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27th Apr 2021

Sexual Experience Survey results: Over half of Irish women believe orgasmic sex is one of the top three greatest pleasures in life

Brought to you by ellaOne

The results are in!

You might remember that last year in a pre-Covid world, we ran our hugely popular ‘Fact Not Fiction’ series with morning after pill brand ellaOne. You know that we’re all about encouraging positive conversations about pleasure and sexual health.

We want to encourage women to see that pleasure is simply that – there’s no need for any guilt. Let’s lose the phrase ‘Guilty Pleasure’ and learn to enjoy pleasure for what it is!

Keeping with the pleasure theme, we asked you to take our ‘What’s your pleasure? Her Sexual Experience Survey’. Almost 2000 women in Ireland took part and shared their thoughts about pleasure and sexual well-being. Now, we’re going to share these insights with you.

All about pleasure…

Even amidst a global pandemic, sexual pleasure is still pretty high up in our priorities.

According to this new research, over half (54%) of women aged 18-34 revealed that they believe having orgasmic sex is one of the top three greatest pleasures in life, with 15% of women surveyed saying it was their number one greatest pleasure. Travelling and discovering new places and spending time with family came in second and third place.

Commenting on the results, Sex & Relationship Expert Dr Caroline West said that it’s good to see that orgasmic sex is important to Irish women.

“It’s a pleasant surprise to see that orgasms are a frequent feature in women’s lives in this survey, as some international research suggests that orgasms for women in heterosexual relationships are rarer than for women in queer relationships. It is good to see Ireland doing its part to close the orgasm gap for women.”

Despite these lovely findings, our survey showed 72% of women in the same age group have previously faked an orgasm or have told their partner they had orgasmed when they hadn’t, and what’s even more surprising is that 14% said that they have done this regularly.

And when it comes to self-pleasure, just over half (55%) of females in this age group said that they masturbate once a week or more often, with 67% saying they reach orgasm every time while doing so.

Sex during the pandemic

We’re all well aware that the pandemic has turned our lives upside down – including our sex lives!

Just over half (52%) of you aged 18-34 revealed that you’re having less sex during the pandemic than in previous years, with only 1 in 5 women stating that they’re having more sex than in previous years.

Dr West says the fact that women are having less sex during the pandemic is to be expected.

“From the research we can see that a lot of women aren’t having sex very often at the moment, which is not surprising given the pandemic.

“For those in relationships, the anxiety from the pandemic, job stress, and being cooped up can all impact our libidos and interest in sex. For those who are single, the possibility of meeting new partners is minimised.”

But it looks like how we have sex has changed as well! Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) women aged 18-24 say they’re using dating apps more, and 20% of the same age group said they have engaged in more virtual sex during the pandemic as well.

Fact not fiction

Our survey shows that there is still some misunderstanding about how the morning after pill works. Over half of women surveyed aged 18-34 believe it prevents implantation of a fertilised egg while 5% think it kills sperm and 2% think it has an abortive effect.

However, 28% of those 18-34 year old women surveyed understand correctly that the morning after pill works by delaying ovulation (so there is no egg present for sperm to fertilise). This understanding was higher among 18-24 year olds (33%) than 25-34 year olds (25%).

Very encouragingly, 91% of those surveyed understand that you do not need a prescription for the morning after pill and 64% are aware that it is available free of charge for women who hold a medical card.

Speaking about the increased awareness of the facts around the morning after pill, Dr. West said, “It’s encouraging to see women armed with better knowledge around the morning after pill, its accessibility and how it works. It’s important young women are aware of the facts for themselves and don’t rely on myth and fiction for information. It’s great to keep this conversation going and empower women to look after their sexual health by ensuring they have factually correct information easily available to them.”

As always, you can continue to #SharetheFacts on emergency contraception by visiting for more information.

ellaOne is an emergency contraceptive pill that is available from pharmacies, and online through pharmacy Click & Collect services, without a prescription. No other morning after pill is more effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.

ellaOne consists of one film-coated tablet which should be taken as soon as possible, but no later than 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Each film-coated tablet of ellaOne contains 30 mg ulipristal acetate. Always read the label.

This research among 1,940 women in Ireland was conducted by Empathy Research on behalf of morning after pill brand, ellaOne in March 2021.

Brought to you by ellaOne