The time has come for women to close the orgasm gap.
Research shows that straight women statistically get off less than any other demographic, including lesbians. That might be because partners in heterosexual relationships don’t put a premium on women’s pleasure during sex.
The elusive female orgasm probably wouldn’t be so elusive if it was equally valued and if men were interested in learning the exact ways women bring themselves to climax. (Clitoral stimulation is a must for 36 percent of women, according to a recent Indiana University study conducted in partnership with OMGYes.)
Since the orgasm gap is depressingly real ― and because July 31 is National Orgasm Day ― we asked women to share how they reliably get off, either on their own or with a partner. See what they had to say below.
Some names have been changed to protect sources’ privacy. Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
“For me, there’s really nothing more trustworthy than my own hand. I own a really nice Rabbit, but I find myself just turning to my hand whenever I need to. It’s also my favorite way to orgasm with my partner! Once I realized that my sexual happiness was a turn-on for my partners too, I started involving myself during penetrative sex. This is easiest for me to do when I’m on top or when my partner is behind me, but I make it work no matter what.” ― Corinne Dodenhoff, illustrator
“I always need direct clitoral stimulation for an orgasm, whether it’s from oral sex from a partner, vaginal sex combined with clitoral stimulation (i.e. me on top, missionary, doggy style with manual or toy stimulation), or masturbation with clitoral stimulation. With masturbation, I usually prefer a vibrator, with or without vaginal penetration, or with my hand. I’m often multi-orgasmic, but only with clitoral stimulation. Porn can help, but isn’t a must. Vaginal penetration can intensify orgasms, but I’ve never come close to orgasming with solely vaginal or anal stimulation. My wish list? I’d love to try out a Sybian sex machine, but not at those prices!” ― Jessica Mehta, author of The Wrong Kind of Indian
“When I’m on my own, I need to be sitting up ― propped up against a pile of pillows, wall, or sofa ― to be able to orgasm. If I’m laying down, my clitoris hides too much under my clitoral hood and I can’t get enough stimulation. But when I sit up it’s more exposed and more easily directly stimulated by my vibrator. And I need a specific type of vibration ― a thuddy and more powerful motor. I recently shared this personal information with a female friend who was stunned to hear it and now cautiously optimistic about her own orgasmic potential. It had never occurred to her to try sitting up during clitoral stimulation!” ― Jennifer Gunsaullus, a sociologist and relationship and intimacy coach
“My go-to way of orgasming alone or with a partner is engaging my mind in an erotic fantasy. Physical stimulation alone can make it tough to orgasm if you aren’t engaging your biggest sex organ ― your mind. It takes practice to reconnect to your sexual mind and embody arousal in more than just your genitals. For solo or partner pleasure, I recommend dirty talk, sexting, sharing fantasies and reading (and even writing!) erotica. I’ve learned you have to pay attention to which words, scenes, vignettes make you warm, tingly and excited. Those fantasies become like your own mental lubricant you can access anytime you want to bring on arousal alone or with a partner.” ― Luna Matatas, a pleasure educator and burlesque performer
“If I really want to get off, I straddle my boyfriend and make him lie still. If I’m really close, just grinding against him chest to chest with all my senses engaged and feeling the love I feel for him will make me come. If I still have a way to go, I allow my imagination to travel to a really naughty idea, like that I’m a sex worker and it’s my job to make him come or how naughty it is to be screwing. If that still doesn’t work, I’ll have him put his whole mouth on my breast and suck really hard, or I’ll lie on my stomach and have him spank me or finger me or threaten to penetrate my ass while I masturbate. After that first clitoral orgasm, if I want to keep getting off, I’ll have him pound me from behind or below while angling my pelvis just right.” ― Lisa
“My route to orgasm has changed many times throughout my life. It used to be that my orgasms came from clitoral stimulation, with nothing in my vagina. Later, it was all about a combination of good, strong fingers pressing into and moving across my G-spot together with my vibrator on my clit. These days, it’s all about my cervix, which means I need deep, repetitive thrusting in combination with my vibrator on my clit. This is what currently makes me explode over and over again. My clit always needs to be involved, even when I have a G-spot or cervical orgasm. I’ve always been blessed to be multi-orgasmic and have helped many women learn how to do so as well!” ― Celeste Hirschman, a sex and intimacy coach in San Francisco
“In the past, if a man I found attractive was simply orally talented, mission accomplished! However, today, I require a much more committed and meaningful dynamic to help me get there. (My orgasms feed off of emotional connection and mutual trust.) Once that’s there, I love creative moves like tease and denial, and skillful fingers, mouths and dirty talk more than do the trick. Sexy calls during our lunch hour, counting me down to ‘lift off’ or his watching me use my Hitachi while he pleasures himself next to me is all the inspiration I need.” ― Hudsy Hawn, a kink coach, professional dominatrix and writer
“I orgasm most consistently from arousal either by fingers or mouth to my clitoral area by my partner. I’m a people person. While this happens, I meditate [on] what I call my ‘Orgasmic Laws of Attraction.’ I free my brain of everything but the excitement and anticipation of the orgasm — my mantra: ‘I will climax. I will climax…’ until I do!” ― Caytha Jentis, writer/creator The Other F Word
“I use my Hitachi Magic Wand. Many women who have trouble reaching orgasm often need a higher frequency and vibration or pressure, and this is where the Hitachi really shines. A great majority of vibrators don’t offer the intensity required to reach orgasm. (Be sure to get the Hitachi with the cord, not battery-operated, as the battery-operated also doesn’t offer the vibration and pressure needed.)” ―Mistress Georgia Payne, Los Angeles-based dominatrix and author of How to Be A Dominant Diva
“For oral, I need two fingers inside the vagina, pressing upward and holding still, and his tongue on the clit, starting right below it and licking up and down so that it’s directly on the clit and not the hood. For digital, I need two fingers moving the hood around in circles in a counterclockwise motion so that the hood stimulates the clit. During intercourse, I do this finger motion myself or hold a vibrator still over the clitoral hood. My advice to people who want more orgasms with a partner: Be specific. Your partner’s education has probably been limited to vague-ass articles with advice like ‘create a romantic mood!’ and ‘experiment!’ Tell them exactly what motion and location feels best. Show them what you do on your own.” ―Suzannah Weiss, sex and relationships writer
“The easiest way to orgasm for me is to recognize even the slightest sensation of pleasure as a tiny orgasm. I believe that orgasmicness is our nature. It’s not some place we need to arrive, quite the opposite ― we need to remove the blocks that prevent us from being in this natural state. Deep breath paired with a long sound on the exhalation, deep relaxation into sensation and pleasure, plus allowing the body to move in a soft natural way are all gateways to orgasm.” ―Sofia Sundari, a tantra teacher
“I keep a cordless Magic Wand vibrator in a drawer right under my bed. I reach for it first thing in the morning, and use it before I go to sleep at night and any other time throughout the day if desired. So I use my vibrator about two or three times a day. SUCH a great investment! I usually think dirty thoughts or watch a little porn. It takes only about five minutes to get the job done!” -- Kendra Holliday, a sex educator in St. Louis, Missouri.