“Big O” Or Big Act?

Taboo in many circles and seldom talked about in public – JCNN’s Megan Stafford investigates ‘The Big O’.

PHOTO: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Megan Stafford

Click here to listen to students discuss the orgasm survey results

An age-old stereotype may have been broken after JCNN’s survey on ‘The Big O’ confirmed reports that fake orgasms are no longer gender-specific.

Two-thirds of men and almost three-quarters of women said they had faked an orgasm, according to JCNN’s survey on the topic.

A total of 99 people responded to the survey – a breakdown of 75 women and 24 men.

Sixteen of the men, predominantly aged 18 to 20 years, said they had faked an orgasm.

REVEALING: A student completing the Big O survey

The expert opinion

James Cook University sexologist and health psychology associate professor Dr Frances Quirk said there were a number of reasons why men might fake an orgasm, including delayed ejaculation, alcohol use, prescribed medication and over-arousal.

Dr Quirk said men might “opt to stop” due to over-arousal, where their brain’s enthusiasm associated with physical arousal reaches a point where it becomes physiologically impossible to achieve an orgasm.

“(They are) so completely excited and aroused and they’ll just keep literally going until they are exhausted,” she said.

Dr Quirk said it may be the case that men feel a responsibility to draw the line as “most sexual interactions conclude when a male has ejaculated”.

“Certainly the psychological reasons for faking an orgasm is as a sort of opt out, where you know from your own body’s responses that you aren’t going to achieve an orgasm and ejaculate,” she said.

As well as prescribed medication, Dr Quirk said non-prescription products available for men to counteract premature ejaculation may affect their ability to orgasm, as they act to desensitise the penis.


READING UP: Dr Frances Quirk researching the issue.

An issue for all ages

JCNN’s orgasm survey also found 53 women said they had faked an orgasm, with the majority of participants under the age of 30.

Dr Quirk said there was an age correlation to the ease of ejaculation and orgasm in both men and women.

“At the beginning of a relationship and the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve orgasm,” she said.

One of the reasons Dr Quirk gave for the success of achieving orgasm at a younger age was the prevalence of education.

“(Young men are) a bit more cluey about what’s likely to facilitate an orgasm for a woman these days than they used to be,” she said.

“There would be a significant proportion of men in their fifties who would never have performed oral sex on a woman, for instance.”

While it may be easier to orgasm at a young age, Dr Quirk said insufficient arousal due to inexperience may make it more difficult for a younger person to achieve orgasm.

“It is the case that for most women, young as well as older, just engaging in vaginal intercourse is not going to result in an orgasm for the majority of women – something else needs to happen,” she said.

“And, if you are both relatively inexperienced, some of those other things that might need to happen may not be happening.”

Worrying times

Dr Quirk said insufficient arousal may also occur due to anxiety, whether it is anxiousness about something specific to do with the sexual encounter, the risk of pregnancy or a STI, or generalised anxiety relating to university study.

“If you’re not sufficiently aroused because you’re anxious, then orgasm is almost impossible to achieve,” she said.

Survey results strengthened Dr Quirk’s “opt out” argument, with the most popular response for why someone would fake an orgasm: “you realised you weren’t going to and wanted to avoid an awkward situation.”

Concern for the other person’s feelings was the second highest recorded reason, followed by general tiredness, too much pressure placed on a person to climax and alcohol use.

One male respondent said he faked orgasms because he found faking it “more fun than actually doing it”.

Dr Quirk postulated that faking an orgasm for this reason may revolve around control and the ability “to tune in more to the other person, which may make it more satisfying”.

Dr Quirk said undergraduate students were likely to experience “physiological fatigue” due to their university workload, jobs and finances.

“Engaging in sexual activity is actually activity and if it’s at the end of the day and you are already slowing down, then it’s like ‘okay enough is enough, it’s all over, let’s go to sleep’.”