I’ve just recently discovered that my girlfriend has been faking orgasms during sex. We’ve been having sex for about 6 months, and I thought it’s been great. What should I do to make sure that the sex is good for both of us?

co-authored by Renee Komel

Thanks for your question. In this response, you will find information on how often pretending to orgasm during sex generally occurs, the reasons why some women do it, and ways to help facilitate conversation between you and your partner. The following answer will focus on penile-vaginal sexual intercourse (PVI), since this is how I am interpreting what you mean by “sex,” which can mean different things. It’s important to remember that other ways of being sexual can be just as, if not more, pleasurable than PVI!

In order to contextualize, let me first clarify the prevalence of women who fake or pretend to orgasm. In one study, researchers found that 25% of men and 50% of women in their sample had pretended to orgasm at some point in their sexual experiences.[1] Of those women who had experience with PVI, 67% had reported pretending to orgasm; that is, almost seven out of ten women who’ve had this type of sex have pretended to orgasm!

Some other studies suggest that the range is closer to 53-58% of women who have faked orgasms during sex.[2] But either way, the data shows that it’s relatively common for women to fake orgasms during sexual intercourse. Now the question remains, why?

There have been many different reasons uncovered in research for why some women pretend to orgasm. One study suggests that women who pretend to orgasm may do so as a way to protect against infidelity.[3] This study revealed that women who saw their partners as likely to be unfaithful were more likely to fake orgasms during sexual intercourse to prove their commitment to the relationship. But don’t jump to conclusions just yet! This is only one of many reasons why some women pretend to orgasm.

Another study asked participants about why they pretended to orgasm in particular situations.[4] Four-fifths of the women pretended to orgasm to avoid the perceived negative consequences of telling their partner that they did not orgasm during intercourse. One participant reported, “My boyfriend would have probably gotten upset that he didn’t satisfy me” and another that she “didn’t want to hurt his feelings or his ego”.[5]

Women reporting that they pretend to orgasm to avoid hurting their partners’ feelings is a common topic in other studies as well. One such focus-group of young, heterosexual women discussed sexuality, orgasm, and communication.[6] A common theme discussed was that the female orgasm is more important for the male than for the female. They suggested that when men seek to sexually satisfy their partners, their goal is to help them orgasm. Therefore, if their partner doesn’t orgasm, they feel inadequate. Despite this, orgasm is not the only way to measure sexual satisfaction. In fact, some of these women “viewed female orgasm as a ‘bonus’ and not the goal.”[7]

Your question suggests that you may think your partner is not satisfied with the sex you are having. It is important to know that just because she has pretended to orgasm, it doesn’t mean that the sex was not satisfying for her. It is also important to think of how your own education or experience has framed what you believe about female orgasms. You may believe the myths or misunderstanding regarding female sexuality without even knowing it. Please take a look at the Sexual Pleasure section for more accurate information on female orgasm, pleasure, sexuality, and more.

The above explanations as to why some women pretend to orgasm may or may not be the reason that your partner has pretended to orgasm in the past. The only way to know for sure is, well, to ask her. Now for some suggestions to help guide you through this.

In all aspects of a relationship clear communication is very important, especially when it comes to intimate and sexual aspects of a relationship. Research has suggested that men and women vary greatly in their perceptions of orgasm and sex. Some researchers have suggested that communication between partners regarding concerns, expectations, and experiences is especially important for “young couples who are concerned about infrequent female orgasm in their sexual interactions.”[8]

It may also be helpful to consider specific behaviors that your partner may want more of. These could include foreplay, oral sex, manual stimulation, toys, etc. Another thing to consider is that because perceptions and experience differ between the sexes, it is helpful to focus on how sex feels rather than on achieving the orgasm.[9] This shift of focus can even help her orgasm by eliminating that pressure and exploring new experiences!

In all, exploring other areas of sex, like oral sex, may help both of you discover what feels best and can help you to better communicate expectations for sex and orgasm.[10]

Why some women pretend to orgasm during sex is a complex question. What is most important for you is that communication is key here. Being on the same page is essential. Remember not to enter the conversation pointing fingers or being accusatory, but understand that it may not have anything to do with bad sex or being unhappy with you. Good luck!


[1] Muehlenhard, C.L., & Shippee, S, K. (2010). Men’s and Women’s Reports of Pretending Orgasm. Journal of Sex Research, 47(6), 552-567.

[2] Darling, C.A., & Davidson, J.K. (1986). Enhancing Relationships: Understanding the Feminine Mystique of Pretending Orgasm. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 12(3), 182-196; Kaighobadi, F., Shackelford, T.K., & Weekes-Shackelford, V.A. (2012). Do Women Pretend Orgasm to Retain a Mate? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41,1121-125; and Wiederman, M.W. (1997). Pretending Orgasm During Sexual Intercourse: Correlates in a Sample of Young Adult Women. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 23(2), 131-139.

[3] Kaighobadi, F., Shackelford, T.K., & Weekes-Shackelford, V.A. (2012). Do Women Pretend Orgasm to Retain a Mate? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41,1121-125.

[4] Muehlenhard, C.L., & Shippee, S, K. (2010). Men’s and Women’s Reports of Pretending Orgasm. Journal of Sex Research, 47(6), 552-567.

[5] Muehlenhard, C.L., & Shippee, S, K. (2010). Men’s and Women’s Reports of Pretending Orgasm. Journal of Sex Research, 47(6), 552-567.

[6] Salisbury, C. M. A., & Fisher, W. A. (2014). “Did You Come?” A Qualitative Exploration of Gender Differences in Beliefs, Experiences, and Concerns Regarding Female Orgasm Occurrences During Heterosexual Sexual Interactions. Journal of Sex Research, 51(6), 616-631.

[7] Salisbury, C. M. A., & Fisher, W. A. (2014). “Did You Come?” A Qualitative Exploration of Gender Differences in Beliefs, Experiences, and Concerns Regarding Female Orgasm Occurrences During Heterosexual Sexual Interactions. Journal of Sex Research, 51(6), 616-631.

[8] Salisbury, C. M. A., & Fisher, W. A. (2014). “Did You Come?” A Qualitative Exploration of Gender Differences in Beliefs, Experiences, and Concerns Regarding Female Orgasm Occurrences During Heterosexual Sexual Interactions. Journal of Sex Research, 51(6), 616-631.

[9] Wiederman, M.W. (1997). Pretending Orgasm During Sexual Intercourse: Correlates in a Sample of Young Adult Women. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 23(2), 131-139.

[10] Darling, C.A., & Davidson, J.K. (1986). Enhancing Relationships: Understanding the Feminine Mystique of Pretending Orgasm. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 12(3), 182-196.