The study, which is published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy analysed data from 1,055 women between the ages of 18 and 94 who answered an online survey about their sex lives.
The results are pretty insightful. While 18.4 percent of (lucky) women said that penetrative sex alone was enough for them to orgasm, 36.6 percent said they needed clitoral stimulation. Another 36 percent of women said that, while they didn’t necessarily need clitoral stimulation to finish, their orgasms feel better if their clitoris gets a little love during sex.
Researchers also did a deep dive into what kind of genital stimulation women liked, and there was a pretty broad range: touching in a rhythmic motion (81.7 percent of women said they preferred that), a motion that circles the clitoris (78.3 percent), switching between different patterns (76 percent), switching between intense and less intense motions (75.8 percent), and slowing things down to make the pleasure last longer (73.6 percent) were all favorites. Also worth noting: Less than one in five women said longer sex is better.
The majority of women also said that their orgasms are way better when their partner spends time to build their arousal, when their partner knows what they like, when they have emotional intimacy with their partner, and when they have clitoral stimulation during sex.
Basically, the women made it clear that outercourse (or all that fun stuff that happens beyond intercourse) is pretty damn important when it comes to getting them off. Unfortunately, all of those factors are often relegated to foreplay (if they're even included at all) and then forgotten about once things really get moving. Clearly, that’s not doing you—or your sex life—any favors.
With all this new insight in mind, it’s worth pointing out that a massive study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in February found that women who have sex with other women orgasm the most when they have sex. In fact, more than 86 percent of lesbians said they usually or always orgasm during sex, while just 65 percent of straight women said the same thing. Perhaps the difference has something to do with an abundance of better-orgasm outercourse? Just saying.
Botton line: Talk to your partner about what does and doesn’t work for you in bed, and make sure that clitoral play occurs throughout sex—not just in the beginning. If your partner needs a little more direct instruction, cover their hand with yours during sex and guide them through the motions that feel good to you. And, if all else fails, don’t hesitate to take matters into your own hands—literally.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.