Have you ever wondered whether sex feels the same for your partner? If their gender is different than yours, is their experience when having sex automatically different?
Well, someone’s gender identity does not dictate what experiences are being made when having sex. Questions like ‘How to have sex?’, ‘How often to have sex?’ and ‘With whom to have sex?’ are answered based on socialization and cultural expectations – this is what makes a difference.
Speaking about men and women, it needs to be mentioned that most research on the topic is focused on cisgender* men and women, leaving out gender nonbinary and gender nonconforming humans.
[*term used for individuals whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they had or were identified as having at birth, for example: A person identifying as a woman who was born with a vagina and identified as female, is cisgender.]
In the 1960s/1970s, research on human sexuality was based on the assumption that everyone experiences four stages of sexual arousal: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. For a long time, women’s pleasure was not spoken about, it had been neglected culturally and there was a lack of sex education.
Here are some male and female sexual characteristics. Since sexuality is such a broad topic, this list itself is not meant to be exhaustive; rather, this is meant to provide some context:
There is growing evidence that women are more likely to change their sexual orientation over time – they seem to be more flexible. Men tend to be more categorical, meaning: Most men are either homosexual or heterosexual and this remains the same throughout their lifetime.
In 2000, R. Baumeister published a paper about ‘Gender differences in erotic plasticity’ in which he proposed that men have a fixed, biologically-determined sex drive that is insensitive to context while women have a more variable sex drive that is influenced by their surroundings.
Humans raised as boys often experienced an encouragement of free sexuality while those raised as girls were encouraged to focus on controlling or even denying their sexuality. Often, this is referred to as the sexual double standard.
In general, research shows that men think more often about sex and demonstrate more interest in sexual activities. They also rate their sex drive higher than females of the same age.
Humans of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations can masturbate and feel pleasure doing so. It is a great method to start learning about sexuality, having orgasms, and figuring out what one likes and does not like.
Research shows that men are more likely to masturbate. They start masturbating at an earlier age and do it more often than females.
According to research, both cisgender men and women described the experience of having an orgasm using terms like ‘pleasurable satisfaction’, ‘relaxation’, emotional intimacy’, ‘ecstasy’, ‘building, flooding, flushing, shooting or throbbing sensation’. Therefore, orgasms seem to be experienced similarly across genders.
Humans born with vaginas, however, are more likely to experience multiple orgasms than those born with penises. Also, women take longer to reach an orgasm during vaginal intercourse (keyword: orgasm gap). This might be one of the reasons for women to fake orgasms more often than men.
Most women would choose to have sex within a committed relationship while men show more permissive attitudes – sex before marriage and sex outside of marriage seem to be more okay for men than women, according to research.
Therefore, women fantasize more about having sex with someone they are committed to and are familiar with and show affection to this person with the goal of having intimacy. Men are less like that and are more likely to have sex with strangers.
Both males and females can experience sexual issues. Premature orgasms, erectile, and orgasm difficulties are common sexual issues described by humans with penises. Those with vaginas can also face difficulties in reaching orgasms and further experience vaginal dryness and low sexual enjoyment for example.
Yes, sex is different for men and women. How an individual’s sexuality is shaped is influenced by the cultural background and religious beliefs. An individual’s past experiences as well as their mental health also plays a role in how they experience sex.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.