Creating a new measure for satisfaction in the bedroom

Published 22 August 2019
Satisfaction survey

They set out with the ambitious task of creating a new and fair measure of sexual satisfaction.

Now Southern Cross University researcher Dr Desirée Kozlowski and her Honours student Doug Williams’ have a world-first method that could soon replace older ways of measuring satisfaction in the bedroom.

The researchers invited Australians aged 18 and above from all walks of life to complete the Sexual Satisfaction Survey (SexSS) questionnaire anonymously and received more than 1,000 responses. The first set of results are now in.

Why do we need a new way to measure sexual satisfaction at all?

“Sexual health and sexual pleasure are fundamental aspects of our quality of life and are associated with a range of positive health, psychological, and social benefits,” says Dr Kozlowski.

“We felt that existing measures of sexual satisfaction were missing important information that made them less useful for comparing across individuals.

“Sexual satisfaction is about how well our experiences match our expectations. For example, if someone expects to have an orgasm every day but in reality, they have three a week, they’d score lower than another person who had no orgasms at all, but who didn’t expect to. That’s a problem with other measures that miss the nuance.”

The SexSS includes questions on people’s lived sexual experience, their expectations, and the importance they place on each aspect of sexuality.

So, did they find evidence of what has been dubbed the ‘orgasm gap’?

“The orgasm gap refers to research showing that men experience orgasm from heterosexual sex more often than women. Some have tried to explain this away with ideas that women are somehow incapable of orgasm to the same extent as men, or are just not interested, but those arguments don’t hold up,” Dr Kozlowski said.

“Firstly, the gap disappears for women in same-sex encounters: they orgasm at a comparable rate to men. And secondly, women achieve the same rate of orgasm as men when masturbating – and take about the same time to get there.

“In our sample, men did report higher expectations around orgasm, but there was no sex difference in overall satisfaction with orgasm. Men had higher expectations that they would please their partner/s, but women reported higher experience of pleasing their partner/s. Women placed considerably higher importance on avoiding fear, sexual health, and power sharing during sex, while men placed higher importance on feeling they had performed well.”

The research also found that more than 20 per cent of our sample experienced some degree of sexual dysfunction. Dr Kozlowski says there is clearly a need to be talking about this in order to work toward better outcomes.

“While not everyone needs or wants to be sexually active, most do, and satisfying sex—whatever that means to an individual—can be a great source of pleasure,” Dr Kozlowski said.

“It’s also a fun way to lower stress and boost immunity.”

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or jessica.nelson@scu.edu.au