Given women have made great strides towards equality in so many areas of life, it seems strange that in the bedroom we are still missing out. Picture: Pexels

The night I had sex for the first time I was 20. The man I desired and trusted enough for this nerve-racking rite of passage was kind, sensitive and ten years  older.

I knew that ecstasy wasn’t guaranteed, but thought someone with experience would give me a better chance of having a pleasurable time.

In the event, I preferred the kissing part of the evening to the sex bit, and was left none the wiser about how you achieved an orgasm with another human being. 

He had an orgasm, of course. Men generally do, when they’re under 40 and not immobilised by drink. And this was pretty much the pattern my sex life took for the next two years, although my next few liaisons were with fellow students my own age.

My initiation into the inequalities of physical intimacy is such a common occurrence that I imagine most women reading this article will be nodding in recognition. And it’s not just early sexual experiences that often leave us unsatisfied; even later in life, there is a looming gap between men’s and women’s likelihood of achieving climax in any given encounter.

Indeed, it’s a phenomenon that has been dubbed "the orgasm gap" - and it is rightly receiving renewed attention after recent research published by the Kinsey Institute, which researches sexual behaviour, revealed that only 65 percent of heterosexual women "usually or always" orgasm during sex, compared to 95 percent of men. 

Until recently, this inequality of pleasure was widely regarded as the natural order of things. It was assumed women were less libidinous than men, and if they didn’t climax were either uninterested or (dread word) "frigid".

But given women have made great strides towards equality in so many areas of life, it seems strange that in the bedroom we are still missing out. Lucy Litwack, a force for women’s sexual empowerment since opening up market erotic emporium Coco de Mer in 2001, agrees with Jess Phillips that sex education is "crucial to closing the gap".

"A lack of respect for women’s pleasure leads to a lack of respect in other aspects of life," says Litwack. "We’ve raised a generation of girls to have a voice, take control, and expect equality. Now it’s time to demand the same in the bedroom."

It’s sadly true that women are too often ill-informed about their erogenous zones.

Still, there’s no biological reason women should experience less pleasure - in fact it’s the opposite. The clitoris contains 8 000 nerve endings, twice as many as the head of the penis, so a woman is capable of extraordinary levels of sensation.

The pleasure gap is particularly acute between young men and women. One study in the US found only 39 percent of the women regularly climaxed, compared to 91 percent of the men.

Research from 2012 reported that young men are less likely to spend time and effort trying to gratify their sexual partners when encounters are fleeting, meaning young women may actually be having fewer orgasms as a result of our modern casual sex culture. 

Men and women alike agreed that the main hurdle to be overcome wasn’t a woman’s particular needs or preferences, but her ability to clearly communicate them.

The good news is that it’s never too late to start.

Daily Mail