By
updated 11/7/2010 4:18:17 PM ET 2010-11-07T21:18:17

Sexual satisfaction is usually thought of in terms of number of orgasms and time spent between the sheets. But a new study finds that a person's reasons for doing the deed can influence how satisfied they are afterward.

The research, reported online Oct. 22 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, finds that both men and women are more satisfied when having sex out of love and commitment, while mercenary types don't have much fun in bed — having sex to get material goods or to get ahead was associated with a less satisfying experience.

Why have sex?
Most research on sexual function and satisfaction focuses on arousal and orgasm, said study researcher Kyle Stephenson, a Ph.D candidate in the laboratory of University of Texas at Austin psychologist Cindy Meston. But people have sex for diverse reasons, not just for physical pleasure,  Stephenson said. "What we wanted to do was just really to cast a wide net and see which [reasons] were associated with people being satisfied with their sex lives," Stephenson told LiveScience.

    1. Snow-vember Surprise: Why Deep South Is Seeing Frosty Weather
    2. Creative Thinkers More Likely to Cheat
    3. How Morning Snacking Could Damage Your Diet
    4. 'UFOs' Disrupting Search for 'God Particle'
    5. 'Perfect' Celebrity Photos to Get Reality Check

The researchers asked 544 college-aged men and women, most of them heterosexual, to take surveys on their sexual motivations and satisfaction.

Men who had sex to raise their self-esteem were less satisfied, as were men who had sex to get goods, favors or other resources.

Women had a broader range of associations, the researchers found. The connection between love/commitment and satisfaction was less strong for women than for men, though it was still present. Women who had sex to express something to their partner, like gratitude or apology, were also more satisfied.

Like men, women who had sex to acquire a self-esteem or resource boost were less satisfied. Having sex to have a new and exciting experience was also associated with less satisfaction.

Sex in context
The researchers aren't sure why more factors influenced women's satisfaction than men's. It may be that women play the sexual gatekeeper in many relationships, Stephenson said, so their motivations for sex are more likely to result in actual sex.

  1. Most popular
    1. The Week in Pictures

The next step, Stephenson said, is to look into how these motives play into people's level of distress over sexual dysfunction. Someone who has sex for love versus physical pleasure, for example, may be less worried if they don't orgasm regularly. The researchers also hope to expand the research beyond college students and into the wider population.

"[Sex] really is tied in with so many different variables related to the individual and the relationship and the larger culture," Stephenson said. "To come up with ways to think about sex as a science and as a society, it's important to at least attempt to understand these complex relationships."

HealthReasons for Having Sex Influence Satisfaction, Study Finds

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

posted: 05 November 2010 05:10 pm ET

Buzz up! del.icio.us Digg It! Newsvine redditComments (3) | Recommend (4)

Sexual satisfaction is usually thought of in terms of number of orgasms and time spent between the sheets. But a new study finds that a person's reasons for doing the deed can influence how satisfied they are afterward.

The research, reported online Oct. 22 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, finds that both men and women are more satisfied when having sex out of love and commitment, while mercenary types don't have much fun in bed — having sex to get material goods or to get ahead was associated with a less satisfying experience.

Why have sex?

Ads by GoogleDepends for $49.95/Case4 Bags of Depends & Free Shipping. Fast, Discreet Home Delivery. www.hdis.comWellbeing BookThe 5 Essential Elements to improve your wellbeing. Assess yours NOW. www.wbfinder.comSpice up the BedroomBring Back Your Natural Desire with this Herbal Remedy. Order Online! www.NativeRemedies.com

Most research on sexual function and satisfaction focuses on arousal and orgasm, said study researcher Kyle Stephenson, a Ph.D candidate in the laboratory of University of Texas at Austin psychologist Cindy Meston. But people have sex for diverse reasons, not just for physical pleasure,  Stephenson said. "What we wanted to do was just really to cast a wide net and see which [reasons] were associated with people being satisfied with their sex lives," Stephenson told LiveScience.

The researchers asked 544 college-aged men and women, most of them heterosexual, to take surveys on their sexual motivations and satisfaction.

Men who had sex to raise their self-esteem were less satisfied, as were men who had sex to get goods, favors or other resources.

Women had a broader range of associations, the researchers found. The connection between love/commitment and satisfaction was less strong for women than for men, though it was still present. Women who had sex to express something to their partner, like gratitude or apology, were also more satisfied.

Like men, women who had sex to acquire a self-esteem or resource boost were less satisfied. Having sex to have a new and exciting experience was also associated with less satisfaction.

Sex in context

The researchers aren't sure why more factors influenced women's satisfaction than men's. It may be that women play the sexual gatekeeper in many relationships, Stephenson said, so their motivations for sex are more likely to result in actual sex.

The next step, Stephenson said, is to look into how these motives play into people's level of distress over sexual dysfunction. Someone who has sex for love versus physical pleasure, for example, may be less worried if they don't orgasm regularly. The researchers also hope to expand the research beyond college students and into the wider population.

"[Sex] really is tied in with so many different variables related to the individual and the relationship and the larger culture," Stephenson said. "To come up with ways to think about sex as a science and as a society, it's important to at least attempt to understand these complex relationships."

Top 10 Aphrodisiacs

Top 50 Reasons Men and Women Have Sex

10 Surprising Sex Discoveries

© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments