A final orgasmic difficulty we discuss is faking orgasms—pretend­ing to experience orgasm without actually doing so. Some men fake orgasm, and a growing number of young, healthy men whose com­pulsive viewing of pornography make arousal with a partner diffi­cult are faking orgasm (Robinson, 2011; Rothbart, 2011). However, faking orgasm is typically discussed in reference to women. ■ Table 14.3 shows rates of faking orgasm. Women report faking orgasm most often during intercourse, but also during oral sex, manual stimulation, and phone sex (Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010). The most common reasons given by women for pretending orgasm is to avoid disappointing or hurting their partners, a desire to get sex over with (sometimes due to discomfort or pain), or poor commu­nication about or limited knowledge of sexual techniques (Ellison, 2000; Muehlenhard & Shippee, 2010).

Can heterosexual men tell if their women partners experience orgasm? One study found a 20% discrepancy in how many men believed that their partners climaxed compared to the women who said that they did. About 85% of men reported that their partner „ had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event. However, 64% of women said that they experienced an orgasm at their most recent sexual event (Reece et al., 2010).

Men are also more likely than women to believe that men can tell f if a woman is faking orgasm (Knox et al., 2008).

Faking orgasm often leads to a vicious cycle. The person’s partner is likely not to know that his or her partner has pretended to climax. Consequently, the deceived partner continues to do what he or she Is this woman faking it, or not? How could you tell? has been led to believe is effective, and the other partner continues to

fake to prevent discovery of the deception. Once established, a pat­tern of deception can be difficult to break. Although some women and men find faking orgasm to be an acceptable solution in their individual situations, others find that fak­ing itself becomes troublesome. At the least, faking orgasms creates emotional distance at a time of potential closeness and satisfaction (Masters & Johnson, 1976; Sytsma & Critical Thinking Question Taylor, 2°°8).

Do you think it’s okay for a partner to fake

orgasm to spare your feelings? Wfiy or ■ TABLE 14.3 College Students Answer the Question "Have You Ever Faked

why not? an Orgasm?"


Heterosexual (%)

Lesbian or Bisexual Female (%)


Heterosexual (%)

Gay or Bisexual Male (%)











SOURCE: Elliott & Brantley (1997).

chapter 14


The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh). Both men and women can experience pelvic and coital pain, although it is more com­mon for women to have this problem.