“Studies focused on more specific techniques related to sexual pleasure of a woman and orgasm have generally not examined ways of touching in detail.” ~ Herbenick, D., et. al
A Quick Note…
As you’ve probably gathered from this article’s title, we’re going to be discussing some sensitive (read: adult) issues; in particular, the female anatomy as it relates to sexual intercourse.
In other words, this probably isn’t an appropriate article to let your 10-year-old read along to.
Cool beans! Let’s get going!
The Mysterious Female Anatomy
It can be argued quite convincingly (kind of) that the human brain and universe are the only things more mysterious than the female anatomy.
Unless, of course, it’s you. The odds are that you understand your own body quite well.
But you may not know just how different your body is from that of other women’s.
As we’ll discuss in the study, each woman’s body is unique, which is evident in how the female genitalia operates.
The Mysterious Female “O.”
We’ll just put it out there: the female orgasm has been misunderstood throughout history. While science has uncovered plenty in the last 100+ years, they can’t quite grasp the female sexual climax.
Modern thinking on the subject of female orgasm – likely promulgated in part by widespread pornography use – is that penetration of the vagina is the most common and preferred method for a woman to achieve sexual climax.
This belief is mistaken.
Researchers Attempt to Find Out Exactly What Women Want In Bed
The Study: Objectives and Rationale
Professor Debra Herbenick, along with her colleagues at Indiana University, wanted to put forth a more comprehensive study.
The research team’s objectives were “to assess, in a U.S. (sample) of women, experiences related to orgasm, sexual pleasure, and genital touching.”
The rationale for the study was as follows:
– More individualized information as it relates to female anatomy and sex.
– To date, sparse research has been conducted relating to the variability in how women experience genital touching, which is highly individualistic.
– Inexplicably, while plenty of studies focus on sexual behavior, dysfunction, or satisfaction, the essential issue of sexual touch as it relates to sexual pleasure is almost nonexistent.
– The data obtained from research can assist certain professionals (e.g., surgeons, sex therapists) in understanding the potential areas of genital sensitivity, pleasure, and sexual response.
– Additional information may help to recognize and validate the rarer sexual experiences among women.
– Promoting “straightforward, detailed, and comfortable language” in discussing delicate sexual issues.
The Study: Methods
To achieve a reasonable sample size, Herbenick and her team issued and analyzed a confidential, internet-based survey of 1,055 women. The women ranged in age from 18 to 94.
Demographic variables were accounted for using statistical means; this is a critical element of the study, as researchers want to include the probable opinions of an international population in their final analysis.
Other variables accounted for were educational attainment, census area, household income, and internet access (yes or no).
As mentioned, Herbenick’s team used an internet-based survey – and which included more than 30 questions relating to the participant’s background, sexual attitudes, sexual behaviors, sexual satisfaction, relationship experiences, and experiences of genital touching.
The survey was entirely voluntary, and no incentives were offered.
– 693 (67.2%) reported a partner having touched their vagina/vulva.
– 667 (64.6%) of women reported vaginal intercourse.
– 523 (51.1%) reported receiving oral sex.
Orgasm During Intercourse
Here are the study’s key measures (percentages are in bold):
(1) A higher number of women reported needing clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm than not:
– 347 women (36.6%) of intercourse-experienced women required clitoral stimulation to orgasm.
– 341 women (36%) reported that they did not require clitoral stimulation to experience orgasm, but that clitoral stimulation enhanced the orgasm’s quality.
(2) Women reach orgasm more often with clitoral stimulation:
– 272 women (43%) reach orgasm three out of every four sexual encounters with clitoral stimulation.
– 184 women (29%) reach orgasm three out of every four sexual encounters without stimulation (strictly penile penetration.)
(3) Emotions and effort matter when it comes to sex…
– Over 50% of women “felt that spending the time to build arousal, having a partner who knows what they like, and emotional intimacy contributed to better orgasms.”
(4) Duration of sex doesn’t make a (big) difference…
– Just 147 women (18.5%) reported that longer sex contributed to better orgasms.
(5) The “location, pressure, shapes, and styles” of preferred genital touch – as expected – was highly personalized.
– Over 67% prefer direct clitoral stimulation.
– “It was common to report liking stimulation just around the clitoris (e.g., to the sides or above the clitoris), brushing over the clitoris without applying pressure, and labia stimulation.”
– Just 5% of all women preferred avoidance of the clitoris.
(6) Women who like clitoral stimulation prefer certain motions:
– 608 women (63.7%) preferred “up and down” stroking on the clitoris.
– 493 (51.6%) preferred circular motions.
– 292 (30.6%) had a preference for side-to-side touching.
(7) Touch matters too…
– “Most women preferred light- or medium-pressure touch on their vulva.”
– Only 102 women (10.7%) preferred firm pressure.
– 152 (15.9%) stated “all pressures felt good.”
(8) There IS some common ground…
60% of women agreed with 13 out of 15 questions relating to clitoral motion and touch. The four most common were:
– “…a rhythmic motion, a motion that circles around the clitoris, switching between motions, and switching between more and less touch.”
Speaking for the author, the most powerful takeaways from researching and writing the article are:
- Women are highly individualistic in their definition of sexual satisfaction.
- Asking your woman what feels her feel good is one of the most important things you can do. Don’t presume to know.
- Pleasurable stimulation of the clitoris plays a vital role in both the occurrence and quality of most women’s orgasm.
So, when in doubt…ask!
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