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Joanne Bagshaw Ph.D.
Joanne Bagshaw Ph.D.

Why Do Lesbians Have More Orgasms Than Straight Women?

Less focus on penetrative intercourse can diminish the orgasm gap.

Bryan Kyed
Source: Bryan Kyed

Lesbians have more orgasms than straight and bisexual women, according to recent research.

A study by Garcia, Lloyd, Wallen, and Fisher (2014) surveyed a nationally representative sample of 6,151 women and men. The study demonstrated that for women, the rate of orgasm varied by sexual orientation. The mean occurrence rate (or how often sexual encounters with other people led to orgasm) was 61.6 percent for heterosexual women, 58 percent for bisexual women, and 74.4 percent for lesbian women.

In this study, men, regardless of sexual orientation, reported consistently more orgasms than women.

Why Do Lesbians Have More Orgasms?

Another study examined the duration and frequency of sexual encounters in same-sex and heterosexual couples. Blair and Pukall (2014) surveyed 822 participants between the ages of 18 and 79.

The results of the study reported lower levels of sexual frequency for lesbian couples

but revealed a key difference in sexual duration. Lesbian couples reported an average length of their sexual encounters to be somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes, while the couples in other types of relationships tended to average around 15 to 30 minutes per sexual encounter. An earlier study, conducted by Cohen and Byers (2013), corroborated that finding, concluding that women who had sex with women had sexual encounters that lasted an average of 57 minutes.

What Does Duration Have to Do With It?

The extended duration of lesbians’ sexual encounter (as compared to heterosexuals') may provide women the necessary amount of foreplay that's missing in many heterosexual sexual encounters. That gives women time to get fully aroused, increasing the likelihood of achieving an orgasm.

But as Nichols (2013) points out, it’s more complicated than just duration. In Blair and Pukall's research, lesbians and gay men reported using oral sex more frequently than heterosexuals, who tend to rely primarily on penetrative sex to reach orgasm—despite the fact that most women can’t orgasm from penetration alone.

Source: Unsplash

Additionally, Nichols reports that heterosexual women may not expect to have an orgasm, while women in lesbian relationships assume an orgasm is a given. The critical difference, then, maybe expectations. Since lesbian sexual relationships expect both partners to have an orgasm, they put the time and effort in during foreplay and oral sex to make sure it happens.

There's an important lesson here for straight couples: It's a good idea to rethink the script. In many cases, short, frequent, penetrative intercourse doesn't equal satisfaction for both parties. Men and women both want sex. But women don't want just sex—they want good sex, and bad sex can be a dealbreaker.

Want to learn more about what triggers your desire? Take my free quiz, "What's your Desire Style?"


Blair, K.L. & Pukall, C.F. (2014). Can less be more? Comparing duration vs. frequency of sexual encounters in same-sex and mixed-sex relationships. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 23:123–136; doi:10.3138/cjhs.2393 123

Cohen, J.N. & Byers, E.S. (2014). Beyond lesbian bed death: enhancing our understanding of the sexuality of sexual-minority women in relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 51: 893-903. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2013.795924

Garcia, J. R., Lloyd, E. A., Wallen, K. and Fisher, H. E. (2014), Variation in Orgasm Occurrence by Sexual Orientation in a Sample of U.S. Singles. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 11: 2645–2652. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12669

About the Author
Joanne Bagshaw Ph.D.

Joanne Bagshaw, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at Montgomery College and a sex and relationship therapist.

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