Not that this is a race or anything, but, ever been curious about how long it takes for a woman to get to the finish line? Maybe you’re a vulva-owner wondering whether it takes you longer than average or whether you’re ahead of the curve.
Or maybe you have sex with women and are wondering how to know whether she had an orgasm or not? Maybe she’s one of those super sneaky, no-noise orgasm ninjas? Women can reach climax through anything from traditional intercourse to the use of adult sex toys and masturbation. Let’s talk about sex, orgasms, and intercourse; what could be more fun!?
What if a woman doesn’t climax from intercourse?
Every vulva-owner is different, and their body’s sexual functions are also a little/a lot different. One important thing to know if you’re a man/penis haver and you like to have sex with women is that when it comes to internal vaginal stimulation, not all folks with vaginas experience orgasm from intercourse alone -- and that’s OK. In fact, the vast majority of women report not being able to climax from intercourse (experts say 70-80% of women do not orgasm from penetrative sex alone). This is part of why there’s such a distinct orgasm gap between the sexes.
For some vulva-owning folks, orgasm in combination with penetration is great and fun, while for others, it's uncomfortable, or even be painful due to their pelvic floor muscles constricting (along with other sexual health concerns). Painful orgasms aren’t necessarily everyone’s jam.
How long does it take women to climax during intercourse?
If a woman is capable of orgasm from intercourse, and the measure of successful sex is an orgasm, then studies in sexual and medical sciences have shown that the magic number is ~14. In other words, it takes about 14 minutes of sexual intercourse in an average penetrative sex situation for a woman to have one orgasm. Again, this is a rough estimate, and caveats abound.
On the other hand the average time needed to achieve male orgasm is a little different, for a penis-haver. Male ejaculation takes about 5 to 7 minutes during intercourse. As you can see, there’s a gap between these two figures for each average sexual encounter.
Once you’ve achieved a female or male orgasm, how long does an orgasm last? Depending on the person, orgasms can feel like they last a split second or minutes at a time.
What about climax from other types of stimulation?
Despite feeling sexual pleasure from intercourse, not all women are capable of having multiple orgasms or a vaginal orgasm in the first place. Some women have never experienced an orgasm before, whether from vaginal intercourse or otherwise. For some, the idea of sexual stimulation to achieve orgasm is taxing or anxiety-producing (especially with a partner).
A far more tried and true method for achieving orgasm for women and vulva-owners is clitoral stimulation. There are approximately a bajillion nerve endings in the clitoral head alone (it’s actually around 8,000). You can engage in clitoral stimulation with hands, fingers (digitally), or with mouths, lips, and tongues through oral sex (yum).
Interestingly, since all women/vulva-owners orgasm a little differently, it can be hard to tell if they’ve orgasmed at all. Some are much more expressive physically and show signs like increased breathing, verbal moans, noises, etc. However, if in the past that particular vulva-owner had to hide their orgasm, or be quiet, or likes sneaky-sneak masturbation, you might not know if they’ve had one or even multiple orgasms.
The best way to really know is to ask; your partner could be providing an Oscar-worthy female orgasm performance for various reasons. Orgasm doesn’t have to be the main goal of sex though. So regardless of O or No O, if every participant is having a good time, then all is well in the sex world.
Female ejaculation is another one that doesn’t follow whatever normal orgasm track we’ve been talking about here. A term you’ve probably heard for female ejaculation is squirting. People commonly ask, can all women squirt? The answer is, it’s complicated. If you’ve never squirted before, look into how to make yourself squirt. Some vulva-havers have the ability to female ejaculate, which can be swift and abrupt, along with a large release of pressure, and this doesn’t follow a 14-minute rule. Sometimes it’ll just sneak up on you!
Is an orgasm more likely closer to ovulation?
Yes, kind of. Within an ovulation cycle, vulva-havers are more likely to be orgasmic in the few days right before ovulation; this is due to an increase in estrogen levels. Additionally, orgasms close to ovulation or during pregnancy can be more intense because of additional blood flow to the whole pelvic region. More blood flow means more sexual arousal and more sensation.
Interestingly, sometimes things that happen close to a vulva-owners natural cycle will trigger induced ovulation. The act of coitus (sexual intercourse) can sometimes be this trigger. Surprise — spontaneous ovulation!
Speaking of natural female cycles, orgasms during your menstrual cycle might carry their own health benefits. If you’re prone to period cramps, you’ll do anything to reduce the pain. Have you ever wondered, do orgasms help cramps? We might have found a remedy for you, that will really release some stress.
Tips for the vulva-haver: Get out of your head and into the O
Looking to get down that O-lane a little easier? Here are a few quick tips that might help.
Get warm -- physically
Ever been caught in the cold of New York City? It turns out having an orgasm is more difficult when you’re cold, so if you’re gonna engage in some wonderful wintercouse, turn that temperature up, get under some cozy blankets, or find a nice desirable body to snuggle up to real close!
Partnered sex? Check your relationship
Regardless of your sexual activity arrangement (straight women, bisexual women, lesbian, pansexual, etc.), the quality of the interaction between partners seriously affects their ability to orgasm. If your partner is the jealous type, or you don’t feel safe with them, you’re less likely to have an orgasm. This is worth looking into if you’ve been orgasmic in the past and this partner isn’t doing the right stuff to get you there.
Focus on being in the moment
Everyone’s got a to-do list miles long, but focusing on that list during sex is going to make it more difficult to orgasm. Clear your mind, focus on the sensations present in your body now, and run your own mental pleasure script (whisked away to Baja by your favorite Fabio? Yes, please!)
Set the stage
Too many distractions can make it difficult to get in the mood. Get that fun erotic wonderland feel with some candles, music, and incense to help the troubles mmmmmmmelt away.
Contrary to the cultural zeitgeist, wearing socks is actually a decent thing to do in the bedroom. Socks are a small reminder that you’re safe and warm, and those little mental boosts can help get you O-ver that hump and into the female pleasure zone ;)
Sex should be a fun and healthy activity. Regardless of differences in how long it takes to orgasm between men/penis-havers and women/vulva-owners, pleasure and connectedness should be the goal. If you’re having trouble orgasming or are uncomfortable with sex, knowledge is power, and perhaps seeking the expertise of a sex therapist is the right move for you. They’re able to offer assistance with understanding your triggers and sexual behavior while also respecting your privacy and personal information. You can also read more about female or male ejaculation in our related blogs, like Do Orgasms Help Cramps? Or What is Semen Retention and is it Worth it?
There are also many knowledgeable individuals and resources out there, such as Justin Lehmiller of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. Justin Lehmiller is an established social science researcher and award-winning sexual health educator, he also hosts the Sex and Psychology Podcast. Another tried, and true resource for sexual medicine information is Planned Parenthood; they have tons of free resources. Remember that you are in control of your own pleasure and body and that you deserve to feel good. Orgasms are for everyone!