healthHealth and Medicine

Study Reveals Some Unfortunate But Unsurprising News About Newlyweds' Sex Lives


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Ah, stock image libraries. You are just so awful. Realstock/Shutterstock

Survey after survey suggests that men, somewhat unsurprisingly, have a perception problem. This one, for example, notes that members of the XY-club often think their partner achieved orgasm during their most recent risqué rendezvous. Women, on the other hand, often report otherwise.

A new study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, has conducted a somewhat comprehensive piece of research in order to dig down into the numbers a little more precisely than before. They found that when it comes to newlywed heterosexual couples, 87 percent of the husbands report that they orgasm consistently while engaging in midnight mischief. For wives, that falls to 49 percent.


The figure that really stands out, however, is this: 43 percent of husbands misperceived how frequently their wives experienced orgasms. An orgasm gap is one thing, but an orgasm perception gap is another confounding problem that, quite frankly, adds to the enormous pile of evidence suggesting women should just revolt and take over the planet.

Lead author, Nathan Leonhardt of Brigham Young University, told IFLScience that they have a “few guesses” why the misperception gap is so strikingly large. “When a husband overperceives how often she's orgasmic, she might be faking orgasm in hopes of him feeling more satisfied with the experience,” he opined.

“When a husband underperceives how often she's orgasmic, she might not have been open about whether she orgasmed or not, leaving the husband with nothing but his best guess.”

Assuming that it's not that husbands are often unattentive to their wives' needs - and it very well could be in some cases - then this is likely to be a communication issue. “If both partners are comfortable with their own sexuality and able to accurately communicate how they feel about their experiences, wives will more likely achieve orgasm, and both partners will likely experience higher sexual fulfillment,” Leonhardt suggested.


This BYU study has some shortcomings that the researchers clearly state. It may have used a nationally representative sample of 1,683 newlywed heterosexual couples, but the US, of course, is full of LGBTQ+ couples, not just straight newlyweds. That’s something that can be looked into with additional research, however, and this paper is nevertheless pretty solid stuff.

The authors note from the outset that self-reported orgasm, along with the (mis)perception of a partner’s orgasm, has been looked into before.

The problem is that such research rarely uses “dyadic” data, that which simultaneously takes into account both members of a system – in this case, a newly forged legal partnership. Additionally, a nationally representative sample isn’t frequently used, nor are – according to the team – many potentially confounding variables taken into account, like sexual communication.

The researchers set out to change that, and, in their own words, aimed “to provide a more complete picture of how the orgasmic experience within the heterosexual couple influences individual and partner sexual and relationship satisfaction.”


First, the couples were invited to fill out a Couples Satisfaction Index, a pre-existing metric, to determine their own relationship satisfaction. Then, they filled out a bespoke survey tool designed by the team that determined their sexual satisfaction. From these results, a quantitative model was born, one that hoped to expand on the results of the surveys.

Apart from the aforementioned points, the team found some other noteworthy trends. The relationship satisfaction of wives, for example, was positively associated with both wives’ and husbands’ sexual communication. Their sexual satisfaction, however, was correlated with their self-reported orgasm frequency, as well as both partners’ sexual communication.

The husbands’ relationship satisfaction was much the same as the wives. Conversely though, their sexual satisfaction was correlated with their perception of their wives’ orgasm frequency, as well as both partners’ sexual communication.

Among other things, that suggests that any new husbands reading about this study will find that their sexual satisfaction will suddenly drop, based on the revelations above. Sorry about that.


The authors conclude on a rather pertinent note, one that infers that the future really should be female.

“When counseling couples, clinicians should give particular attention to the wife's orgasm experiences, to potentially help both husbands and wives have higher sexual satisfaction,” they remark.


healthHealth and Medicine
  • tag
  • sex,

  • study,

  • perception,

  • men,

  • women,

  • frequency,

  • heterosexual,

  • orgasms,

  • newlyweds,

  • orgasm rate,

  • gap