• Individuals with higher approval of casual sex had a negative association with sexual satisfaction
  • Too much or too little sex was associated with overall diminished sexual satisfaction
  • People who were more educated reported having less sex and lower sexual satisfaction

There appears to be a link between stronger religious beliefs and more sexual satisfaction, a new study has found.

The study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, found people to whom religious beliefs were important had less sex, but were, nonetheless, satisfied with their sex life. The reduced frequency of sex was in part due to their beliefs on abstinence.

"As religious individuals are less likely to engage in casual sex and are more likely to limit sexual activity to a relationship based on love this can lead to lower expectations of sexual activity outside a formal union, as well as increased satisfaction from sex life in general," co-author, Dr. Vegard Skirbekk from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said.

In the study, it was seen that having many or no lifetime sexual partners was connected to lower sexual satisfaction in women. No such association was reported in men.

Nevertheless, both men and women, who had higher approval of casual sex or sex without love, had a negative association with sexual satisfaction.

Also, too much or too little sex was associated with overall diminished sexual satisfaction, according to the study.

"The relationship between sex frequency and sexual satisfaction is neither simple nor straightforward; across all relationship types, too little or too much sex is associated with lower sexual satisfaction, suggesting that an optimum exists in terms of frequency related to higher satisfaction levels," co-author Dr. Nitzan Peri-Rotem from the University of Exeter said.

For their study, researchers analyzed the third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. The participants in the survey were aged between 18 and 59.

About 11% of men and 16% of women out of the total held strong religious beliefs and believed religion was an important aspect to them. Further, half of the subjects were married, while 17% co-inhabited with a partner. Another 5% did not report having a stable partner.

It was found men engaged in more sex than women in the last four weeks with a frequency of 4.4 compared to 4.0 for women. Also, 40% of men had had ten or more sexual partners in their life, while only 25% of women reported having had so.

More importantly, while a quarter of men and women agreed with the statement "I feel satisfied with my sex life," 14% of women and 17% of men said they were dissatisfied with their sex life.

Interestingly, people who were more educated reported having less sex as well as lower sexual satisfaction in comparison to less educated individuals.

"Our research suggests that changes in sexual behavior need to be understood in a context of changes in religious norms and beliefs and other societal level trends. The postponement of union formation is related to less frequent sex, while also increasing the exposure to casual sex among those with a weaker religious orientation," Dr. Peri-Rotem said.

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