Faking the Big O: A Study

Nearly 2 in 5 men have admitted to faking an orgasm during sex. We surveyed 1,119 people to better understand who’s having orgasms and how.

Last updated: Sep 5th, 2023
Faking the big O

At the height of sexual arousal, the body releases all of the tension built up during sexual activity in an orgasm. For many, this experience involves intense feelings of physical pleasure, either isolated to the genitals or radiated throughout the entire body. During an orgasm, our brains get flooded with dopamine and oxytocin. This reinforces our desire to repeat the process and generates feelings of deep attachment if other people are involved.

However, orgasms are not distributed evenly throughout the population. Men tend to have more orgasms than women, people in committed relationships tend to have more orgasms than those just hooking up, lesbians tend to have more orgasms than straight women, and women tend to have more orgasms when they masturbate alone.

Since we know these disparities exist, are Americans attempting to close the gap? And how might your sexual preferences contribute to the frequency and regularity of orgasms? We asked 1,119 people to find out.

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Key takeaways

  • The number one hindrance to having an orgasm for our participants was their partner’s breath (40%).
  • The number one reason both men and women fake an orgasm is the simple desire for sex to be over (23.1%).
  • Through both masturbation and partnered sex, our survey respondents claimed to be averaging 4.8 orgasms per week.
  • Our married participants average more orgasms per week (4.8) than our single participants (4.5) or those in domestic partnerships (4.1).
  • Our male participants had slightly more orgasms per week than our female participants (4.7 vs. 4.2).

Survey overview

The orgasm gap — the difference in the average number of orgasms between men and women — is a relatively well-known phenomenon, but we wanted to investigate its specifics. Across genders and generations, we wanted to know who’s having orgasms, how often, with whom, and what techniques people use to expedite the process. How many orgasms were faked, and why do people pretend to have them? And, perhaps most importantly, we wanted to know what people think prevents them from achieving regular orgasms.

We asked 1,119 individuals a series of questions regarding their relationships and sexual preferences to better understand individual differences in orgasm count, quality, and reality.

Who is having the most orgasms?

Who is having the most orgasms?

On average, our survey participants reported engaging in masturbation once or twice a week and having sex with a partner another one or two times every week, for an average of 4.8 orgasms per week. While we found that some trends align with popular conceptions of orgasm frequency — men orgasm more often than women, and people in long-term relationships have sex less often than couples in the honeymoon period — some people have far more orgasms than you might think.

Married couples

The vast majority of our respondents (91.2%) were currently living with a partner. Most of them were married (83%), some were dating (11.8%), and a handful were in domestic partnerships (4.6%). Of these three groups, we found our married participants were averaging more orgasms per week (4.8) than our single participants (4.5) or those in domestic partnerships (4.1).

It’s a common assumption in American culture that once you get married, your sex life crashes and burns. Even if this is true, a decline in the frequency of sex doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in the overall gratification derived from having sex. As trust and compatibility increase, so can sexual satisfaction, which could explain why our married respondents were having more orgasms than our less-committed respondents — even if they might be having less sex overall. Compared to their first marriages, people who have gotten remarried also tend to have more regular sex, a factor that wasn’t accounted for in our study.

Those with kids living at home

Overall, most of our respondents (81.7%) stated they had children at home. But to our surprise, this group reported having significantly more orgasms per week (4.6) than those without children or without children still living at home (3.9). Perhaps, as more young adults than ever before continue to live at home, our participants in this situation have had to become more purposeful and efficient in terms of having and enjoying regular sex.

In for the long haul

Just over half of our total number of respondents (55.1%) had been in their current relationships anywhere from three to 10 years, while less than a quarter (17.6%) had been with their current partner(s) for less than two years. The rest had been in the same relationship for 11 years or more.

Unlike marriage, a longer relationship didn’t translate to more orgasms in our survey. In fact, there was a clear correlation between the novelty of the relationship and orgasm frequency. The group averaging the most orgasms per week (4.8) had been in their current relationships for less than two years. In contrast, the population who reported experiencing the fewest orgasms (4.2) had been with their partner for 11 years or more.

Many of us readily assume that intimacy will fade as our relationship persists, and that belief has stuck around for a reason: it often does. As time goes by, many people become increasingly dissatisfied with their partners. Only those couples willing to adapt can maintain, or in some cases increase, the amount of relationship satisfaction they feel. Even the most passionate romances can fail if true intimacy is not given a chance to develop. Know, however, that falling into lulls and ruts is perfectly normal, especially as you age together and priorities shift.

Young and adventurous

On average, we found that our Gen Z participants (4.9) had slightly more orgasms per week than their millennial (4.6) or Gen X (4.0) counterparts. According to a 2015 CDC report, there’s been a decline in sexual activity among millennials and Gen Z. However, a 2018 survey involving Australian teenagers reported Gen Zers are actually having slightly more sex in their teenage years than millennials and Gen Xers were in theirs. Gen Zers also appear to be more open-minded, curious, and sexually explorative than the older generations, which could be precisely why they achieve more orgasms. The Internet and dating apps, which have increased access to pornography and the chances of meeting someone, certainly don’t hurt that increased rate either.

The gender gap

As expected, our male participants claimed to be having slightly more orgasms per week than did our female participants (4.7 vs. 4.2). Prior research tells us, however, that an even bigger divide exists here: nearly all heterosexual men (95%), followed by gay men (89%) and bisexual men (88%), have consistent orgasms at some point during sex, while the reliability of reaching orgasm for homosexual women (86%), bisexual women (66%), and heterosexual women (65%) is far less.

Women are more likely to orgasm if deep kissing, manual genital stimulation, or oral sex (in addition to vaginal intercourse) are part of their sexual experience. Studies also show that women are more likely to reach orgasm when they:

  • Receive more oral sex
  • Have sex for longer durations
  • Are more satisfied with their relationship
  • Ask for what they want in bed
  • Praise their partner(s) for something they did in bed
  • Call, text, or email their partner(s) and suggest doing something sexual
  • Wear sexy lingerie
  • Try new sexual positions
  • Use anal stimulation
  • Act out fantasies
  • Incorporate sexy talk
  • Express feelings of love during sex

What are top sexual positions for achieving an orgasm?

What are the top sexual positions for orgasm?

The plurality of our respondents (51.7%) claimed that doggy style was the most conducive to reaching orgasm; the classic missionary position came in a close second (39.4%). After that, our participants got a bit more adventurous, naming cowgirl (35.9%) and reverse cowgirl (21.3%) as the positions providing them the most bang for their buck.

The top five most reliable positions for reaching orgasm for women were:

  1. Doggy style
  2. Missionary
  3. Cowgirl
  4. Oral
  5. Manual stimulation (fingering)

Men found the most pleasure from:

  1. Doggy style
  2. Missionary
  3. Cowgirl
  4. Reverse cowgirl
  5. 69

According to a 2022 study published in the journal Sexologies, researchers found the position most likely to facilitate a female orgasm is missionary (with a pillow situated under the woman’s pelvis). To make this determination, the researchers measured blood flow to the clitoris before and after the participants had sex in five different positions:

  • Face-to-face with the female on top
  • Sitting face-to-face
  • Face-to-face with the male on top (with and without pillow assist)
  • Kneeling with rear entry (doggy style)

The study only involved one heterosexual couple, who had sex under the close observation of two researchers, so it certainly had its shortcomings. But, in the end, they discovered that all positions — except for doggy style — increased blood flow to the clitoris. These results certainly support the popularity of the missionary position expressed by our participants, but they also leave some lingering questions about the universally reported reliability of doggy style.

What are the top methods for facilitating an orgasm?

According to both our male and female respondents, the number one factor leading to more orgasms is good old-fashioned romance. A strong romantic connection with a partner corresponds nicely with what we know about the impact intimacy has on facilitating orgasms.

The top five methods for facilitating an orgasm include:

  1. Romance (44.2%)
  2. Dim lighting (30.9%)
  3. Lubrication (28.7%)
  4. Toys (27.7%)
  5. Pornography (27.6%)

The least popular methods for achieving orgasm were scratching, mirrors, choking, and heading out for a fancy dinner. Our study’s participants preferred factors related to bedroom atmosphere (romance and dim lighting) as well as practical tools (lubrication, toys, and pornography) over more explorative sexual methods (scratching, mirrors, and choking).

The power of romance

In a study on sexual diversity in the U.S., researchers asked more than 2,000 participants how appealing they found more than 50 sexual behaviors. The five behaviors female respondents reported to be “very appealing” supported the connection we found between romance and achieving more regular orgasms.

The top five “very appealing” behaviors for women were:

  1. Vaginal intercourse (70%)
  2. Cuddling more often (62%)
  3. Kissing more often during sex (49%)
  4. Saying sweet, romantic things during sex (47%)
  5. Give or receive a massage before sex (46%)

The study’s male participants, on the other hand, favored somewhat more self-indulgent behaviors:

  1. Vaginal intercourse (73%)
  2. Receiving oral sex (61%)
  3. Having sex more often (58%)
  4. Watching partner undress (46%)
  5. Kissing more often during sex (43%)

Playing with toys

According to our study, women are more likely to regularly utilize sex toys than men when attempting to achieve an orgasm (41.2% vs. 35.3%). We also found that the youngest generation, Gen Z (53.5%) — compared to Gen X (30.2%) or millennials (37%) — is the generation most likely to incorporate some hardware when looking to get the job done right.

However, the low percentages we discovered across all demographics were a bit surprising — given the global market for sex toys is predicted to reach $62.32 billion by the year 2030. When it comes to turning people on and getting them off, traditional methods like mood lighting and back rubs continue to pass the test of time.


More commonly associated with women, anorgasmia is the experience of having delayed, less-intense, infrequent, or no orgasms after sexual stimulation. Anorgasmia can be a lifelong experience, appear suddenly, or happen only in certain situations, and it can be caused or exacerbated by a range of personal and psychological factors:

  • Past sexual or emotional abuse
  • Lack of knowledge about sexual stimulation or interactions
  • Poor body image
  • Guilt or embarrassment about sex
  • Cultural or religious beliefs about sex
  • Stress, anxiety, or depression

Relationship issues, such as a lack of emotional intimacy, unresolved conflict, poor communication, infidelity, domestic violence, or sexual dysfunction in your partner (such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation), can all contribute to anorgasmia.

Other potential barriers to orgasm include:

  • Long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, overactive bladder, or multiple sclerosis
  • Tissue damage from gynecologic surgeries, such as hysterectomy or cancer surgery
  • Medications (prescription and over-the-counter)
  • Alcohol and smoking
  • Changes associated with age, such as menopause
  • Related sexual problems, such as little or no desire for sex, pain from sexual intercourse or other sexual stimulation, dryness of the vagina or vulva, or involuntary tightening of the vagina (vaginismus)
  • Low libido and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD)

While it’s more common in women, men can also experience anorgasmia, typically as delayed or inhibited ejaculation. This can quickly lead to problems with sexual performance, decreased pleasure, and anxiety surrounding sex, leading some men to avoid sex altogether. For men, anorgasmia usually presents in one of two ways:

  1. To the best of your knowledge, you have never had an orgasm or ejaculated
  2. You can only orgasm or ejaculate when specific conditions are present

But even if many of the same psychological, physiological, and relational factors related to anorgasmia apply to men, this is a much more common issue for women, which could be why our female participants reported having fewer orgasms. Likewise, our findings that women get the most turned on by shared activities, whereas men prefer self-focused activities, point toward an unequal distribution of pleasure.

Who is faking their orgasms?

Who is faking their orgasms?

Nearly half of all respondents (42.8%) admitted having faked an orgasm. Women, we found, are more likely to fake an orgasm than men (45.7% vs. 38.2%). There are several reasons, both physical and psychological, that might make it difficult for you to reach orgasm and decide to fake one.

The top five factors most likely to hinder an orgasm were:

  1. Partner’s breath (40%)
  2. The position (32.3%)
  3. The room temperature (31.5%)
  4. The lighting (31.1%)
  5. My overthinking (30%)

The three factors least likely to hinder an orgasm were:

  1. Drugs (11.4%)
  2. Medication (10.8%)
  3. Marijuana (9.9%)

Despite the clear pattern here, a contradiction exists: 65.3% of our respondents also claimed their doctor-prescribed medication was negatively impacting their ability to have regular orgasms. It’s possible their problems are psychosomatic, especially given the prevalence of overthinking they reported. It’s also possible the sexual issues they’re experiencing are related to the type of medication they take.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, some over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants are known to cause erectile dysfunction and make it difficult to have consistent orgasms. Drug-related sexual dysfunction, though, is much more commonly associated with prescription medications. Here are some common prescriptions that may drop your sex drive or ability to orgasm:


Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil); monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as phenelzine (Nardil); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac); and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as venlafaxine (Effexor).

Antipsychotic and mood stabilizing medications

Thioridazine (Mellaril), thiothixene (Navane), and haloperidol (Haldol); and lithium carbonate (Eskalith and Lithobid).


Thiazides (Diuril and Naturetin)

Antihypertensive medications

Centrally acting agents such as methyldopa (Aldomet) and reserpine (Serpasil and Raudixin); alpha-adrenergic blockers such as prazosin (Minipress) and terazosin (Hytrin); and beta-adrenergic blockers such as propranolol (Inderal) and metoprolol (Lopressor).

Hormone therapy

Leuprolide (Lupron), goserelin (Zoladex), and spironolactone (Aldactone).

The various pharmaceuticals that can potentially disrupt sexual activity and enjoyment could fill a medicine cabinet, which could be why many of our respondents pointed toward their prescriptions when asked why they’ve faked orgasms. (We should note that alcohol ranked 7th on the list of factors that most hindered our participants; they ranked their partner’s penis size 6th.)

Why do people fake their orgasms?

The number one reason our participants gave for faking an orgasm was that they simply wanted it to be over (23.1%). Among different generations, millennials (48.2%) reported doing almost twice as much acting in the bedroom than either Gen X (20.5%) or Gen Z (27.9%). And when we compared the motivations of men and women, surprisingly, their answers were nearly aligned.

The top five reasons women faked an orgasm:

  1. Wanted it to be over (23.7%)
  2. Didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings (21%)
  3. Fake it till you make it (12.5%)
  4. It’s a turn-on (9.8%)
  5. Didn’t want to explain why they couldn’t orgasm (9.4%)

The top five reasons men faked an orgasm:

  1. Wanted it to be over (21%)
  2. Didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings (15.1%)
  3. It’s a turn-on (14.6%)
  4. Fake it till you make it (13.7%)
  5. Partner enjoys it (12.3%)

According to recent mating psychology research, there are five main reasons most people pretend to have an orgasm:

  • Positive feedback
  • Enhancing pleasure
  • Avoidance
  • Mate deception
  • Sexual boredom

This roughly aligns with the reasons our participants gave. Studies have shown that women generally fake it more often to enhance positive feedback, while men fake it more to avoid the awkwardness of not ejaculating. Ultimately, the underlying motivation to fake an orgasm largely depends on your relationship goals and overall interpersonal style of connection and communication.


We wanted to know how orgasms are distributed across the genders and generations. We also wanted to know what techniques people were using to expedite this process. And, perhaps most importantly, we wanted to know what people thought most inhibited them from achieving regular orgasms. We asked 1,119 individuals a series of questions regarding their relationships and sexual preferences, in the hope of bettering understanding not only who is having orgasms and how, but also who is faking them and why.

Fair use statement

Innerbody Research is committed to providing objective, science-based suggestions, and research to help our readers make more informed decisions regarding health and wellness. We invested the time and effort into creating this report to broaden the general understanding of what it takes to achieve orgasm, as well as destigmatize the concept of faking orgasms. We hope to reach as many people as possible by making this information widely available. As such, please feel free to share our content for educational, editorial, or discussion purposes. We only ask that you link back to this page and credit the author as Innerbody.com.


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