Summary: Survey study identifies four main techniques women feel enhance their sexual pleasure. Researchers say understanding the dynamics of pleasure and satisfaction experienced during sexual encounters is critical to good sexual health overall.
To provide women with specific language they can use to better understand, communicate and advocate for their sexual pleasure–and add to scientific understanding of an understudied topic– a nationally representative survey of US women names and describes techniques women use to increase their pleasure during vaginal penetration.
The findings were presented in a study published April 14, 2021 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Dr. Devon J. Hensel, Associate Professor of Research at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Dr. Christiana von Hippel, an OMGYES Research Scientist.
Many international sexual and reproductive health organizations name “pleasurable and satisfying” sexual experiences as an intrinsic component of good sexual health, as well as health more holistically.
Currently, existing research on sexual health and behavior in women tends to focus on the body part or object that’s penetrating or stimulating the vagina (eg a penis or a sex toy), instead of the penetration or stimulation techniques women themselves use during sex. Popular media resources also tend to be limited in scope or use ambiguous terms to describe intercourse techniques.
To better understand and describe the vaginal stimulation and penetration techniques US women personally use (with their partners or on their own) to increase their own pleasure during sex, the authors conducted pilot surveys with 4,270 English-speaking women from around the world, then surveyed 3,017 US women with a 90-item survey, the Second OMGYES Pleasure Report, to focus on four specific techniques that emerged and were previously unnamed in the literature: “Angling”, “Rocking”, “Shallowing”, and “Pairing”.
The second OMGYES Pleasure Report received responses from 3,017 US women, ranging in age from 18-93, using sampling methods that provide a statistically valid representation of the U.S. population as well as many under-researched and often harder-to-reach populations across ethnicity, economic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and internet access.
When asked whether the sexual techniques mentioned in the survey made sex more pleasurable, 87.5 percent of the respondents used “Angling” (rotating, raising, or lowering the pelvis/hips during penetration to adjust where inside the vagina the toy or penis rubs). Approximately 76 percent used “Rocking”, where the base of a penis or sex toy rubs against the clitoris constantly during penetration by staying all the way inside the vagina rather than thrusting in and out.
About 84 percent used “Shallowing,” or penetrative touch just inside of the entrance of the vagina. Finally, 69.7 percent used “Pairing,” when a woman or her partner reaches down to stimulate her clitoris with a finger or sex toy simultaneously with penetration.
While the study is limited in that it focused only on women, not their partners, and didn’t ask about relationship factors in technique choice or pleasure, the authors suggest this can be part of future work in this area.
For now, these nationally representative results validate that women choose a range of different approaches to vaginal penetration/stimulation to increase their pleasure.
By naming these techniques and sub-techniques, this work also provides language for women to potentially better identify their own preferences, as well as communicate and advocate for their own sexual pleasure.
“We asked thousands of women what they do to experience more pleasure from penetrative sex and found there are four techniques that work for most women,” explains Dr. von Hippel.
“Our company, OMGYES.com, gave them descriptive names and created tasteful diagrams, animations and videos of women of all ages explaining their own experiences. We hope bringing this important knowledge out of the shadows into the light of day with clear language will empower women to better recognize, communicate and act on what they want.”
Julia Robinson, PLOS ONE senior editor, adds: “PLOS ONE believes that it is important to publish this study because it contributes to the base of academic knowledge and explores an under-studied topic that is related to women’s health and wellbeing. This study includes some explicit language and graphic line drawing illustrations, which are necessary because the authors introduce new terminology to describe the techniques they are studying, and the illustrations provide further definition to these terms and are essential for understanding the methodology, results, and discussion of the study.”
Funding: This study was funded by For Goodness Sake, LLC (https://www.fgsake.org/). The funders had a role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, and in preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: Dr. Hensel is a consultant with For Goodness Sake, LLC. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.
About this psychology research news
Contact: Angela Giovanello – PLOS
Image: The image is in the public domain
Original Research: Open access.
“Women’s techniques for making vaginal penetration more pleasurable: Results from a nationally representative study of adult women in the United States” by Devon J. Hensel et al. PLOS ONE
Women’s techniques for making vaginal penetration more pleasurable: Results from a nationally representative study of adult women in the United States
The study purpose was to assess, in a U.S. probability sample of women, the specific ways women have discovered to make vaginal penetration more pleasurable.
Through qualitative pilot research with women that informed the development of the survey instrument used in this study, we identified four previously unnamed, but distinct, techniques women use to make vaginal penetration more pleasurable:
Angling, Rocking, Shallowing and Pairing. This study defines each technique and describes its prevalence among U.S. adult women. Weighted frequencies were drawn from the Second OMGYES Pleasure Report—a cross-sectional, online, national probability survey of 3017 American women’s (age 18–93) sexual experiences and discoveries.
Participants were recruited via the Ipsos KnowledgePanel®. Data suggest that 87.5% of women make vaginal penetration more pleasurable using ‘Angling’: rotating, raising, or lowering the pelvis/hips during penetration to adjust where inside the vagina the toy or penis rubs and what it feels like.
Approximately 76% of women make vaginal penetration more pleasurable using ‘Rocking’: the base of a penis or sex toy rubbing against the clitoris constantly during penetration, by staying all the way inside the vagina rather than thrusting in and out. About 84% of women make vaginal penetration more pleasurable using ‘Shallowing’: penetrative touch just inside of the entrance of the vagina—not on the outside, but also not deep inside—with a fingertip, sex toy, penis tip, tongue, or lips.
Finally, 69.7% of women orgasm more often or make vaginal penetration more pleasurable using ‘Pairing’: when a woman herself (Solo Pairing) or her partner (Partner Pairing) reaches down to stimulate her clitoris with a finger or sex toy at the same time as her vagina is being penetrated.
These data provide techniques that are at women’s disposal to make penetration more pleasurable—which can enable women to better identify their own preferences, communicate about them and advocate for their sexual pleasure.