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Orgasm Frequency Predicts Desire and Expectation for Orgasm: Assessing the Orgasm Gap within Mixed-Sex Couples


While previous research has established the existence of an orgasm gap between men and women, research exploring this phenomenon within dyadic samples of mixed-sex couples has been limited. The current study aims to investigate the impact of this orgasm disparity on novel sexual outcomes for couples, including desire and expectation for orgasm. We conducted secondary data analyses on a sample of 104 sexually active mixed-sex couples using an online Qualtrics panel (Mage = 43.9 years; 94.2% heterosexual; 79.3% White). Cisgender men and women within the couple reported on their sexual satisfaction, orgasm frequency, desired orgasm frequency, expectation for how often people should orgasm (“orgasm expectation”), and perceptions of their partner’s orgasm frequency. An orgasm gap emerged, and men significantly underreported the size of the orgasm gap in their relationships. In a dyadic path model, men’s and women’s own orgasm frequency positively predicted their desire and expectation for orgasm. Additionally, women’s orgasm frequency predicted men’s orgasm expectation. This relationship between orgasm frequencies and expectancies may partially explain women’s lower orgasm importance compared to men. A cycle of orgasm inequality within relationships may be perpetuated when women who experience less frequent orgasms lower their desire and expectation for orgasm. Sex educators, activists, and therapists should work to improve entitlement to sexual pleasure and orgasm, particularly for women who wish to increase their orgasm frequency.

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Correspondence to G. M. Wetzel.

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This study was approved by the Rutgers University Institutional Review Board.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Wetzel, G.M., Cultice, R.A. & Sanchez, D.T. Orgasm Frequency Predicts Desire and Expectation for Orgasm: Assessing the Orgasm Gap within Mixed-Sex Couples. Sex Roles 86, 456–470 (2022).

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  • Orgasm gap
  • Female orgasm
  • Sexual satisfaction
  • Sexuality
  • Couples
  • Sexual pleasure
  • Sexual desire
  • Close relationships