Couples who communicate more about sex tend to have better sex, study finds

There appears to be an important link between talking about sex and having good sex — especially for women. According to a new study in The Journal of Sex Research, couples who communicate more tend to have a better sex lives.

“One line of my research focuses on couples’ sexual communication and its benefits for romantic relationships. In reviewing the literature, I recognized that sexual communication is often discussed in papers that focus on sexual functioning, but there had not been a review about how strongly sexual communication was related to sexual function,” said study author Allen B. Mallory of the University of Texas at Austin.

“My co-authors, who are experts in the sexual function field, had also noticed a lack of studies examining dyadic factors in research on sexual function. We decided to join our interests to embark on this research project.”

The researcher conducted a meta-analysis of 48 previous studies that included measures of couples’ sexual communication and various aspects of sexual functioning, such as desire, arousal, erection, lubrication, orgasm, and pain. The studies included 12,145 participants in total.

“Talking with a partner about sexual concerns seems to be associated with better sexual function. This relationship was most consistent for orgasm function and overall sexual function — and uniquely related to women’s sexual desire,” Mallory told PsyPost.

“That is, for both men and women, talking about sex with their partners was associated with better orgasm and greater overall sexual well-being. For women specifically, sexual communication with a partner was related to increased sexual desire.”

The link between communication and sexual functioning was also stronger in studies where the participants were married.

But the study — like all research — includes some limitations.

“The first caveat is that many of these effects were small. This suggests that, while sexual communication is important for some domains of sexual function, it is part of a larger combination of factors that facilitate sexual health,” Mallory explained.

“The second caveat is that the relationships demonstrated in the paper are correlations, so the direction of causality is unclear. Though sexual communication may ’cause’ greater sexual function, it is also possible that people who are more sexually functional have better communication with their partner.”

“Last, although our study establishes that there are generally consistent positive correlations between sexual communication and better sexual function, our study does not elaborate on why the two are related,” Mallory said.

“Much more research is needed to address the ways in which couple-level factors, like sexual communication, help or hinder sexual function. We hope that our study will be a starting point for researchers interested in exploring this area.”

The study, “Couples’ Sexual Communication and Dimensions of Sexual Function: A Meta-Analysis“, was authored by Allen B. Mallory, Amelia M. Stanton, and Ariel B. Handy.