The surprising finding for Garcia, he said, was among bisexual men and women. Compared to other men, bisexual men reported a lower, though not significantly, orgasm rate of 77.6 percent, the study found.
Bisexual women also reported a lower rate – 58 percent – than other women.
The reason for bisexuals’ lower orgasm rates remains unclear, Garcia said. He said the data underscore the need for more information about the health of sexual minorities.
Prause also would like to learn more about sexual minorities and orgasm. But she is skeptical about the usefulness of the current study’s self-reported data.
“I want to believe that women know their own bodies and I want to believe the lesbian effect is there. I’m glad they think they’re having a better time,” she said.
Along with the disadvantage of using self-reported data, the study was also limited by the fact that participation required access to a computer. In addition, the authors note, they “did not include the categories of ‘queer’ or ‘asexual’ or a variety of other categories that more fully encompass people’s sexual identities.”
Prause called for studies, like one she is doing in Pittsburgh, that actually measure orgasm contractions and check the validity of self-reports. Those studies are difficult to do, she said, because universities, including UCLA, are reluctant to allow people to reach orgasm in laboratories.
“There’s a very simple and straightforward way to measure the presence of orgasm,” Prause said, “but no one’s doing it.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/XFZHOi The Journal of Sexual Medicine, online August 18, 2014.