Women’s pleasure is hardly a topic that sex researchers have shied away from. But up to now, most of the research out there has been pretty general. For example, it’s well known that foreplay and sexual variety are good things for a girl’s orgasm.
But what about the specifics? When it comes to the exact way women like to be touched or touch themselves, research is decidedly lacking. Where precisely do women want fingers to glide? How much pressure do they like, what kind of movement, what patterns of touch?
Determined to find out the juicy details about women’s experiences of orgasms, sexual pleasure, and genital touching, a group of researchers tracked down 1000 US women of all ages. The research was part of the Pleasure Report Survey for the aptly named OMGYes research company, which runs a taboo-busting commercial website devoted to boosting women’s sexual pleasure.
In confidential surveys, the researchers asked the women questions like: How much pressure feels just right? What are some of the most pleasurable ways you’ve been touched by a partner? What makes some orgasms feel better than others? How do you have multiple orgasms?
What makes it mind-blowing?
For an orgasm to happen during intercourse, clitoral stimulation is where it’s at.
About 36 per cent of women can’t climax without it and a further 36 per cent say their orgasm is way better if their clitoris is involved, the researchers learned.
Speaking of better orgasms, most women agreed that some are way better than others. What makes an orgasm mind-blowing versus just so-so? It’s all about taking the time to build up to arousal, say over 75 per cent of women. For more than half, a partner who knows what they are into and feeling emotionally intimate with him or her also makes a major difference. Interestingly, longer-lasting sex doesn’t mean better orgasms for most women.
The perfect touch
When it comes to genital touch, where and how it feels good depends a lot on the woman, the research showed. For example, though two out of three women like it when a partner touches her clitoris directly, about 45 per cent say that indirect touch feels good.
Not ones to leave things vague, the researchers asked where the women liked their indirect touch. Through the skin above the clitoral hood is the spot of choice for the majority, they learned.
Most women also prefer a very light touch, light pressure that glides over their genital skin, or medium pressure that actually moves it, the researchers also learned. Only about 10 per cent were into firm pressure.
Motion also matters. Up and down movements are the way to go, say 60 per cent of women, while more than half are into a circular motion. Other options like side-to-side and pulsating or pushing/pressing in one spot are pleasurable for between 20 and 30 per cent of women.
Certain techniques are pretty much guaranteed to drive a woman wild.
A rhythmic touch, a motion that circles around the clitoris, and switching between movements – for example going from up and down to circles – are all great ideas.
Most also feel that the same way of touching is too intense if it’s done constantly, so switching things up by going from more intense to less intense motions is better.
Upping the pleasure
Delaying an orgasm ups the pleasure for two out of three women, the research showed. How is this done, exactly? By stopping all stimulation before starting again, touching less sensitive areas, or using less intense movements, say the women in the study.
Almost half had multiple orgasms. For a repeat, 53 per cent say that what feels best after the first orgasm is returning to earlier kinds of stimulation to ‘rebuild.’ About 33 per cent say continuing with the same kind of stimulation does the trick, while the same number say something totally different is needed for a second orgasm.
Communication is key
Clearly, there’s a whole lot of variability when it comes to what drives a woman wild in bed. And though some kinds of genital touching, like up-and-down movements or light-to-medium pressure, are preferred by many, in fact, each woman tends to be into a pretty narrow range of touch techniques, the researchers point out.
So the take-home message here is that communication is key to a woman’s sexual pleasure. When talking with a partner, get specific! The researchers suggest discussing the four aspects of stimulation – location, pressure, motion, and patterns – and using straightforward, detailed, and comfortable language.
Herbenick, D., Fu, T.J., Arter, J., Sanders, S.A. & Dodge, B. (2017). Women’s Experiences With Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results From a U.S. Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94. Sex & Marital Therapy, 5:1-12.
Looking for frank advice about sex? Head for our forum, and let's talk!