Sex Ed

7 Things That Predict Higher (Or Lower) Sexual Satisfaction

June 29, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller

Sex scientists have found that people’s sexual satisfaction seems to depend on a wide range of factors, from how often they’re having sex to the types of sexual activities they’re practicing. Here’s a brief review of some of the key factors that are linked to higher versus lower levels of sexual satisfaction.

1.) Novelty and variety. Research has consistently found that people who incorporate the most novel and varied acts into their sex lives tend to be the most satisfied, such as trying new positions or using sex toys. Check out this article for a look at 17 acts of variety that the most sexually satisfied couples are doing.

2.) Pornography use. Several studies have found a link between higher levels of porn use and lower levels of sexual satisfaction. Many have therefore concluded that using porn is bad for our sex lives. However, the story isn’t quite so simple. Recent research has found that the link between porn and lower sexual satisfaction only exists for men—and, further, only men who are very religious. In other words, porn is only linked to lower sexual satisfaction when the people using it feel morally conflicted about it.

3.) Relationship length. Research finds that sexual satisfaction tends to increase throughout the first year of a relationship, but typically starts to decline after that. Scientists think this pattern can be explained as follows: during the first year, sexual satisfaction rises as we learn more about our partner’s likes and dislikes and how to please one another. After the first year, however, sexual frequency starts to decline and satisfaction tends to drop with it.

4.) Age. Sexual satisfaction tends to decline as we get older. However, what makes sex satisfying also changes as we age. Specifically, quality of sex becomes more important than quantity. It’s also important to note that even though sexual satisfaction declines with age, most older adults are still satisfied with their sex lives.

5.) Spooning and cuddling after sex. What people do after sex seems to impact their sexual satisfaction. Specifically, research finds that couples who engage in more post-sex affection (think acts like spooning and cuddling) tend to be happier with their sex lives—and that’s true for both men and women.

6.) Moaning and groaning during sex. Research finds that people (men and women alike) who make more noise during sex tend to be more sexually satisfied. This is likely because sexual noises are a form of communication that help your partner better understand what you do (and don’t) like.

7.) Parenthood. When people (including both same-sex and different-sex couples) have children, the frequency with which they have sex tends to drop. Perhaps not surprisingly, sexual satisfaction tends to decline as well.

On a side note, one factor that is not linked to higher or lower sexual satisfaction is sexual orientation. Research has found no differences in sexual satisfaction when comparing male and female same-sex couples to mixed-sex couples. Female same-sex couples report having sex less often than other types of couples; however, they spend more time on sex when they do it, and that seems to be balancing things out in terms of satisfaction.

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Image Source: 123RF/Katarzyna Białasiewicz

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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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