Marital satisfaction increases with an active sex life, and a new study suggests that a sexual ‘afterglow’ helps to bond partners in the long term.
Following sexual intercourse, it was found that there is a 48-hour period afterward in which both people experience a heightened level of sexual satisfaction. This feeling of sexual satisfaction therefore leads to a higher level of marital satisfaction.
The lead author of the study, Andrea Meltzer of Florida State University, explained, “Our research shows that sexual satisfaction remains elevated 48 hours after sex. And people with a stronger sexual afterglow — that is, people who report a higher level of sexual satisfaction 48 hours after sex — report higher levels of relationship satisfaction several months later.”
The flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science published this study in which several newlywed couples reported levels of satisfaction, kept a daily diary and reported how often they had sex. The data was actually gathered over two different studies, both of which required the same levels of participation from the subjects. One of the studies involved 96 newlywed couples, while the other examined over 115.
Every night, the participants were asked to report whether or not they had sex with their partner, and how satisfied they were with their sex life, their partner, their marriage and their relationship as a whole. This was recorded on a seven-point scale, with one being the least satisfied and seven being the most satisfied.
On average, the participants reported engaging in sexual intercourse four times every 14 days. On a day when they did have sex, the participants rated their levels of sexual and marital satisfaction much higher than on other days. This satisfaction lasted throughout the next two days and was constant across all of the participants despite age, gender or length of relationship.
“This research is important because it joins other research suggesting that sex functions to keep couples pair bonded,” Meltzer concludes.
While most of the participants did slowly start to report lower levels of satisfaction as time wore on, the findings remained consistent in that a more active sex life led to better satisfaction with their relationship. Previous research shows that a man’s sperm does decrease when sexual activity passes a certain point, but replenishes after three days. This can explain the ‘afterglow’ effect lasting for about 48 hours, and when the man’s sperm is replenished, it begins to fade.
“Our research shows that sexual satisfaction remains elevated 48 hours after sex. The afterglow appears to last approximately the same length of time that it takes for peak sperm concentration to be restored,” said Meltzer.
The same effect was shown in females across the board, but scientists have yet to release research detailing what may cause the same effect in women.
The study did not examine homosexual couples or couples over the age of 30.