How You Lost Your Virginity… Lasts A Lifetime?

couple kissing

For most of us, it was awkward, if not downright awful. And new research finds that how we lost our virginity can impact our sexuality for the rest of our lives.

It’s a rite of passage. Going from pre-pubescent “ew!” to teen or early adulthood “ah!” as we mostly stumble over hyper hormonal urges in hopes of some romantic fairytale happens in most cases, to all of us. Losing your virginity is rarely the stuff of steamy hot movie sex scenes—quite the contrary. For women, it’s often painful and even scary. For men, it can be a challenge to masculinity—a defining, primal moment encumbered by embarrassment and awe.

Researchers at the Universities of Tennessee and Mississippi set out to find just how much our first sexual encounter impacts our sexual behavior later in life. The paper, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, looked at more than 300 men and women, particularly focusing on the way they lost their virginity. The researchers wanted to know about the satisfaction of the experience, the level of anxiety or connection they felt with their partner, and how they behaved immediately following intercourse.

The researchers also had the subjects rate their current sex lives on similar levels, noting their feelings of control, satisfaction and overall well-being. Were they being respected? Honored? Achieving their sexual goals? They then recorded their sexual experiences in a diary for the following two weeks, noting again reactions to various sexual encounters.

When all the data was compiled, the researchers noted a trend: those who had positive first-time sexual encounters were more likely to continue having satisfying interactions through life. Those who experienced anxiety or negativity during their first sexual encounter were more likely to be more sexually dysfunctional and unsatisfied in future sexual relationships. The findings suggest that, while not conclusive, initial sexual experiences could have long-term implications on sexual satisfaction and ultimately, relationships.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.