Mindfulness during sex linked to improved sexual well-being and orgasm consistency in married couples, study finds

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Nov 30, 2021, 3:41:45 AM11/30/21
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Mindfulness during sex linked to improved sexual well-being and orgasm consistency in married couples, study finds

According to a recent study, maintaining awareness and non-judgment during sexual activity is associated with better sexual well-being among married couples. The findings, published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, also revealed partner effects — for example, husbands’ awareness during sexual activity was associated with improved orgasm consistency among wives.

Mindfulness involves a non-judgmental awareness of the present and heightened intentionality. More recently, scholars have applied this concept to sexual behavior, using the term sexual mindfulness. Early evidence suggests men have higher sexual mindfulness than women, leading study authors Chelom E. Leavitt and her team to wonder whether women’s lower sexual mindfulness might explain why women tend to orgasm less consistently.

Leavitt and her colleagues were particularly interested in how one partner’s mindfulness during sex might influence their partner’s outcomes. The researchers conducted a study using data from a nationally representative sample of newlywed couples in the U.S. In total, there were 1,473 mixed-sex couples in the analysis. Wives were an average age of 29 and husbands were an average age of 31.

Both partners completed a measure of sexual mindfulness to assess awareness during sexual experiences (e.g., “I pay attention to my emotions during sex”) and non-judgment during sexual experiences (e.g., “During sex, I sometimes get distracted by evaluating myself or my partner”). They also completed measures of relationship flourishing to assess meaning, personal growth, and goal sharing within the relationship, and sexual harmony to assess the extent that their sexuality is integrated into their life in a balanced way. Finally, both partners indicated how often they experience orgasm during sexual experiences with their partner.

When the researchers analyzed the results, they found convincing evidence that mindfulness was related to improvements in sexual well-being. Among both wives and husbands, greater awareness and non-judgment during sexual activity was associated with greater relationship flourishing, sexual harmony, and orgasm consistency.

The authors theorize that mindfulness supports relationship flourishing since the mindset encourages a more regulated response to events that may happen during sex compared to a reactive one. Increased awareness and open discussions about sex can promote meaning and connection within a relationship. Similarly, mindfulness promotes greater sexual harmony by encouraging people away from “goal-driven sex” toward sex that is intentional and in the moment, paving the way for a more meaningful sexual experience that is integrated with other aspects of life.

Notably, there were also partner effects, suggesting that one member of the couple’s sexual mindfulness led to positive outcomes in their partner. Both husbands and wives with greater awareness and non-judgment had partners who reported better relationship flourishing and sexual harmony. Further, both husbands and wives who had greater sexual awareness had partners with a more consistent orgasm experience.

The authors say that these findings suggest a way to address the orgasm gap between men and women. People who were more aware during sex experienced more consistent orgasms, and so did their partners. Encouraging couples to slow down and let go of judgment may help women (who are less likely to orgasm during sex than men) feel greater autonomy and competence. Taking things slowly might also give women the time they need to achieve sufficient arousal and orgasm.

“Sexual mindfulness may provide a valuable resource for couples who are working to improve their connection and meaning in their romantic and sexual relationships,” Leavitt and team write. “Additionally, this study provides initial evidence that not only is a woman’s sexual mindfulness linked to her own orgasm consistency, but her husband’s sexual mindfulness is linked to her orgasm consistency.”

The authors note that their sample consisted only of mixed-sex, younger couples. They say that future studies will be needed to explore a wider demographic and to examine how sexual mindfulness relates to relationship length, relationship timing, and same-sex relationships.

The study, “Linking Sexual Mindfulness to Mixed‑Sex Couples’ Relational Flourishing, Sexual Harmony, and Orgasm”, was authored by Chelom E. Leavitt, Tawniele F. Maurer, Tiffany L. Clyde, Rebecca W. Clarke, Dean M. Busby, Jeremy B. Yorgason, Erin K. Holmes, and Spencer James.

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