The study, performed by researchers from Indiana University, Emory University, and Rutgers University, was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The investigators surveyed 2,850 singles who'd had sex within the past 12 months. This included 1,353 people who identified as female and 1,497 people who identified as male. In addition to questions about sexual orientation, participants were asked what percentage of the time they achieved orgasm with a recurring partner.
Overall, men reported a higher rate of orgasm than women did (85% of the time vs. 63%) — are we surprised? And, sexual orientation wasn't a significant factor in men's orgasm frequency. Interestingly, though, lesbian women reported experiencing significantly more orgasms than both heterosexual and bisexual women. In fact, lesbians participants had orgasms 75% of the time, compared to 61% for the heterosexual women and 58% for the bisexual women.
It's worth noting that this study only included experiences with partners considered to be "familiar," meaning these weren't one-night stands. But, it would be interesting to examine orgasm frequency in less-familiar hookups, because previous research has shown that the context and duration of a relationship can influence the likelihood of each partner achieving orgasm.
And, participants who identified as neither male nor female were not included in the study; nor were many sexual orientations (e.g., queer). And, while lesbian and bisexual women were represented, the vast majority of female participants (85%) identified as heterosexual. Still, as the authors point out, this is some of the first detailed empirical evidence that suggests sexual satisfaction can vary depending on orientation. Hopefully, more will follow — we'll be staying tuned in hopes of better, sexier times for all.