The Big “O”: Sociocultural influences on orgasm frequency and sexual satisfaction in women

Image credit: Tina Maria Elena


Previous research revealed a gap in orgasm frequency between men and women, with women orgasming less frequently than men. Because female orgasms are rooted partially in psychological origins, this gap may be partly explained by sociocultural factors. Utilizing sexual satisfaction as an outcome measure and orgasm frequency as a mediator, we surveyed 1043 women about a multitude of factors to determine the relationship between sociocultural factors, orgasm frequency and sexual satisfaction. Because women may orgasm in different frequencies depending on context, we measured four different orgasm variables: orgasm with self (masturbation), orgasm with a familiar partner, orgasm with a new partner, and multiple orgasm frequency. Factors such as sexual orientation, sexual shame, sexual pride, sexual assertiveness, sexual attitudes (related to permissiveness, birth control and communion), endorsement of traditional gender roles, and endorsement of the sexual double standard were correlated with female orgasm frequency within different contexts. The only orgasm variable that predicted sexual satisfaction was orgasm with a familiar partner, indicating that not all orgasms can predict sexual satisfaction. Overall, sexual assertiveness was the variable that positively correlated with and predicted orgasm frequency in almost all contexts as well as sexual satisfaction. This indicates that socializing women to be more sexually assertive could potentially lead to more frequent orgasms and greater sexual satisfaction. The findings of this study can be used to bridge the orgasm gap between men and women, and in general help women in curating better and more positive sexual encounters.

Sexuality and Culture