The first time

Sex can be a beautiful and transcendent experience but that is not necessarily the way it happens naturally. In modern society sex and sexuality are laden with a variety of meanings, emotional needs, definitions of self, and even taboos. Given this complex backdrop the act of sex is not always a simple and pleasurable experience. Of course, that is particularly so when it comes to the “first” time and now new research has shown that men and women experience that first sexual encounter quite differently.

To discover this researchers surveyed more than 430 university students about their attitudes and experiences with other people. The study began with subjects aged between seventeen and nineteen and followed them for the four years of their university studies. The researchers gave the surveys to the subjects each year of the four years of the study. The surveys asked about the subject’s perceptions of their own appearance and also asked whether they had engaged in penetrative sex.

During the course of the research almost 25 per cent of the subjects had their first sexual experience.

The results showed that over the four years of the study the women became gradually happier with their appearance while men became less happy with their physical appearance over that four years. When it came to sex however, the roles were reversed.

After their first sexual encounter women became less satisfied with their appearance while men had a boost in their self assessed appearance.

Previous research has shown that women who have sex early are more likely to experience depression but this study was not dealing with “underage” females. It was a study looking at young adults and the negative feelings still seem to persist. If on average women are feeling less good about their appearance and have a more negative body image after first sexual intercourse then socially and culturally we have an obligation to address the underlying causes of this association. In the long run the objective has to be to help women, and men, make decisions about sexuality that yield healthy emotional outcomes.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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