Sex Isn't All About Me?

Young women's self-esteem, independence and empathy are positively associated with sexual pleasure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A recent study indicates healthy psychological and social development lead to another good thing: healthy sexual pleasure. For women, healthy sexual development requires psychological tools including empathy, self-esteem and independence.

Adena Galinsky, PhD, co-author of the study and a doctoral student with Bloomberg School’s Center for Adolescent Health hypothesizes that empathetic people care more about their partner's needs and thus prioritize meeting their partner's sexual needs. Additionally, empathetic people derive pleasure filling their partner's needs.

"Men and women both require empathy to truly experience sexual pleasure."

Galinsky, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago reports that sexual health includes more than birth control and prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases. The next step of sexual health is sexual well-being.

Galinsky goes on to point out that for a woman to achieve sexual enjoyment probably boosts their self-esteem and independence.  Furthermore, self-esteem and independence are more important to a young woman's sexual pleasure as those two qualities allows them to enjoy sexually communicating and exploring.

Freya Sonenstein, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Adolescent Health adds that programs focused on the prevention of sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy should use this information regarding sexual pleasure when developing  education programs about sexual awareness.

The study's aged 18-26 participants looked at the association between three developmental assets: self esteem, independence and empathy and how those lead to sexual pleasure among young adult women and men in committed heterosexual relationships.

Among the young women, measures of self-esteem, independence and empathy are positively associated with sexual pleasure. Galinsky reports that these three assets enable young women to achieve higher degrees of sexual pleasure.

For the young men in the study, sexual enjoyment  is consistently associated only with empathy. Also, these young men reported having an orgasm most or all of the time while having sex with their partner. Less than half of the young women reported having an orgasm that frequently.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 3, 2011
Last Updated:
June 8, 2011