Many women feign sexual pleasure in order to end “bad” or unwanted sex sooner, a study has found.

Although the study had recruited women to speak about consensual sex, all of them explicitly spoke about problematic sexual experiences when asked about faking orgasms.

Researchers said they were “struck”  by the number of women who reported faking orgasms due during unwanted sex.

“While some women spoke about faking orgasm in positive ways, for instance, as a pleasurable experience that heightened their own arousal, many talked about feigning pleasure in the context of unwanted and unpleasurable sexual experiences,” psychologist Emily Thomas said.

“Within these accounts, we were struck by the degree to which women were connecting the practice of faking orgasm to accounts of unwanted sex.”

Analysis showed women did not use words such as “rape” or “coercion” when speaking about their experiences, though their descriptions of the events could be categorised as such.

Instead, the women were said to have described their sexual experiences as unwanted in more “indirect” ways, such as using the term “bad” to describe sexual encounters which were both unwanted and unpleasurable.

Though faking orgasms is often seen as a joke, the study shows it is a complex phenomenon. Though it can be used as a useful coping strategy for women in unwanted sexual situations, the practice highlights the silencing of women who may want to reject sexual advances, but feel they can’t.

It suggests these women exist within a culture that discourages speaking up against unwanted sexual encounters, and where itmay even be dangerous to do so.

“It appears that faking orgasm is both problematic and helpful at the same time,” says Ms Thomas.

“On the one level faking an orgasm may be a useful strategy as it affords some control over ending a sexual encounter. We are not criticising faking practice on an individual level.

“We want to focus on the problems with our current lack of available language to describe women’s experiences that acknowledges names and confronts the issues women spoke of in our interviews.”