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‘A smile on my face’: Women’s descriptions of sexual satisfaction

‘A smile on my face’: Women’s descriptions of sexual satisfaction

The declaration of sexual rights recognises that women’s sexuality contributes to their sense of pleasure and wellbeing, which impact overall fulfilment and satisfaction. Research indicates that sexual satisfaction is associated with relationship satisfaction. But what does sexual satisfaction mean? Although quantitative studies measure associations between sexual satisfaction and frequency of sexual behaviour or emotional intimacy, women’s experiences and descriptions of what sexual satisfaction means are few and far between.

Methods: in this study, in-depth face to face interviews with a sample of 18 women explored women’s experiences of sexual satisfaction.  

Results: Participants’ narratives indicated that sex was important to them as well as important to their relationships. For some women, experiences of sexual satisfaction were hindered by internalised sociocultural expectations of what should be sexually satisfying. For most participants, orgasm was not considered as either more or less significant than closeness and intimacy despite anecdotal discourses purporting that ‘men want sex and women want love’.

Conclusions: The need for sexual satisfaction was experienced alongside other needs for intimacy, recognition, romance, empathy, affection, assistance with domestic and child caring tasks and validation from partners about their worth in the relationship. Moreover, a positive relationship was evident between maturity, sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Orgasm, Sexual Behaviour, Sexual Satisfaction