Let’s Talk About Sex (Seriously)

SEX RESEARCH. The term itself is pretty self-explanatory. It’s literally the scientific study of sexual interests, behaviors, and functions.

As for it’s purpose? That too should be obvious: We study sex in order to understand why we are the way we are. It helps shed light on why we’re here. It’s allows us to understand why some of us are multiorgasmic, while others struggle to climax. And in the purest form of justification we study it because it’s fascinating.  

Yet I can almost guarantee, whenever I find myself reading a write up on recently released research, I always come across the ignorant comment at the bottom of the piece that goes something like this: SOMEONE ACTUALLY FORKED OVER CASH TO FUND THIS NONSENSE?

And I get it, some studies/topics may seem a bit more simplistic and superfluous than others—but I can guarantee there’s a usually a positive takeaway there for someone.

Case in point: A recent study came out last month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships that found the more comfortable you are with talking about sex, the more sexually satisfied you’ll be.

And when I first came across the study, I thought to myself: Well, duh.

Initially, the finding appeared to be pretty logical: The more open you are with your partner about what you want in the sack, the better off you are. Simple, right?

But here’s what threw me for a loop, if this finding is so commonsensical, why don’t more of us follow this logic?

The study indeed, was basic: Researchers asked 207 people to complete surveys about their sex lives touching upon how sexually satisfied they were, their apprehension about sexual communication, as well as the amount of non-verbal and verbal communication they felt took place while they had sex.

After analyzing the data, not only did they draw a parallel between strong communication and an increase in sexual satisfaction, they found that nonverbal communication ”moans, groans, grinding of the hips, etc.” while having sex was more closely linked to satisfaction than verbal communication.

The reasoning? Well, isn’t it obvious? It’s because even though we know telling our partner what we want in bed is more effective, it still doesn’t change the fact that talking about sex and asking for what we want can be intimidating.

In fact, according to the research, feeling anxious (about stating what we sexually desire) is one of the major contributors to dissatisfaction in bed.

So my point is, even though certain concepts in sex research may not come across as “earth shattering,” they’re still important.

I mean, I write about this stuff for a living. And even though I am fully aware that having good sexual communication (especially during the act) leads to better sex, I can guarantee I’m guilty of NOT speaking up when something wasn’t…er, floating my boat.

So how do we get over this silence barrier in the bedroom? What’s it going to take to get us to speak up and state what we like versus what we don’t? Well, sadly, I don’t have the answer for this. (Now Dr. Herbenick’s books on the other hand…just might.)

Maybe sexual confidence comes with practice. Maybe finding your own voice in the bedroom comes with age. But I do know one thing: Without sexual research calling attention to the things we need to work on, even on the most obvious levels, our sex lives could be a lot less thrilling.

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About Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller

Madeline Haller is an Assistant Editor for MensHealth.com. Haller received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University, with a second concentration in gender studies. When she's not writing for MSP/MH, you can find her running, enjoying a cup of coffee, or searching for the perfect shade of red lipstick.