Strong religious beliefs lead to more satisfying sex lives

According to a new study, people with strong religious beliefs are more satisfied with their sex life.

Those who say religion is important in their lives have less sex because they often abstain if they’re not in a relationship – but it makes them happier with their sex lives overall.

Researchers from the University of Exeter believe this could be because they have “lower expectations” of sex outside of marriage.

For both men and women, they found that the more people disapprove of loveless sex, the higher their sexual satisfaction.

And the more people approved of casual sex or sex without love, the less they enjoyed sex.

The team said the link between religious beliefs is linked to the frequency of sex – when people start having sex, they enjoy it, but once sex reaches a certain frequency, it becomes less important.

This led the team, whose study was published in the Journal of Sex Research, to suggest that there is an optimal frequency for greater sexual satisfaction.

Dr Nitzan Peri-Rotem, from the University of Exeter, said: “The relationship between frequency of intercourse and sexual satisfaction is neither simple nor straightforward.

“Across all types of relationships, too little or too much sex is associated with lower sexual satisfaction, suggesting that there is an optimum in terms of frequency related to higher levels of satisfaction.”

The role of gender

Gender was found to play a role in faith and sexual satisfaction – religious beliefs had a greater impact on the sex lives of married women than of married men.

Married women who were more religious had more sexual satisfaction than married women who were not religious.

However, if the men were married, their level of sexual satisfaction remained the same whether they were religious or not.

Another gender divide emerged in satisfaction levels between women who have a lot of sex and men who have a lot of sex.

Women have been found to derive less pleasure from sex the more sexual partners they have.

Having ten or more lifetime sexual partners decreased women’s sexual satisfaction, but the number of lifetime sexual partners had no impact on men’s satisfaction.

Dr Vegard Skirbekk, from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said: “As religious people are less likely to engage in casual sex and are more likely to limit sexual activity to a relationship based on love, it can lead to lower expectations of sexual activity outside of a formal union, as well as increased satisfaction with sex life in general.

“However, it is possible that religious feelings about the sanctity of marital sex, as well as disapproval of sex outside of marriage, matter more for women’s sexual satisfaction than for men’s.

“This is also evident by the relatively higher levels of sexual satisfaction among more religious cohabiting males when all other variables are held constant, whereas no similar relationship was found among cohabiting females.”

“Too much” sex can reduce satisfaction

Dr. Peri-Rotem believes their research shows that changing religious norms could be an important way to understand changes in sexual behavior.

He said: “Our research suggests that changes in sexual behavior need to be understood in the context of changes in religious norms and beliefs and other societal level trends.

“Delaying union formation is linked to less frequent sex, while also increasing exposure to casual sex among people with lower religious orientation.

“For women, having no sexual partners, as well as having at least ten lifetime sexual partners, was found to be associated with lower sex life satisfaction.

“In men, on the other hand, no relationship was found between the number of lifetime sexual partners and sexual satisfaction.

“However, disapproval of loveless sex and casual sex is linked to higher sex life satisfaction in both men and women.

“While sexual satisfaction initially increases with frequency of intercourse, it decreases again with a higher number of sexual occasions.

“Therefore, having ‘too much’ sex can lead to lower levels of satisfaction with sex life.”

Education has also been found to have an effect on sex life. Researchers have found that highly educated people have sex less often and feel less satisfied with their sex life than those who are less educated.

The researchers used data on men and women aged 18 to 59 from the UK’s Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.

Over four weeks, men reported having had sex more often than women, 4.4 times versus 4.0.

The trend for men to have more sex than women has continued throughout their lives, with nearly 40% of men reporting having had 10 or more sexual partners in their lifetime compared to a quarter of women.

About a quarter of women and men strongly agree with the statement “I am satisfied with my sex life”, while 14% of women and 17% of men said they were dissatisfied with their life sexual.

In the survey cohort, 11% of men and 16% of women said that religion and religious beliefs were very important to them.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they had never or almost never attended religious services.

Half of all respondents were married, 17% lived with a partner and a fifth did not have a stable partner.

Ruth R. Culp