Sex Q&A

Sex Question Friday: Is Deeper Penetration Better?

March 22, 2013 by Justin Lehmiller

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know why some women enjoy deep penetration during vaginal intercourse more than others.

Why is deeper penetration better for a lot of women when the most sensitive parts of the vagina are on the outside and close to the labia and clitoris?

Good question! First, I should clarify that you are correct in stating that most of the nerve endings in the female genital region are on the outside of the body rather than the inside. It is likely for this reason that a majority of women report that a longer penis does not necessarily make it any easier for them to reach orgasm than a shorter penis. In fact, a recent study found that among sexually experienced women, approximately two-thirds reported that a longer penis either made no difference in their likelihood of reaching orgasm or made it less likely that they would climax [1]. Of course, this study also tells us that about one-third of the women indicated that longer penises and, consequently, deeper penetration was better.

Why do some women like deep penetration? We cannot say for sure, but one possibility is that longer penises may provide some degree of cervical stimulation. It turns out that the cervix may be an important and largely unacknowledged pleasure source for some women. As evidence of this, a recent fMRI (i.e., brain-scanning) study revealed that a region of the brain known as the genital sensory cortex “lights up” when a woman’s cervix is stimulated [2]. This same brain region also becomes active when the vagina, clitoris, and nipple are stimulated, which suggests that the cervix may contribute to female sexual pleasure. Consistent with this finding, there are some women who report being able to reach orgasm through cervical stimulation [3].

As you can see, the source of sexual pleasure may differ widely from one woman to the next. Some enjoy clitoral stimulation, others prefer stimulation of the G-spot, some want to have their breasts and nipples touched, and others desire deep penetration that reaches the cervix. For my female readers, the take-home message here is to work together with your partner and experiment with different types of stimulation, communicate about what feels best, and hone in on your orgasmic potential because there is no “correct” way for a woman to climax. The “right” way is the way that works for you.

For past Sex Question Friday posts, see here. Want to learn more about The Psychology of Human Sexuality? Click here for a complete list of articles or like the Facebook page to get articles delivered to your newsfeed.

[1] Costa, R. M., Miller, G. F., & Brody, S. (in press).Women who prefer longer penises are more likely to have vaginal orgasms (but not clitoral orgasms): Implications for an evolutionary theory of vaginal orgasm. Journal of Sexual Medicine.

[2] Komisaruk, B. R., Wise, N., Frangos, E., Liu, W. C., Allen, K., & Brody, S. (2011). Women’s clitoris, vagina, and cervix mapped on the sensory cortex: fMRI evidence. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 2822-2830.

[3] Cutler, W. B., Zacker, M., McCoy, N., Genovese-Stone, E., & Friedman, E. (2000). Sexual response in women. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 95, S19.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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