TUESDAY, Jan. 29, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Good or bad, a person's experience the first time they have sex might influence how much they enjoy sex the rest of their life, researchers say.
"The loss of virginity is often viewed as an important milestone in human development, signifying a transition to adulthood," Matthew Shaffer, a doctoral psychology student at the University of Tennessee, said in a university news release. "We wanted to see the influence it may have related to emotional and physical development," he said.
Based on the new study findings, a positive initial experience predicted both physical and emotional satisfaction during later sexual encounters, Shaffer and colleagues said. In particular, feeling loved and respected by your partner during your first sexual experience was linked to a more emotionally satisfying sex life later.
The study included 331 anonymous young men and women who provided information about the first time they had sex and subsequent sexual experiences. Those who said they felt the most emotionally and physically satisfied the first time also reported the most fulfilling sex lives.
Men and women who had higher levels of anxiety and negative experiences when they lost their virginity reported having less fulfilling sex lives, according to the study published in the current issue of the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.
"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 in the news release.
Although the investigators found an association between first sexual encounters and later sexual satisfaction, the finding did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. However, a first-time sexual experience may set a tone for thought and behavior that guides a person's sexual experiences and understanding of information about sexuality, Shaffer suggested.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sexual health.