Perhaps you’re thinking that it doesn’t hurt to fake an orgasm once in a while.

Sometimes you’re tired and just want sex to end or you don’t want to make your partner feel insecure about not helping you climax. Maybe your lover has pleasured your body for 45 minutes and even though it feels great, your orgasm remains beyond the horizon and it embarrasses you or causes guilt. If any of these sound familiar, you’re not alone.

Research studies offer us a lot of insight into trends within sex and sexuality. One study in 2017 by Shirazi, Renfro, Lloyd, & Wallen, found that men who have sex with women reported their partners achieving orgasm at higher rates (between 41-70% of the time). But women who have sex with men reported achieving orgasm (between 21-60% of the time).

Other studies have found that straight and bisexual women orgasm at much lower rates than lesbians who are orgasming at similar rates to gay and bisexual men. For example, Frederick, St. John, Garcia, & Lloyd’s data revealed that “heterosexual men were most likely to say they usually-always orgasmed when sexually intimate (95%), followed by gay men (89%), bisexual men (88%), lesbian women (86%), bisexual women (66%), and heterosexual women (65%)” (2017). Whether or not you’re good at math, you probably realize there are gender influenced pleasure discrepancies (neither study mentions whether they included transmen and transwomen).

If you’re somebody whose partner has thought you got off because you faked it or because they are simply not paying attention to your needs, I want you to hear this message: YOUR PLEASURE MATTERS. You have the right to an orgasm if your body desires it (within a consensual sexual experience) and you have the right to decide to stop engaging without reaching orgasm (aka without the pressure to fake it). The decisions you make are yours alone, BUT it does no one any favors to pretend you’ve orgasmed when you haven’t because…

Dishonesty doesn’t lead to better sex. In fact, your sex life might suffer or already be suffering. Your partners will think they know how to bring you to orgasm and what it looks like when you do, but they’ll be wrong. They’ll continue to use this inaccurate information in an attempt to keep doing what you seem to enjoy, which will lead to you continue to miss out on orgasms or even just pleasure if you don’t redirect them. This continued sexual frustration and disappointment can lead to feeling resentful towards them, sex, and even yourself.

You may also feel the need to keep up the charade of faking if you don’t want them to feel like they are suddenly doing something wrong. In attempting to avoid causing your partner insecurity, you might develop it yourself. You might feel guilty letting your body take its time to orgasm or letting it make its natural sounds, movements, etc. As lies grow, we become more attached to ensuring we don’t get found out, which feeds an awful cycle of more faking.

Luckily, there’s a solution! Tell yourself you’re done. You’ve faked your last orgasm. From now on, you will encourage your partners to do things that feel good and if you orgasm, great, and if you don’t, you’ll say so and decide if you want to take another course of action. Be clear about your choice to not fake anytime you start with a new partner, so you get into the practice of honoring your body’s responses.

If you’re currently with someone(s) and you’re faking, there are ways to get out of the faking rut. If your lover(s) is a supportive person, be honest about the fact that you have been faking and that you no longer want to. Let them know what you need to be open and comfortable around receiving pleasure. As someone who needs a lot of dedicated time, my favorite dirty talk is when a partner tells me how much they love pleasuring me and that they can do it all day/night. Even if this isn’t true (fingers and tongues get tired – no shame!), it communicates dedication to my pleasure and alleviates feelings of shame, which makes me more likely to orgasm.

If you’re unsure about what to say to your partner, start by telling them what they do that feels good. They are likely eager to offer you pleasure so you can begin with what they already do well and then start adding new things you want to try. Explore the new together with curiosity – through specific techniques, roles, or sex toys (these are also great in the case of fatigue). The article comparing orgasm rate by sexual orientation found several acts/behaviors that correlated with higher orgasm rates for women including oral sex, sending teasing texts/email, sexy talk, wearing sexy lingerie, acting out fantasies, and (hint hint) asking what you want.

Lastly, discuss what happens if orgasm simply isn’t on the menu at a particular time. There is a lot of pressure to always perform, regardless of gender, and it’s not helpful. While not valuing your pleasure is an issue, so is believing that you have to orgasm, or perform an orgasm, for yourself and your partner.

Interested in discussing your experiences or in receiving support around these topics? Email [email protected].

Yael R. Rosenstock Gonzalez

Yael R. Rosenstock Gonzalez

Sex Educator, Researcher, Author, Speaker
Yael R Rosenstock Gonzalez is a sex educator, researcher, author, speaker, and curriculum developer. As a queer, polyamorous, white-presenting Nuyorican Jew, Yael has always been interested in understanding the multi-level experiences of individuals. This led her to found Kaleidoscope Vibrations, LLC, a company dedicated to supporting and creating spaces for individuals to explore and find community in their personal identities. Through her company, she facilitates workshops, develops curriculum, offers Identity Exploration Coaching, and publishes narratives often left out of mainstream publishing.

Yael has been engaged in workshop development and facilitation since she joined the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) as a teen peer reproductive rights educator at 15 years old. Since then, she has served as an educator with children ranging from 10 months old to adults in their 70s with different organizations and communities. In her work as first Program Coordinator, then Director of Programming, and finally Associate Director of the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding, Yael developed and led events, workshops, and programs with an intersectionality lens.