Women are highly diverse when it comes to how they orgasm and what kinds of touch they find pleasurable

What is the best way to please a woman in bed? That depends on which woman you’re trying to please. New research has uncovered that women have a diverse set of preferences when it comes to reaching orgasm.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, examined women’s experiences related to orgasm, sexual pleasure, and genital touching. The findings highlight the importance of exploration and communication between partners.

“Our research team has long valued studying sexual pleasure in its own right and we have a great deal of experience conducting nationally representative studies of sex in America,” said study author Debby Herbenick, a professor of applied health science at Indiana University.

“When OMGYES approached us with their interests, we realized we had shared curiosities about women’s experiences with genital touching, and sexual pleasure, and it was a natural fit to collaborate on this study,” she explained. “Considering how often magazines and blogs and books give out advice on sexual touching, it was an excellent opportunity to provide some empirical evidence to address these questions.”

The researchers surveyed a sample of 1,055 U.S. women ages 18 to 94. They found that not all orgasms are created equal — 77.5% of women agreed that some orgasms felt better than others.

Herbenick and her colleagues also found that 36.6 percent of women said they needed clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm during intercourse, while 18.4 percent said vaginal penetration alone was enough. Another 36 percent said clitoral stimulation wasn’t necessary but did enhance their orgasm. Nine percent of women reported they did not experience orgasms during intercourse.

“Our data show the possibilities for women who are interested in not just having orgasms, but orgasm enhancement – for example, more than one-third of women don’t require clitoral stimulation during intercourse in order to have an orgasm, but they find that clitoral stimulation makes their orgasms better,” Herbenick told PsyPost. “The idea of exploring your body, gaining these insights, and being able to enhance your own experience is key.”

About two-thirds of women preferred direct clitoral stimulation, while 5 percent preferred their partner to avoid the clitoris altogether.

“Women are highly diverse when it comes to what turns them on and what kinds of touch they find pleasurable, which underscores just how important it is for couples to explore together, to be open to talking with one another about sexual techniques, and to develop a language that helps them to share their desires with one another,” Herbenick said.

The researchers also asked the women what specific types of manual and oral stimulation they preferred. Most of the women, 63.7 percent, said they enjoyed an up and down motion on their vulva. A small majority, 51.6 percent, enjoyed circular movements and 30.6 percent enjoyed side-to-side movements. Less popular options included pressing in one spot, pulling, squeezing and tapping.

Similarly, three-fourths of women endorsed a rhythmic motion, a motion that circles around the clitoris, switching between different motions, and switching between more and less intense touch.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Herbenick told PsyPost. “There’s always more to learn and certainly future research might focus on men’s preferred techniques, as well as people’s preferred techniques with oral sex, intercourse, sex toy play, or any number of ways that people explore their sexuality.”

The study, “Women’s Experiences with Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results from a U.S. Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94“, was also co-authored by Tsung-Chieh (Jane) Fu, Jennifer Arter, Stephanie A. Sanders and Brian Dodge