When counseling married couples, health care professionals should consider the wives’ orgasm experiences, according to the authors of a recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study.
Doing so could help the sexual satisfaction of both members of the couple, they said.
Past studies of orgasm experiences have “rarely included dyadic data,” nor have they adequately considered confounding variables like sexual communication, they reported.
The current study used data from 1,683 heterosexual newlywed couples and focused on ways orgasm experiences were linked to both sexual and relationship satisfaction. The mean ages of the husbands and wives were 30 and 28, respectively.
The couples were asked to complete assessments on their frequency of orgasm and their perceived frequency of their partner’s orgasm. Based on these answers, the researchers determined the degree of misperception (the difference between a person’s orgasm frequency and the partner’s perception of that frequency).
The couples also answered questions about their sexual communication, relationship satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction.
The researchers controlled for age, race, sexual timing in the relationship, education, and religiosity.
Eighty-seven percent of the husbands and 49% of the wives reported consistent orgasms. However, 43% of the husbands misperceived their wife’s orgasm frequency. (In other words, they thought their wives reached orgasm more or less often than their wives actually reported.)
The authors found that self-reported orgasm and the perception of a partner’s orgasm were positively associated with sexual and relationship satisfaction. In contrast, misperception was negatively associated with both areas.
When the researchers left sexual communication out of their analyses, they found a positive association between women’s orgasms and their sexual and relationship satisfaction. But when sexual communication was included, only sexual satisfaction was associated, and the association was smaller.
“This could possibly be due to sexual communication facilitating a higher likelihood of orgasm, which in turn improves sexual satisfaction,” the authors explained.
No association was found between the husbands’ self-reported orgasm frequency and sexual or relationship satisfaction. “This was a mild surprise,” the authors noted, “considering how highly men value their own orgasm during the sexual experience.”
Wives’ perceptions of their husband’s orgasm were negatively associated with their husband’s sexual satisfaction, but husbands’ perceptions of their wife’s orgasm had a positive association, perhaps because men consider their partner’s pleasure important and may feel more masculine if their partner climaxes.
“This study is not suggesting that husbands’ orgasms are not important, rather they are ubiquitous,” wrote the authors. They suggested that greater attention to wives’ orgasms might raise sexual satisfaction in both husbands and wives.
Because of the cross-sectional study design, it was unclear whether good sexual communication led to more frequent orgasms or whether good sexual relationships led to better communication. The authors also cautioned that the results pertained to newlyweds and might not apply to couples who have been married for a long time.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Nathan D. Leonhardt, BS, et al.
“The Significance of the Female Orgasm: A Nationally Representative, Dyadic Study of Newlyweds' Orgasm Experience”
(Full-text. Published online: June 27, 2018)