(NaturalNews) Losing your virginity is commonly thought to be an experience of great significance, and now this idea has gained new support from a study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. Researchers from the University of Tennessee and University of Mississippi found that your first sexual experience may set the stage for how satisfying your future sex life will be.
"These results suggest that one's first-time sexual experience is more than just a milestone in development," researcher Carrie Smith said. "Rather, it appears to have implications for their sexual well-being years later."
Surprisingly, no prior studies have been conducted on the long-term influence of people's first sexual experience, the researchers said.
"The loss of virginity is often viewed as ... signifying a transition to adulthood," researcher Matthew Shaffer said. "However, it has not been studied in this capacity. We wanted to see the influence it may have related to emotional and physical development."
The researchers administered an anonymous survey to 331 young adults (both men and women) about the experience of losing their virginity, asking them to rank the emotions associated with the experience in terms of contentment, anxiety and regret (including whether they had felt scared or pressured during the experience or afterward). Participants also rated their current sex life in terms of satisfaction, control and well-being. Finally, they recorded and described every sexual experience they had over the course of two weeks in a diary that was submitted to the researchers.
Good experience means more satisfaction later
More than two-thirds of study participants reported that they had been in a relationship when they lost their virginities.
Participants who reported the greatest physical and emotional satisfaction from their first sexual experience were significantly more likely to report feeling physically and emotionally satisfied by later sexual encounters. In contrast, participants who felt negatively about their experience in losing their virginity reported higher levels of sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction, both emotionally and physically.
"While this study doesn't prove that a better first time makes for a better sex life in general, a person's experience of losing their virginity may set the pattern for years to come," Shaffer said.
He speculated that people may form habits or assumptions from their first sexual encounter that they then carry over into later sexual relationships.
"In essence, first-time sexual experience may create a general pattern of thought and behavior that we use to guide us in new sexual experiences and a framework for our understanding, perception or interpretation of new information concerning sexuality," he said.
Pam Spurr, author of "Sex Academy," said she was not surprised by the findings.
"When people who had first-time experiences they felt unhappy about - perhaps they felt pressurized, or too young, or felt used because they thought the person was in love with them too but the feeling wasn't reciprocated - it sets a pattern for feeling they are more likely to make bad choices in future," Spurr said.
"If your first time is poor, rather than learning from it, a lot of people harbor the negative feelings."