‘Sex seemed to be for men’: Why girls have their first orgasm later than boys

People are campaigning for the female orgasm to be taught in school


"Sex education in secondary school was more about why you shouldn’t have sex than anything else – all I really remember was putting a condom on a banana. I learnt everything about sex from Cosmo and Tumblr, and that’s concerning."

If you ask a group of people what they learnt in sex education, they'll more or less come back with a variation of the above. As well as this, people will tell you they learnt STIs come from unprotected sex, men ejaculate when sex is over, women get pregnant, hair grows, boobs grow, hips grow and penises grow when turned on.

Alongside solely educating teenagers on heterosexual sex (presumably any other kind is too taboo or unnecessary for the UK curriculum) there's no information on female pleasure, or specifically the female orgasm. But after a magazine interview where Labour MP Jess Phillips argued schools should teach pupils about the female orgasm, everyone's talking about it. Phillips said: "Women’s expectations should be greater. We have to start demanding more.”

A study found only 20 per cent of women orgasm from penetrative sex, meaning 80 per cent require clitoral stimulation to reach climax. So is it any wonder 95 per cent of heterosexual men "usually or always" come during sex, compared to 65 per cent of heterosexual women? When I spoke to five boys about when they first orgasmed during sex, they all said they were 15 or 16 years old. But every girl I spoke to didn't have an orgasm during sex until much later, despite being sexually active as the same time as the boys. This is what they had to say.

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"I genuinely thought my role in sex was protecting myself against pregnancy"

The first time I orgasmed during sex was like four weeks ago. It was definitely because I was more confident in knowing what I wanted and wanted to enjoy the experience. Sex education scared me off having sex, I was convinced I would get pregnant or get an STD. I think sex seemed to be for men and we were taught how to protect ourselves against men. It took me so long to come because I genuinely thought my role in sex was protecting myself against pregnancy – how sad. Cheska – first orgasmed during sex age 20

"We always spoke about male masturbation but never female masturbation"

My first orgasm was with a 28-year-old after a year and a half relationship where I didn’t orgasm once. I just think he knew what was doing because he was old. In sex education we always spoke about male masturbation but never female masturbation – I didn’t know what the clit was until I was about 17 and already having sex. Amelia – first orgasmed during sex age 18

"The sex I was having before felt mechanical and always ended with the guy ejaculating, but not me"

The first time I orgasmed during sex was when I was sleeping with a guy who was aware not all girls could come via penetrative sex – woke right? He spent a lot of time going down on me, and his ego wasn't crushed when I started touching my clit during sex. It wasn’t like the sex I was having before which felt mechanical and always ended with the guy ejaculating. I was never aware that only 20 per cent of girls can come through penetrative sex because the sex education I received was so functional: girl + boy + condom = safe sex. My enjoyment or intimacy with the person I was sleeping with was never made important. Hannah – first orgasmed during sex age 22

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"The emphasis is definitely on the guy coming"

I’ve only orgasmed a few times with penetration but even then it was from clit stimulation with his fingers rather than just purely because of penetration. The emphasis is definitely on the guy coming, and once they’re done it’s game over. When I was younger there was so much worry about getting pregnant or getting an STI that I just didn’t enjoy sex in the same way I do now. It’s also so reassuring to know that 80 per cent of girls can’t come through penetrative sex anyway so I’m definitely not alone when I don’t come. Grace – first orgasmed during sex age 21

"I’d been faking it with my ex"

I first orgasmed age 19. I’d been faking it with my ex, who I was with for three years. I sort of knew I wasn’t actually orgasming, but it felt good because we were so in love and we had fun together. So I carried on faking it under the pretence that I swore I could feel "something". But there was never much focus on my clit, it was always just penetration, and I knew it wasn’t doing it for me. Katie – first orgasmed during sex age 19

"I felt far more confident touching myself and becoming more involved in the sex psychologically"

I was with a guy for over a year when I first became sexually active. Although he was really nice and a lovely boyfriend, our sex was just "meh". In hindsight I now think that maybe psychologically I wasn’t in the right place, my previous relationship was more about hanging out and being a couple, whereas the guy I started seeing during my first year of uni was far more about being attracted to me (and I to him). Our sex was so much more intense, and although we weren’t necessarily doing anything different to me and my previous boyfriend, I felt far more confident touching myself and becoming more involved in the sex psychologically, and generally feeling sexier. Since I broke up with him my sex life has been pretty crap, I think it’s more about (for me, anyway) who I vibe with sexually rather than who does what in the bedroom. Lillian – first orgasmed during sex at 19

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"I figured out what having an orgasm is like and what turns me on"

I was one of those girls who genuinely thought I couldn’t orgasm during sex. Turns out I didn’t know anything about being able to come from clit stimulation. I randomly invested in a vibrator a year ago and discovered that I in fact, could orgasm. And then when I figured out what having an orgasm is like and what turns me on, I was able to have actual orgasms during sex too. Sex before orgasms felt so incomplete. I’ve been sexually active for like nine years, so it was a shock to learn I hadn’t ever had a proper orgasm for all that time. Hanna – first orgasmed during sex at 22

"Porn shows the girl coming at the same time as a guy, which made me think 'am I broken?'"

I've never orgasmed with actual penetration – it just hasn't happened. I was so confused for so long because films and porn show the girl comes at the same time as a guy, which made me think "am I broken?" At school my sex education comprised of teachers giving us a piece of paper, saying “draw what you are attracted to” and we had to show the class – the message was that you'll have a lot of partners who look different. But everything I know about sex I learnt from the guy I was sleeping with, who was hella misogynistic so guess how that went! Anna – hasn’t orgasmed yet during sex

Other articles this writer also recommends:

We are the girls who can’t come from sex and we will not be silenced

What girls actually want to hear during sex, by girls

We asked girls for the most awkward times they’ve been caught having sex