Losing your virginity is a major life event, and science has begun to look at what makes it good, instead of focusing on negative aspects of adolescent sexuality like the risk of pregnancy or STDs.
What’s positive to you?
What does a positive first time mean to you? Physical pleasure? Being with a partner that puts you at ease? There’s a lot that’s involved in enjoyable sex, and before researchers could investigate further they thought about what it means to lose one’s virginity in a healthy way.
For one group of researchers, it’s far more than just risk-free sex – the experience should be mutual, respectful, and empowering. In their study, over 300 US university students answered detailed survey questions about what their first time was like. In another US survey of almost 2000 students, researchers considered both the physical and emotional sides of an enjoyable first time.
Figuring out what makes the experience positive is important because studies have shown that how someone loses their virginity can affect their sex life down the road, and Love Matters has reported on the impact of age and how satisfying it was elsewhere. This time around, as part of our My health, my choices campaign, we’re looking at what you can do to help make it an enjoyable experience, in every sense of the word.
It’s no surprise that a person’s first sexual partner affects how positive the experience is. Young adults who lose their virginity when they’re in a loving, long-term relationship compared to with a casual partner are more likely to enjoy it. That’s especially the case for women, who feel psychologically satisfied and empowered when their first time takes place in a healthy relationship.
It also seems to be important to plan ahead for the big moment – when it happens spontaneously, it’s more likely to be negative, and that’s true for both men and women.
In fact, both studies identified relationship quality as being one of the most important factors to a positive first experience, and recommend that young adults deepen and develop a loving relationship before they first have sex.
Feeling good about their bodies also makes for a more satisfying experience for both men and women, one of the studies revealed. For women, it’s a question of having good body self-esteem and being more accepting of their physical features. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to enjoy their first time if they see themselves as attractive and being in good shape.
Young adults should work towards seeing their bodies in a healthy way, something which involves being able to recognise that the shapes and sizes of most men and women in the media are far from realistic, say the researchers.
We'd love to hear about your first time sex experiences, hopes and wishes. Tell us below or on Facebook.