To be perfectly honest, I never much believed in the “sexual afterglow.” I mean, does sex really affect one’s appearance to the point that the person is glowing? Not literally glowing, of course, but it is told that when properly penetrated, a person appears more fresh and youthful. Research supports the notion, insisting sex zaps zits, hydrates the skin and can make your hair shine as if you were in a Pantene ad. This is perplexing. I don’t know about you, but after I have sex, I’m super sweaty and exhausted. “Drained” seems a more accurate descriptor. (Plus, it serves as a wicked double entendre.)
Perhaps my skepticism is attributed to the fact that I’ve always looked at sexual afterglow solely in the physical sense. But new research published in the journalPsychological Science states that sexual afterglow is mostly emotional. Due to the fact that we’re having less sex than ever before, researchers were keen to study the matter with regards to how long our sexual satisfaction–or our sexual “afterglow”–lasts post-penetration.
Researchers analyzed the results of two separate studies, each comprised a sample of roughly 100 newlywed couples. For two weeks, these couples kept a diary to track their sexual dalliances. Even if couples didn’t have sex that day, the sample had to complete a questionnaire rating how satisfied they were with their sex life, their partner, their relationship and marriage. The couples also took a marriage quality test at the beginning of the study and took another at the end, four to six months later.
No surprise, researchers noted that intercourse increased sexual satisfaction scores for the day, suggesting the sex is good, so pat yourselves on the back. More impressively, they found just one romp kept couples’ sexual satisfaction high for another two days. “Our research shows that sexual satisfaction remains elevated 48 hours after sex,” lead author, Andrea Meltzer, wrote. So there’s your answer. Sexual satisfaction lasts for two days.
The study cites a discernible range in how often couples have sex, but calculated the average couple had sex four times over a two-week period. Still, sexual frequency didn’t matter, as the two-day afterglow was consistent no matter how often the couples had sex or how long they had been together. Age and gender bore no impact either. Of course, couples who boasted the strongest sexual satisfaction scores were most satisfied with their marriages at the start of the study, even if they didn’t have sex that day. When it comes to sexual satisfaction, we obviously value quality over quantity.
However, when researchers checked in on the same couples four to six months later, the average marital satisfaction decreased across the board, giving credence to the waning romance of the glossy honeymoon phase. Not the best news, of course, but it’s nothing new. We previously reported that women lose sexual interest in their man after just one year of monogamy. Additionally, research published in 2013 found that the female libido plummets in long-term relationships.
But let’s not go there. This is a happy news story, after all. Most encouraging of all is this study may ease the shame of couples who aren’t the most sexually active. Trust us: just because you’re having less sex with your partner than others doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your sex lives. Instead, you may both boast lower libidos and therefore not require sex multiple times a week. Or maybe, just maybe, your sex is better quality. Everybody else’s meat is hamburger, and you’re kobe beef. Go with that.