Having This One Personality Trait Improves Your Sex Life, Study Says
Give your pleasure in bed a boost while improving your personal life.
It turns out the old cliché is true—you can't love someone until you love yourself. A Sept. 2020 study published by Body Image found that positive body image is associated with increased pleasure during sex. The study also concluded that being self-conscious about your body results in less pleasure and sexual dysfunction for both women and men. So, if you're looking to heat things up the bedroom, you need to start with yourself. Read on to find out more about the role of body confidence in bed, and to make sure those communication lines are open, This Is Exactly How Often You Should Talk About Sex With Your Partner.
The researchers behind the study believe that sexual function is an essential predictor of well-being. They endeavored to learn more about the psychosocial aspects that play a role in sexual performance—including body image. The study focused on a sample group of adults that have hooked up in the past month using dating apps.
The results confirmed that better body positivity resulted in higher sexual satisfaction and smoother functioning. However, increased self-consciousness during sex was linked to decreased sexual function. For women, this manifested in more pain and fewer orgasms, along with less lubrication and arousal. Men who were self-conscious exhibited more erection difficulty, but not ejaculation difficulty.
"These findings highlight the nuanced nature of body image and sexual function, and provide further evidence that interventions for women and men aiming to improve some body image constructs may improve sexual function as well," researchers said.
It makes sense that our bodies tense up when we're not happy with them, but what actually causes this to happen? Holistic health coach Jen Mayo says it all has to do with the nervous system and our biochemical makeup. "When our bodies are in a state of stress or anxiety and the sympathetic nervous system is activated, say by worrying about what a partner thinks of our thigh dimples or how our tummies have a little hang to them, from a biochemical perspective, the balance shifts towards stress hormone production and away from making feel-good chemicals like testosterone, progesterone, and endorphins," she explains.
Mayo points out the societal stressors that contribute to this reaction. "We live in a culture of people that, while seemingly highly sexualized, are very dissociated from their bodies," she says. Mayo asserts that to have amazing sex, you need to be present in your body. Anxiety can take your mind away from the situation to "a worry state or a fantasy world of distraction" rather than being present with yourself and your partner.
When you peel back the anxiety from the situation, it opens you up to being able to experience pleasure more freely. "People with better body image likely have better sex because they're engaging in less self-monitoring," says sex educator, coach, and writer Suzannah Weiss. "Self-monitoring is when you're thinking about what you look like, what you sound like, how you're performing, etc. instead of focusing on what's going on around you."
Focusing all of your energy on your body and your partner's perception of it closes you off to enjoying your time together. As Weiss notes, when "you're preoccupied with something while you're watching a movie, you won't be following the movie as closely, and you won't enjoy it as much."
To achieve the amount of pleasure you deserve, you need to first find peace with your body. "Humans can exist in one of two states: love or fear," says Mayo. "Amazing sex happens with the former, and it starts with one's self." And for more bedroom secrets, discover How Often Your Partner Is Faking It, Research Shows.