Enjoying sex so often comes down to good communication, and new research provides specific names — and descriptions — for four techniques women use most often to boost their pleasure during vaginal penetration.
The findings, which were drawn from the second “pleasure report” by the instructional website OMGYES, and published in the journal PLOS ONE, come from a survey of more than 3,000 women, ages 18 to 93, from across the United States. Women were asked how they tend to increase their own pleasure during sex. (This particular study focused specifically on vaginal penetration, and the majority of the respondents identified as heterosexual.)
When the researchers analyzed the women’s answers, four techniques emerged:
Nearly 90% of the respondents said they use “angling,” which involves rotating, raising or lowering their pelvis and hips during vaginal penetration in order to adjust where a sex toy or penis rubs in the vagina.
Roughly 84% of women said they make vaginal penetration more pleasurable by using “shallowing,” or some kind of penetrative touch just inside of the entrance of the vagina.
About 76% of survey respondents said they increase their own pleasure during vaginal penetration through “rocking,” where the base of a penis, or a sex toy, rubs against the clitoris during penetration by staying completely inside the vagina, rather than thrusting in and out.
Lastly, roughly 70% said they use “pairing,” which refers to when a woman or her partner reaches down to stimulate the clitoris (with a finger or sex toy) during penetration.
While the findings do not necessarily present new or groundbreaking information, the study researchers said they hope that simply giving women clearer language around specific techniques will make it easier for them to recognize and communicate what they want, and empower more women to advocate for their own sexual pleasure.
“Holistic approaches to sexual health increasingly emphasize the positive contributions that sexual pleasure — particularly for women — provides to physical, social and emotional well-being across the lifespan,” the study’s authors write. “For example, research has shown that sexual pleasure contributes to women’s reports of greater happiness, and lower levels of depression, stress and anxiety.”
In a press release, Julia Robinson, a senior editor with the journal PLOS ONE, also argued that it is critical for scientific journals to publish this kind of research. “It contributes to the base of academic knowledge and explores an under-studied topic that is related to women’s health and well-being,” she said.
Outside experts agree, and hope that women find information in the study that will be helpful to them.
“What’s so interesting about this study — and so needed — is the ability of women to read this and feel legitimized in their ability to govern pleasure, and have language for it,” Kate Balestrieri, a psychologist and certified sex therapist, told HuffPost. (She did not work on the study.)
“Women are often taught to be receptacles of sex ... when we talk about changing the language about how to tilt hips or move your own body, it’s a gift to ourselves. We are now in control of our own bodies. It’s not a passive experience,” Balestrieri added. “There’s nothing wrong with having a passive experience if that is your ‘jam.’ But for many women, they really would like to take more ownership about what’s happening.”