For many, the grind of daily life sets in once the flutters of a new relationship are over. Yet how are you keeping the flame alive?
In most romantic relationships, sex is a central factor. In reality, earlier this year, Nccmed reported that a greater marital satisfaction is correlated with the “afterglow” that newlywed couples experience for up to 2 days after having sex.
But a new study last week found that 34 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men who had been living with their partner for at least 1 year lost interest in sex.
Sexual appetite can be influenced by several factors. Figure out how much sex impacts pleasure most, why certain people lose interest and what factors lead to long-term sexual satisfaction.
How much sex is enough?
In a 2016 article, Amy Muise, Ph.D. – a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Mississauga University of Toronto in Canada – states that there is plenty of evidence that “[…] the more sex people registered, the happier they feel.” Furthermore, Dr. Muise also questions if trying to have sex as “frequently as possible” would really have the desired impact, particularly in the case of women.
Is the desire to constantly have sex getting in the way of happiness?
Dr Muise notes a strong relationship between sex and happiness level. What she noticed was that those who had sex once a week or more were significantly happier than those who had sex less often.
Yet participants in the study who had sex on multiple days a week were no happier than those who had sex once a week.
The findings were valid for individuals who were in a romantic relationship, including women, older participants, and those who appeared to have less sex in long-term relationships.
Interestingly, having sex had a greater effect on the satisfaction of the participants than on income. And why do so many people lose interest when sex makes us happy?
Who loses interest in sex?
There’s plenty of evidence that becoming a woman in a long-term relationship and growing age are correlated with a decrease in sexual frequency.
However, the capacity of the participants to achieve orgasm improved over the seven-year study period – particularly in those who have been in the same relationship all of the time.
Therefore, according to the study, remaining with a partner means stronger orgasms but less interest in sex for women.
We commented on a new study published in BMJ Open last week that adds data to the body showing women’s interest in sex decreases in relationships.
Prof. Cynthia Graham of the Center for Sexual Health Research at Southampton University in the United Kingdom found that more than 34% of women who had lived with their partner for at least 1 year lost interest in sex, while only 15% of men did.
The biggest turn-offs
Prof. Graham identified a variety of factors that were related to her study’s decrease in sexual desire.
For women, they had small children, had been pregnant in the past year, lived with their husband, had a longer relationship, didn’t share the same degree of sexual desire and didn’t share the same sexual preferences.
Medical problems (including depression) for both genders, not feeling close to their partner during sex, being less satisfied with their relationship and having sex less often than they were interested in all led to a decline in sexual desire.
Age had been another factor. Men reported the lowest rates of sex attraction between the ages of 35 and 44, while this was between 55 and 64 for women.
Julia Velten, Ph.D. – a postdoctoral fellow at the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany – indicated that it had a detrimental effect on their sexual satisfaction when people felt that their partner was still expecting them to initiate sex.
Discrepancy in sexual desire, which is the discrepancy between the real and desired level in sex, was a negative factor for men and women alike.
Sexual activity was also a part of Dr. Velten’s research for the couples. Men have been affected by the lack of sexual function of their partner, such as lack of enthusiasm, while women have been more affected by the discomfort of the partner over their own sexual problem, such as erectile dysfunctions.
How does masturbation fit into the picture?
Research results on this subject don’t agree. Kateřina Klapilová, Ph.D. – from the Department of General Anthropology at Charles University in Prague – found in a study involving couples living in Prague that masturbation has adversely affected their sexual pleasure for women.
Yet in these couples masturbation had no effect on the guys.
Moreover, Prof. Graham found that men who had recently masturbated were less interested in sex, while masturbation was not associated with a shift in the sex drive for women.
Prof. Graham told Nccmed that, in her previous study, she had “finded surprising gender disparities in factors correlated with masturbation frequency in men and women.”
She added that “when men had less partner sex, they appeared to masturbate more often, while the opposite was true for women.”
With 51.7 percent of males and 17.8 percent of female participants reporting masturbation in the 7 days leading up to study interviews, this is obviously an important factor in many ties.
Yet it remains to be seen exactly how masturbation affects or distracts from the long-term sexual pleasure.
Is there a way to keeping the fire alive, with substantial rates of both men and women recording a decrease in sexual desire and satisfaction?
The secret to sexual satisfaction
Dr. Klapilová’s study showed that sexual pleasure was correlated with penile-vaginal intercourse for both men and women, and the frequency of being able to achieve vaginal orgasm.
She points out the “unique function that vaginal orgasm (as distinct from other causes of orgasm) has played in sustaining interpersonal relationships of higher quality.” Anik Debrot, Ph.D. – along with Dr. Muise and other colleagues at the University of Toronto Mississauga – recently examined the connection between intimacy and sexual activity.
In her research article, published this year in the newspaper Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, she states that “when engaging in sex, people not only pursue intimate relationships, but also feel more intimacy, both when having sex and in the next few hours.”
“Thus, sex in romantic relationships offers a significant way for people to feel a deep bond,” she adds.
To her, this suggests that sex is important because of the emotional benefits we experience in romantic relationships. Dr. Debrot says, “[When sex may be impaired], affection may help to maintain well-being given the reduced frequency of sex.”
The effect of time
A research by Prof. Julia Heiman, Psychological & Brain Science Department at Indiana University in Bloomington, examined 1,000 couples in five countries (Brazil, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United States).
While the length of relationships between the partners ranged from 1 to 51 years, half had been together for a minimum of 25 years.
Prof. Heiman found that “[women]reported substantially more sexual pleasure than men and men than pleasure with relationships.” In particular, “Men who enjoyed the orgasm of their partner were more likely to report happiness in relation.”
Women’s sexual satisfaction rose from 40 percent at the beginning of the relationship to 86 percent while they were 40 years with their partner.
Penile-vaginal sex, intimacy, and the time spent in the relationship are main components of a healthy sex life from these studies. Yet one additional element may be key: open communication.
Talking about sex
Open contact regarding sexual preferences and rhythms has had a positive impact on the quality of sex identified by the participants in Dr. Velten’s research.
Equally, participants in the study by Prof. Graham who found it easy to speak to their partner about sex were more interested in sex.
She told NCCMED that “[their] results underline that open contact with a sex partner is one of the most important things you can do to try and preserve a relationship’s sexual interest.”
Sexual desires and interests are intrinsically human and personal by nature. Studies in this area is complex and while studies can show similarities and patterns, the explanations for an individual’s sexual fulfillment won’t be able to tease apart.
“I don’t think that there is any ‘secret’ to long-term sexual satisfaction! Human sexuality is too diverse and ‘fluid’ for this to be the case – but […] open communication about sex with a partner should go some way to preventing sexual problems from developing.”
Prof. Cynthia Graham
Sex talk can be a good starting point. It can be difficult to find a way to incorporate sex into the pressures of everyday life, but love and time together can well help.Talking about sex may be a good starting point. Finding a way to fit sex into the pressures of daily life may be challenging, but affection and time together might well help.