Sexuality and U
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Sexual Health

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Sexual Satisfaction

 

In his best-selling book The Joy of Sex, Alex Comfort writes that “sex ought to be a wholly satisfying link between two affectionate people from which they emerge unanxious, rewarded, and ready for more.”

He adds that there are only two rules one need follow to have good sex - don’t do anything you don’t really enjoy, and find out your partner’s needs and try not to balk at them if you can help it.

Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes “good sex”, experiencing sex and their own sexuality in unique ways. And while pleasure and orgasm can certainly play a big part in the equation, attaining an overall sense of sexual satisfaction in life can often require a lot more.

Here’s how Canadian researchers MacNeil and Byers describe it:

“Sexual satisfaction is not just physical pleasure, nor is it simply the absence of dissatisfaction or problems. Rather, sexual satisfaction involves the overall feeling we are left with after considering the positive and negative aspects (or sexual rewards and costs) of our sexual relationships.”

That being said, pleasure and orgasm are enjoyable “rewards” whether we experience them on our own or with a partner.

Physical Pleasure

The human body can experience physical pleasure in many different forms - from hugging, kissing or gentle touching to the highs experienced during exercise. For now, let’s talk about the physical pleasures of sexual arousal, either by oneself or with a partner.

“Seeking sexual satisfaction is a basic desire, and masturbation is our first natural sexual activity. It’s the way we discover our eroticism, the way we learn to respond sexually, the way we learn to love ourselves and to build self-esteem.” 

- Betty Dodson, renowned artist, author and sex educator

Sexual pleasure can also be experienced in many forms - from masturbation, touching or oral sex to sexual fantasies and a wide range of other sources. There are also many ways to heighten this sexual pleasure - by being comfortable with yourself and your partner, for example, or by waiting for the mood to be right for both of you, or by being certain that you are protected from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection.

Orgasms

From a purely physical standpoint, male and female orgasms are quite similar. They are both a series of rhythmic muscle contractions accompanied by pleasurable, often intense sensations.

Mentally, however, they can be experienced quite differently, as each person has his or her own way of describing the feeling of orgasm. Excitement and arousal begin the process, followed by a plateau of sexual response and then the orgasm itself, an intense sensation that results in a release of sexual tension.

It is important to remember that orgasm doesn’t always follow arousal and excitement, and may not be necessary for you to enjoy good sex.

Good Sex

“Good sex” is a highly individual and unique experience. How you perceive sex has a lot to do with what you’ve learned about it, how it’s viewed by your society or culture, and what value you place on it as a part of your life.

In the context of an ongoing sexual relationship, good sex can mean knowing what you want and what your partner wants, knowing how to talk about it comfortably, and never being forced to do anything you don’t want to do.

Having good sex in a relationship can contribute to a person’s overall sexual satisfaction, but it’s not the only factor. Characteristics that often make the difference between being in a happy relationship and being in an unhappy relationship also appear to enhance sexual satisfaction. Characteristics such as good communication and problem-solving skills, realistic shared expectations, and being able to enjoy each other’s company in other aspects of life.

Life changes, like having children and getting older, can also have an impact on sex and sexual pleasure (both positive and negative). Dealing with such changes could require you and your partner to be flexible, recognize your limitations and even shift the way you think - and it is always important to keep the lines of communication open.