Over the past 40 years, many surveys have asked women if they've ever faked an orgasm, and consistently, half to two-thirds (53 percent to 65 percent) have said yes they have at least once.
But men faking orgasm? That's unheard of. Well, no, not exactly. Many sex therapists offer anecdotal reports, and a 1981 study of 280 college students (185 women and 95 men) showed the familiar rate among women (60 percent)—and faking by 36 percent of the men. But that was the only real study, until recently.
In 2010, researchers at the University of Kansas asked 281 undergraduates (180 men and 101 women) to complete an anonymous sex survey that included questions about faking orgasm. Consistent with previous findings, two-thirds of the women (67 percent) said they'd pretended at least once—and 28 percent of the men said the same.
While not a nationally representative sample, the participants included a reasonable demographic cross-section of college students: largely white, but some Asian, Hispanic, and African-American, and largely heterosexual, but some gay/lesbian or bi. Pretenders and non-pretenders reported generally similar sexual experience, but the fakers were more experienced, so they'd had more opportunities to pretend. Fakers were also sexually more adventurous, reporting more masturbation, oral sex, and anal play.
Most faking took place in established relationships (78 percent of the women, 53 percent of the men), but it also occurred among dating couples (2 percent of women, 16 percent of men), friends with benefits (10 percent and 9 percent), and casual hook-ups (10 percent, 16 percent).
No women faked it with men they'd just met, but 7 percent of the men did with new women acquaintances.
Most faking took place during vaginal intercourse (55 percent of the women, 80 percent of the men), but some occurred during oral sex (8 percent, 11 percent), or other unspecified sexual play (37 percent, 8 percent).
Women's pretending was rarely linked to alcohol, but men's was. Two percent of the women had some alcohol before faking orgasm and 6 percent said they were drunk. Meanwhile, 11 percent of the men had been drinking and 24 percent claimed they were drunk.
Faked orgasms typically involved acting—moaning, hip thrusting, and thrashing about in an effort to fool the partner. Young women's acting often tricks young men because guys with limited sexual experience may not recognize the pelvic muscle contractions of real female orgasms.
But men's orgasms produce visible evidence, semen, so how can men fake it? Condoms are often the key. Men thrust and moan, and then deftly discard the condom before the women notice there's nothing in it. But the men who'd pretended didn't always use condoms, so it seems that some college-age women are as clueless about men's orgasms as men can be about women's. As one man recalled about faking it: "She was like, well, did you get off? And I was like, yeah."
Men and women fake orgasms for similar reasons:
Orgasm was taking too long or wasn't going to happen: women, 71 percent; men, 84 percent.
They wanted the sex to end: 61 percent and 82 percent.
They wanted to avoid hurting the partner's feelings: 69 percent and 47 percent.
They felt bored, or tired, or sleepy, or no longer in the mood for sex: 56 percent and 72 percent.
This study confirms the previous research that a majority of women have faked orgasm at least once, and it corroborates the one previous study that men also fake it. Based on these two studies, it seems somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of college-age men have faked it, meaning that men pretend to have orgasms about half as much as women.
Have YOU ever faked orgasm? I'm especially hoping for comments from men. Why? And how did you explain the lack of semen? Or did you? I'm also interested in reports of faking by people older than college age. Is anything about faking different for older lovers?
The study: Muehlenhard, C. and S.K. Shippee. "Men's and Women's Reports of Pretending Orgasm," Journal of Sex Research (2010) 47:552.