Why Are Some Women Able To Reach Orgasm During Intercourse, But Others Can't?

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Several studies have found that, while some women experience orgasms from vaginal penetration alone, others do not [1]. What exactly accounts for this difference? Some research suggests that one of the reasons behind it may come down to a difference in anatomy--specifically, the location of a woman's clitoris relative to her vagina.

Research has found that women who have a clitoris that sits closer to their vaginal opening have a greater likelihood of reaching orgasm during intercourse compared to women who have a larger distance between these two body parts [2].  Specifically, when the distance is within about one inch--approximately the width of an average person’s thumb--orgasms from vaginal penetration are more likely. It is theorized that this distance allows the penis to provide some degree of direct clitoral stimulation during intercourse, thereby facilitating orgasm. Larger distances likely create less clitoral stimulation and, therefore, lower odds of reaching orgasm.

Women whose clitoris is further from their vaginal opening can potentially increase their likelihood of orgasm during vaginal penetration by experimenting with different sexual positions in order to find one that provides more clitoral stimulation, such as the coital alignment technique. Another option would be for one of the partners to provide manual stimulation of the clitoris during intercourse.

This isn't to say that clitoral-vaginal distance is the only factor that matters when it comes to whether women experience orgasms during vaginal intercourse. It's also worth pointing out that a smaller distance is hardly a guarantee of reaching orgasm. Research has found that women's odds of experiencing orgasm depend on many other factors, too (e.g., how many previous sexual experiences she's had with her partner, which other sexual activities take place, etc.).

The important thing to keep in mind is that there are really no "right" or "wrong" ways to have sex. One of the biggest keys to a satisfying sex life is to get familiar with your own body and be willing to communicate with your partner about what feels best.

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[1] Fugl-Meyer, K., Oberg, K., Lundberg, P., & Lewin, B. (2006). On orgasm, sexual techniques, and erotic perceptions in 18- to 74-year-old Swedish women. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3, 56-68.

[2] Wallen, K., & Lloyd, E. A. (2011). Female sexual arousal: Genital anatomy and orgasm in intercourse. Hormones and Behavior, 59, 780-792.

Image Source: iStockphoto.com

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