Clitorally Stimulated Orgasms Are Associated With Better Control of Sexual Desire, and Not Associated With Depression or Anxiety, Compared With Vaginally Stimulated Orgasms

J Sex Med. 2016 Nov;13(11):1676-1685. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.08.014. Epub 2016 Sep 22.


Introduction: Most women report that clitoral stimulation is an integral aspect of their orgasm experience. Thus, recent claims that vaginal stimulation and vaginally generated orgasms are superior to clitoral stimulation and clitorally generated orgasms pathologize most women and maintain a clitoral vs vaginal dichotomy that might not accurately reflect the complexity of women's sexual experience.

Aim: To have women report on their experienced source of orgasm, including combinations of vaginal and clitoral stimulation, the solo or partnered context of the stimulation, and the intensity of the orgasms from different sources and to predict indicators of mental health and sexual health using the orgasm source.

Methods: Eighty-eight women 18 to 53 years old answered detailed questions about their usual and recent orgasm experiences, sexual history, depression, and anxiety. Then, they viewed a series of neutral and sexual films. They were instructed to increase or decrease their sexual arousal or respond "as usual" to the sexual films. They reported their sexual arousal after each film.

Main outcome measures: Outcomes assessed included mental health (depression and anxiety) and sexual health (orgasm quality, ability to regulate sexual response to sex films). Reported sexual arousal was analyzed for the regulation task.

Results: Most women (64%) reported that clitoral and vaginal stimulation contributed to their usual method of reaching orgasm. Women who reported that clitoral stimulation was primarily responsible for their orgasm reported a higher desire to self-stimulate and demonstrated greater control over their self-reported sexual arousal. The primary stimulation site for orgasm was unrelated to measurements of depression or anxiety despite sufficient statistical power.

Conclusion: Most women reported that clitoral and vaginal stimulation is important in orgasm. Women experience orgasms in many varied patterns, a complexity that is often ignored by current methods of assessing orgasm source. The reported source of orgasm was unrelated to orgasm intensity, overall sex-life satisfaction, sexual distress, depression, or anxiety. Women who reported primarily stimulating their clitoris to reach orgasm reported higher trait sexual drive and higher sexual arousal to visual sexual stimulation and were better able to increase their sexual arousal to visual sexual stimulation when instructed than women who reported orgasms primarily from vaginal sources.

Keywords: Anorgasmia; Anxiety; Clitoris; Depression; Orgasm; Self-Regulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Clitoris / physiology*
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm / physiology*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproductive Health
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Touch / physiology
  • Vagina / physiology*
  • Young Adult