219424 Virginity lost, satisfaction gained? Physiological and psychological sexual satisfaction at heterosexual debut: Implications for sexual health

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 12:50 PM - 1:10 PM

Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH , Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
James Trussell, PhD , Office of Population Research, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Nelwyn B. Moore, PhD , Texas State University -- San Marcos, San Marcos, TX
J. Kenneth Davidson, PhD , University of Wisconsin -- Eau Claire, Round Rock, TX
Context & Background: Despite the literature's focus on (hetero)sexual initiation, and despite the field's new focus on "positive sexual health," we know little about the degree to which young people are satisfied by their first vaginal intercourse experience, let alone the factors that predict satisfaction (including contraceptive use).

Methods: We analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey of 1986 non-Hispanic White and Black 18-25 year old respondents from four university campuses. Respondents were asked to rate the degree to which their first vaginal intercourse was physiologically and psychologically satisfying.

Results: Both Black and White women were significantly less likely than Black and White men to experience considerable or extreme satisfaction at first vaginal intercourse, particularly physiological satisfaction. Among all four gender-race groups, being in a committed relationship with one's sexual partner greatly increased psychological satisfaction, particularly among women. Experiencing less guilt at first sexual intercourse was also strongly associated with psychological satisfaction for women. Counter to expectations, contraceptive use was not significantly associated with either type of satisfaction among all four groups.

Conclusions: Developing sexual relationships with partners they care for and trust may greatly foster satisfaction among young people at first vaginal intercourse. Results also indicate that young women in particular strongly internalize the cultural stigma on their sexual behavior, which can seriously undermine their ability to achieve sexual satisfaction. Public health practitioners should continue efforts to diminish sexual guilt among young people, especially young women.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this session, participates will be able to: 1) Understand the public health benefits of exploring the satisfaction of virginity loss experiences, and not merely the timing (age) or contraceptive use associated with first intercourse; 2) Articulate the difference between physiological and psychological satisfaction which, though closely related, are separate important domains of the positive sexual experience; 3) Identity those factors that significantly predict both types of satisfaction, especially being in closer, more loving relationships and experiencing little or no sexual guilt; 4) Recognize the importance of a) trusting and loving relationships and b) overcoming sexual guilt in facilitating satisfaction at first intercourse.

Keywords: Sexuality, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I conduct research in sexuality sexual health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.