Virginity Loss: Physiological And Psychological Satisfaction

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A new study examined the satisfaction of young people's virginity loss experience.

Cherries

Photo: KathyLumsden on Flikr

The cherries of virginity loss

A study published in The Journal of Sex Research‘s latest issue aimed to understand the extent to which young heterosexual folks are satisfied by their first intercourse. The data was collected from four university campuses and included 1,986 participants who were between the ages of 18 and 25.

Defining virginity

First of all, virginity: definition? That’s a long disputed issue and could be another blog post in itself. To give you the short of it, traditionally it has been defined as first act of penile-vaginal penetration (which is obviously incredibly limiting). Recently though, other sexual behaviors have become accepted forms of losing virginity, particularly among same-sex relationships. Despite that, this article considered virginity loss to mean first vaginal penetration.

Findings

Higgins and colleagues from Columbia University asked participants to rate how physiologically and psychologically satisfying their first experience of vaginal intercourse was.

The primary findings had to do with gender differences. They found that women were significantly less likely than men to experience “considerable” or “extreme” satisfaction during virginity loss (particularly physiological). Only 25% of the women in the study reported physiological sexual satisfaction at first intercourse (compared to 65% of men).

Psychological satisfaction was higher among those who lost their virginity in the context of a committed relationship, particularly among women. Also, this was a retrospective look at virginity loss, and women who reported having felt less guilt (20% of the sample felt guilt) at first intercourse were more psychologically satisfied.

Something to think about

I think it’s important to note that one of the universities that the researchers recruited from was a religiously affiliated one, which may impact the generalizability of the results.

Overall, the researchers concluded that women who are in more loving relationships and experience little or no guilt experienced greater physiological and psychological satisfaction. Also, there were large gender differences in terms of satisfaction levels at first intercourse. They concluded that first vaginal intercourse is more likely to be psychologically satisfying than physiologically satisfying.

Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH

completed her PhD in Health Behavior and her MPH in Biostatistics, both at Indiana University. Kristen is an Assistant Professor in Health Promotion at University of Kentucky. Kristen's research focuses on sexual pleasure, sexuality in long term relationships, sexual function, and women's sexuality.
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