About 85 percent of men reported in a study that their partner had an orgasm during their most recent sexual event. The number dropped to 64 percent when women were asked whether they reached climax their last time.
The difference is probably due to poor communication between the genders, said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle who wasn’t involved in the survey. Research like this can help people talk to each other about sex, she said in a telephone interview.
The study, conducted by scientists from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, surveyed 5,865 people aged 14 to 94 about their sexual activities, profiling what sex acts they engaged in and what precautions they took. A similar study was published in 1994 by University of Chicago researchers. Americans have become more experimental in the 16 years between the reports, the researchers wrote.
“The era of wham-bam, thank you ma’am is over,” Schwartz said.
The survey, reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that adult men and women usually engage in more than one act in each encounter. Men are more likely to orgasm when sex includes vaginal intercourse, according to the report. Women are more likely to climax when they engage in a variety of activities, including oral and vaginal intercourse.
Compared with the 1994 study, “more men and women have engaged in oral sex and a significantly greater proportion have engaged in anal sex,” the researchers wrote.
Women 20 to 49
About 40 percent of women ages 20 to 49 and of men ages 25 to 59 have had anal sex, the study found. More than 80 percent of women aged 20 through 49, and over 85 percent of men the same age had received oral sex, the study found.
About a third of national health-care costs is related to sexuality, wrote former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders in a related editorial. For doctors to provide information and adequate treatment to their patients, they need to know what the community’s sexual behavior is, Elders wrote.
“If men don’t have accurate communication it’s because women aren’t giving it to them,” said Schwartz, of the University of Washington. “We have a long way to go with how comfortable we are with sex, and how honest we are about it.”
Women over age 50 were more likely to reach orgasm if they had sex with a casual or new acquaintance rather than in a relationship; 81 percent reported orgasm with a non-relationship partner. This compares with 58 percent reporting an orgasm with a sex partner they are in a relationship with. This may be because a long-term partner is less likely to engage in romance, flattery and attention, Schwartz said.
About 22 percent of men said they used condoms during the last 10 times they had sex; 18.4 percent of women said their male partners used condoms. The researchers suggest this is because men have more partners than women.
The people least likely to use condoms were over the age of 50, and those most likely to use condoms were adolescents, where 82.8 percent reported using the prophylactic during their last act of vaginal sex.
“Younger kids have grown up with the AIDS threat,” Schwartz said. “It’s what they expect, and if someone doesn’t want to use a condom, they’re like, ‘What, are you kidding?’ Older people don’t have the same health attention, in part because no one wants to know about their sexuality at all.”
The study surveyed a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, the researchers reported. It can’t be generalized to gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals because the sample may obscure data points involving minority groups, the authors wrote.
The study was funded by Church & Dwight Co. Inc., the makers of Trojan condoms.