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Women’s Sexual Satisfaction, Communication, and Reasons for (No Longer) Faking Orgasm: Findings from a U.S. Probability Sample


We aimed to assess, among a U.S. probability sample of adult women: (1) the prevalence of, and reasons given for, faking and no longer faking orgasm, (2) women’s histories of sexual non-communication and reasons for non-communication, (3) associations between sexual non-communication and sexual satisfaction and faking orgasm, (4) associations between specific sexual communication and recent sexual satisfaction, and (5) associations between specific sexual communication and faking orgasm. Respondents were 1008 adult women ages 18–94 from the GfK KnowledgePanel (a nationally representative probability sample of non-institutionalized and English-speaking adults), who completed a confidential Internet-based survey. Although 58.8% of female respondents reported having ever faked/pretended orgasm, 67.3% of those who had ever faked orgasm no longer did. Women who continued to fake orgasms were more likely to indicate embarrassment talking about sex with their partner in explicit ways and were less likely to agree that they and their partner are able to talk specifically about what makes sex more pleasurable for them. More than half (55.4%) of women reported they had wanted to communicate with a partner regarding sex but decided not to; the most common reasons were not wanting to hurt a partner’s feelings (42.4%), not feeling comfortable going into detail (40.2%), and embarrassment (37.7%). Greater self-reported sexual satisfaction was associated with more comfortable sexual communication. Study findings and implications for professionals are discussed in the context of adult sexual development and learning. This includes growing more comfortable talking with a partner about sexual preferences and sexual pleasure.

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The authors are grateful to for funding in support of the present study.

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Correspondence to Debby Herbenick.

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Debby Herbenick has served as a scientific consultant to

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Herbenick, D., Eastman-Mueller, H., Fu, Tc. et al. Women’s Sexual Satisfaction, Communication, and Reasons for (No Longer) Faking Orgasm: Findings from a U.S. Probability Sample. Arch Sex Behav 48, 2461–2472 (2019).

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  • Female pleasure
  • Sexual communication
  • Sexual satisfaction
  • Probability sample
  • Faking orgasm