Women: Climax Less Likely in Relationship Sex

Researchers at Indiana University have released the most comprehensive sex survey since 1994. They made some surprising discoveries. Among them: men are more likely to enjoy sex and reach orgasm if they are in a relationship than if they are not. But women have more difficulty with arousal and bodily response when they are in a relationship.

This goes completely against stereotype. It also goes against what women and men report about their preferences.

What’s going on?

Today let’s explore women. We’ll look at men in an upcoming post.

When I’ve asked who enjoys sex more in our culture, males or females, I repeatedly get the same response from women. It begins with “Women enjoy sex as much as men, but…”

  • Some of us prefer to be with someone we love and who loves us back rather than some crazy one night romp with a random person.
  • Women place more emphasis on the emotional aspects of sex.
  • Women like sex more when it has depth and meaning. It is much more intense and romancing to women when they are in a relationship.

Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin concluded that for women, sexuality is more linked to love, emotional bonding and connection.

So IU’s data seems puzzling.

The researchers asked women and men about the last time they had sex: Were you with a relationship partner or not? What activities did you engage in? Did you have an orgasm? How much did you enjoy the sexual experience?

Finding: Women were less likely to climax when they were in relationships.

What’s up? Here are some possibilities.

Women who really love sexuality may be more likely to have sex with different partners, affecting the average.

What about more typical women? Women need to feel sexy and desired to get aroused. They want to feel chosen. With a new partner, a woman will feel she’s been chosen because she’s so attractive. But in committed relationships she may feel like her partner simply has no choice but sex with her. Not a big turn-on.

Men also seem to experience a slight drop in interest over time with long-term partners, and women may sense that, leading to an even bigger drop in their own libido.

Why a bigger drop for women? Marta Meana, psychology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says women have a lower sex drive (influenced by a culture that represses women’s sexuality) and need a bigger jolt to turn on libido. “If I don’t love cake as much as you,” she told a New York Times reporter, “my cake better be kick-butt to get me excited to eat it.” Something for men to think about.

At the same time relationship is helpful because women (and men) need to feel relaxed in order to climax. The Indiana University data isn’t clear on whether the more-aroused women were having sex with men whom they saw as potential committed partners – the beginning of relationship. In that case they might have felt an excitement at feeling chosen, but also safe enough to create the necessary comfort to climax.

But sex isn’t just about orgasm. The emotional component of feeling loved and connected creates a rich, multidimensional experience which may be what so many refer to when they say they want more than a quick roll in the hay.

Meanwhile, some advice for men: let your lady know she’s desired and chosen.

Originally posted on December 13, 2010 by

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 28, 2011, in gender, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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