Arch Sex Behav

2021 Aug 9

Jonathon J Beckmeyer Debby HerbenickTsung-Chieh FuBrian DodgeJ Dennis Fortenberry

Excerpts:

We did not find orgasm or most sexual behaviors to be significantly associated with sexual pleasure…. Adolescents may be focused on building relational intimacy through sexual behavior …

Specifically, cuddling with partners, emotional intimacy, and wantedness were all associated with greater sexual pleasure. … Most sexual behaviors, having experienced orgasm, and the situational context of sexual experiences were not associated with sexual pleasure.

Abstract

Compared to studies on sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention, sexual pleasure has received limited attention in the adolescent sexual development literature. In the present study, we used data from 157 adolescents (66 females; 14 to 17 years old), with a partnered sexual experience in the past 12 months to explore adolescents’ sexual pleasure. First, we examined adolescents’ perceptions of pleasure during their most recent partnered sexual experience. We then used information about those sexual experiences to identify correlates of sexual pleasure. Adolescents’ reports of sexual pleasure were mixed. Although 17.8% reported their sexual experience was extremely pleasurable and 36.5% reported it was quite pleasurable, 26.6% indicated moderate pleasure, 13.1% a little pleasure, and 3.3% reported no pleasure. Sexual pleasure was primarily associated with aspects of sexual experiences that reflected socioemotional intimacy and desire. Specifically, cuddling with partners, emotional intimacy, and wantedness were all associated with greater sexual pleasure. Additionally, adolescents found sex more pleasurable when it occurred with a friend, but less pleasurable when it involved genital rubbing. Most sexual behaviors, having experienced orgasm, and the situational context of sexual experiences were not associated with sexual pleasure. Thus, specific sexual behaviors and orgasm may have less impact on sexual pleasure than feelings of emotional intimacy and desire. The diversity of perceived sexual pleasure and its associations with intimacy and desire suggest that, during adolescence, partnered sexual experiences are not primarily motivated by anticipated physical pleasure.