Sex researchers are taking a more nuanced view of how gender and sexual orientation influence sexual behaviors. New research has found that straight men often wish they could perform more oral sex while lesbian women tend to experience multiple orgasms more often — among other things.
The study revealed that men and women in same-sex and mixed-sex relationships tended to engage in different types of sexual activity. Their levels of satisfaction also tended to be different.
Previous research had found that lesbian women reported experiencing more orgasms than heterosexual women. That research has been confirmed by a large survey. But the researchers wanted to know more about how people experienced orgasm as a result of a variety of different sexual activities.
“In general, we know that sexual satisfaction is associated with a host of other benefits, including relationship satisfaction as well as mental and physical health,” explained Karen L. Blair of St. Francis Xavier University, the study’s corresponding author.
“Given the centrality of the ‘orgasm’ to sexual satisfaction (for many, rightly or wrongly), it seems important to understand precisely which kinds of orgasms are the most satisfying, and whether different types of people all enjoy the same types of orgasm, or whether there are differences based on gender or the gender of one’s partner. Ultimately, we hope that through studying this we can help people to learn more about themselves and about their partners and to determine options that might improve their relationships and sexual relationships.”
The study was published March 31, 2017, in the Journal of Sex Research.
“There is great variability in what people enjoy, and couples might be well served to ask each other which kinds of orgasms each partner enjoys the most and try to adapt their sexual scripts accordingly,” Blair told PsyPost. “It seems that women may be reluctant to ask for oral sex from their male partners because they are not overly keen on reciprocating the act. However, the only group consistently reporting great enjoyment and satisfaction from orgasms associated with vaginal penetration is heterosexual men. This suggests women are already ‘reciprocating’ with the most enjoyable orgasm for their male partner when they engage in vaginal penetration, and that for them to also experience their most satisfying orgasm, the reciprocation from their male partner should likely be performing oral sex.”
“However, it is also important to note that this is all based on averages, and each individual will have their own preferences – so the real take away is to find out what those preferences are and to build a sexual repertoire that includes what each person enjoys the most and finds the most consistently satisfying,” she continued. “To an extent, it seems like those in same-sex relationships may already be doing this simply because society did not hand them a well-practiced and well-publicized (e.g., multimedia) sexual script to work from. They always had to find out what each new partner liked or didn’t like, which possibly makes it easier for same-sex couples to craft individualized sexual scripts that work best for each new relationship.”
The study compared four groups: men in mixed-sex relationships, men in same-sex relationships, women in mixed-sex relationships, and women in same-sex relationships. To obtain their findings, the researchers surveyed 806 adults in romantic relationships about their sex lives. The sample was predominately white (90.1%). About half of the sample identified with the labels gay or lesbian, while about 5 percent identified as bisexual.
The researchers found that women in same-sex relationships were more likely to derive more satisfaction from receiving oral sex than women in mixed-sex relationships. Men and women in same-sex relationships also reported a greater frequency of oral sex than those in mixed-sex relationships. Women in same-sex relationships also reported the greatest frequency of multiple orgasms.
Women in same-sex relationships reporting greater a frequency of orgasm from clitoral stimulation. But there was no difference between women in same-sex and mixed-sex relationships when it came to the frequency of orgasms as a result of vaginal intercourse combined with clitoral stimulation.
“Together, these patterns support the notion that women in same-sex relationships may simply be more in tune with other women’s bodies and more adept at manipulating other women’s bodies in the way they would their own,” the researchers wrote in their study.
Men in mixed-sex relationships were the most likely to desire receiving oral sex more often. They were also the most likely to say they would like to perform oral sex on their partner more often. Women in mixed-sex relationships, on the other hand, obtained less satisfaction from providing oral sex than the other three groups.
Why do men in heterosexual relationships want to perform more oral sex? Blair said there could be two reasons:
“Men really enjoy providing oral sex to their female partners and would like to do this more, but women are reluctant to let them do this (we do see that women in mixed-sex relationships report engaging in this behavior less and that they are less likely to say they want the frequency of it to increase),” she explained. “So, men could be reporting that they want to do this more because their partners are reluctant and they really would like to do it more.”
“It could be that men would like to receive more oral sex and they believe that in order to do that, they need to first provide more oral sex, so they may be reporting a desire for increased frequency as a means of increasing the likelihood of later receiving more oral sex from their female partners.”
“More research would be needed to really disentangle these potential motives,” Blair continued. “I lean towards the first one though, as they also rate giving oral sex as being very satisfying. Women, on the other hand, do not rate giving oral sex to male partners as being highly satisfying.”
Men also reported greater satisfaction from penetrative activities than women, regardless of sexual orientation, and had a greater desire to increase the frequency of penetrative activities. Men in same-sex relationships engaged in penetrative intercourse much less frequently than men in mixed-sex relationships, but reported the same level of satisfaction from it.
Human sexual behavior is complex and Blair said researchers still have plenty more work to do.
“Right now we are working on an analysis of some open-ended data where women talk about the importance (or lack thereof) of vaginal penetration to their sex life and sexual satisfaction,” she explained. “I think that some more qualitative data around this topic could be very helpful in understanding exactly why men and women in same- and mixed-sex relationships find certain orgasms more satisfying than others.”
The study, “Not All Orgasms Were Created Equal: Differences in Frequency and Satisfaction of Orgasm Experiences by Sexual Activity in Same-Sex versus Mixed-Sex Relationships“, was also co-authored by Jaclyn Cappell and Caroline F. Pukall.