Women who have sex with other women or do more than just have straightforward intercourse are more likely to have orgasms, an Australian study has definitively proved.
The latest findings from the nation's largest sexuality survey unveiled on Monday shed new light on the relationship between what lovers do in the sack and whether they experience orgasm. The sex snapshot, based on interviews with more than 19,000 people, shows that standard intercourse is by far the most common sexual practice.
About 95 per cent of those interviewed engaged in the act in their last sexual encounter, while 75 per cent also had some kind of "manual stimulation". One quarter had received oral sex and only one per cent had anal sex.
The study, published in the latest Journal of Sex Research, shows that 31.1 per cent of women having heterosexual sex in their last encounter did not have an orgasm, compared to 24 per cent of those involved in lesbian sex. Only 5.2 per cent of men did not orgasm.
The researchers, from Melbourne's La Trobe University and the Universities of Sydney and NSW, said they were surprised at the "extreme discrepancies" between men and women.
One explanation, says co-author Chris Rissel, is the heavy concentration on intercourse - more "effective" for men - as the "central, almost compulsory sexual practice" for heterosexuals.
On top of this, men want sex more than women so in long-term relationships women commonly give away "freebies", he said.
The research, part of the Australian Study of Health and Relationships, clearly showed that the more sexual practices a women engages in the more likelihood she has of orgasm. For example, less than half of women who had standard intercourse on its own had an orgasm. But those who added two variations to the repertoire had up to 90 per cent "success".
Prof Rissel said these findings challenge old fashioned attitudes to women's sexuality that blame the individual if she is unable to have an orgasm.
"Much of the research on female difficulties with orgasm or with heterosexual sex in general has focused more on indirect causes, such as upbringing, attitudes, religion, marital adjustment, anxiety, previous traumatic experience," rather than form of stimulation received, the authors wrote.
They said recent attempts had been made to "medicalise" women's sexual difficulties to create a market for female Viagra.
But their findings show that "the sexual stimulation delivered to women in the typical, rigidly-scripted heterosexual interaction has more to do with whether they reach orgasm (and we suspect, enjoy sex) than with more obscure and distant causes".