Do men and women experience sexuality differently?
You’ve probably learned a ton of myths about your sexuality. Today we are going to break one of them: that men and women experience sexuality in very different ways.
Sexuality is a broad term for how we understand our bodies, our gender, and our relationships.
This means that, despite the common misconception, sexuality is about more than being “gay” or “straight”. Your sexual orientation is only one facet of your sexuality.
Other components that make up your sexuality include your:
- the sex assigned at birth and the gender to which you were socialized
- gender identity
- sexual and romantic orientations
- values and beliefs around sex, as well as those for which you were raised
- libido, interest in sex, and physiological and physical signs of desire and arousal
- kinks, fetishes and sexual preferences
- relationship to your body, sex and pleasure
- trauma story
- past sexual experiences
Usually when people ask, “How are men and women different sexually?” (Or something similar), they specifically ask about cisgender women and men – or people whose sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity.
Gender ≠ gender
When a person’s sex matches their assigned sex at birth, they are considered cisgender.
For example, a person who is born with a vagina, is assigned a female at birth, and later identifies as female is considered cisgender.
When a person’s sex assigned at birth is NOT consistent with their gender, they can be considered transgender, non-binary, or agen, to name a few different gender identities.
For example, a person who was assigned a male gender at birth and who later identifies as something other than exclusively male or exclusively male may fall elsewhere on the gender spectrum.
At Healthline, however, we aim to be more inclusive than that. So, for the purposes of this article, when we say “men”, we are talking about all men, that is, cisgender and transgender men.
And, when we say women, we mean all women, that is, cisgender and transgender women. We’ll also include an overview with regards to non-binary and other gender non-conforming people.
Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the studies on this topic focus only on cisgender men and cisgender women and exclude non-binary and gender nonconforming people entirely. (Here,
Curious what these studies have shown, knowing they could be more inclusive? Here is the quick of it.
Compared to cisgender women, cisgender men:
- show greater interest in sex
- link aggression more to sexuality
- place less importance on engagement in their sexual relationships
- experience more stagnation and less adaptability in their sexual orientation
However, (and this is important!) It does NOT mean that cisgender men are naturally and naturally all of these things. Sex Toy Collective expert, clinical sex therapist Sarah Melancon, PhD says education and culture play a huge role.
“Men and women are socialized differently and face different cultural expectations about sex,” she says, adding that this can affect when, how, how often and with whom they have sex. (More on this below.)
“Whether you were born with a penis or a vulva will undoubtedly influence sexual sensation to some extent,” says Justin Lehmiller, PhD, social psychologist and researcher at the Kinsey Institute and author of “Tell Me What You Want: The The science of sexual desire and how it can help improve your sex life.
Why? Because the mechanics of how you have sex, as well as how you reach orgasm, will be different.
“We know, for example, that people born with vulvae are more likely to have multiple orgasms than people with a penis,” he says.
People with a penis also have a longer refractory period than those without.
That said, “there are still many similarities in the way people of all biological sexes experience their sexuality,” notes Melancon.
Generally speaking, people who have been socialized as girls learn to be much more averse to sex than people who have been cultivated as boys.
While the specific culture, religion, and society you grew up in dictate the exact messages you receive, boys typically learn that masturbation is normal and that having sex with as many people as possible increases. their freshness factor.
During this time, girls are often taught that masturbation is dirty and sex should wait until marriage.
“Culturally, manhood is partly based on the encouragement of free sexuality, while femininity is centered on negation or control,” says Melancon. This is often referred to as the “double sex standard”.
While this sounds positive for men, it can have negative consequences as well, she says.
“It makes men ashamed of having fewer partners or sexual experiences, encourages men to take more sexual risks, and negates men’s emotional needs in intimate relationships.”
If you are reading this, you are probably asking yourself specific questions such as “Do women like sex?” And “Are orgasms the same for men and women?” So let’s get into it.
People of all genders can and do masturbate
Society often touts masturbation as a boy’s game. But masturbation is something that people of all genders and ages can enjoy.
“We need to do more to normalize female masturbation,” says Lehmiller.
Because, just like with boys and men, masturbation is also how many non-men first explore their sexuality, experience orgasm, and discover pleasure, he says.
Gender is not what determines if someone enjoys sex
A lot of people learn that women don’t like sex. Of course, some women don’t like sex, but that general statement is BS!
“The idea that men love sex and not women is a myth that must go,” says Lehmiller. “[People] of any gender can love and enjoy sex ”- just as people of any gender can dislike sex.
Whether someone says they like sex, as well as whether someone is asexual or queer, are much better indicators of whether someone enjoys sex.
People of all genders have the ability to please themselves during sex
We must not say it… and yet we must say it.
“The pleasure of women is a topic that has long been neglected culturally, as well as in sex education,” says Lehmiller. “The result is that women’s pleasure was less of a priority during sex. ”
This is called the “pleasure gap”.
But women (and other gender minorities) * can * experience pleasure while gambling.
Other facts that influence whether a person experiences pleasure during sex, according to Lehmiller, include factors such as:
- sex story
- Mental Health
- relational dynamics
- stress and distraction
Orgasms generally feel similar for most sexes
There are a number of ways that cisgender men and women can achieve orgasm.
But Lehmiller says research comparing the descriptions of cisgender men and cisgender women of what an orgasm looks like found that both sexes gave similar responses. (The research did not interview people of other genders.)
Common descriptors of orgasm for cisgender men and cisgender women included:
- pleasant satisfaction
- emotional intimacy
- feeling of building, flooding, flushing, shooting or throbbing
The takeaway: “Feelings of sexual pleasure actually seem quite similar between the sexes,” says Lehmiller.
Sexual dysfunction may look similar between the sexes
There are both similarities and differences in sexual difficulties for men, women, and gender nonconforming people.
However, penis owners of any gender are more likely to report:
And people with a vagina of any gender are more likely to report:
There are many, but here are a few.
Cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs and educations
Cultural and religious teachings around sexuality can shape an individual’s sexual behavior.
“Many cultures and religions only allow sex under strict circumstances,” says Melancon. “Hearing these negative and shameful sexual messages can affect someone’s sexual experience as a teenager,” [and] as a married adult.
“Any type of trauma can lead to deregulation of the nervous system [interfering with the physiology of sexuality] and lead to trust and intimacy issues, ”says Melancon.
Examples of trauma are:
- difficult deliveries
- natural disasters
- car accidents
- sexual trauma
“Sexual trauma has additional sex-based triggers that can occur in the moment, leading to avoidance, flashbacks, panic or numbness around sex,” she notes.
According to Melancon, a person’s relationship to their sexuality can be affected by:
“Stress and burnout can also affect sex as it affects the nervous system and hormones, generally reducing sexual desire, arousal and pleasure,” she adds.
It’s a loaded question like hell. This article is a good overview of the topic, but if you have more specific questions, you may consider consulting the following texts:
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based Sex and Wellness writer and Level 1 CrossFit trainer. She became a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and ate, drank, and brushed with charcoal. – all in the name of journalism. In her spare time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench press or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.