Orgasm Imperative: Are we expecting too much from sex?

Now we know

Sad couple in bed landscape.jpg
Sad couple in bed landscape.jpg

Now we know

Science has given us a lot of interesting research on the 'O' subject recently, from why orgasms feel SO good to why it's impossible for some women to orgasm during sex. And now we have the orgasm imperative theory.

Scientists are now warning that getting too used to orgasms could actually be harmful to our mental health, and have named the emotional risk the ‘orgasm imperative’.

After shouting down the idea immediately, (how could expecting regular orgasms possibly be a bad thing?), we are now coming round to the reasoning behind it.

‘Orgasm Imperative’ is the term given to the pressure to climax during sex by couples across the globe. Although it doesn’t sound too problematic, the failure to make your partner come can cause huge emotional distress.

In current society, an orgasm is required in order to validate the act as ‘sex’. Both parties are expected to achieve climax (in perfect unison and harmony according to every Hollywood film ever made), and if one of the two fails to do so, the ‘sex’ is deemed a disappointment and sometimes declassified to ‘foreplay’ or even just a ‘fondle’.

‘Why didn’t I manage to satisfy them?’ ‘What did I do wrong?’ ‘Did they not enjoy themselves?’ ‘Will they find someone else who can?’ Shame and guilt are common emotions when it comes to sex, and for what? It’s all natural.

Planned Parenthood statistics show that 30% of women have trouble reaching an orgasm during sex, with female sexual dysfunction rates as high as 43%. An inability to climax doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem, it can be down to anything from insufficient clitoral stimulation to mood and timing in some cases. You're also much less likely to orgasm if your partner has this trait. 

We put far too much pressure on orgasms, with many people using it to judge their technique and to reassure themselves that their partner is still interested and engaged. By expecting to climax on a regular basis, we are setting our partners unrealistic goals and expectations that they simply cannot meet, causing shame, anxiety and guilt.

Many people struggle to orgasm and it’s ok to admit that. Removing the pressures from orgasms will lead to a much healthier and more enjoyable sex life.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.