Senior Project Advisor

Mary Hunt

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2021


college students, sexual satisfaction, emotional, physical


Introduction: Sexual satisfaction, often viewed only through the lens of physical satisfaction, also includes emotional satisfaction and is influenced by sociocultural determinants, such as gender and sexual orientation. This mixed-methods study explored these facets of satisfaction among Western Washington University students. Method: A large convenience sample (N = 924) of college students participated in an online survey from October 2020 to January 2021. Participants were majority women (68%), 43.7% in a relationship and 56.3% single, and identified as a variety of sexual orientations: heterosexual (52%), bisexual (24%), LGQ+ (24%). Participants responded to closed-ended survey questions about sexual satisfaction and 1 open-ended response question: “what do you wish your partner knew that you feel you could never tell them?” The quantitative data were analyzed with chi-squares and qualitative data with an inductive thematic analysis. Results: Seven themes emerged in the qualitative data related to many facets of sexual satisfaction. In the quantitative data, men reported being more satisfied from partner orgasm than other genders. Single participants, more than those in a relationship, were significantly more neutral or dissatisfied. There were no differences in reports of satisfaction by sexual orientation. Discussion: College students’ satisfaction comprises many elements, some of which they do not feel comfortable openly sharing, despite reporting high comfort in quantitative questions. Differences by relationship status and gender may be a function of sexual scripts and gender roles. Future education should focus on increasing open and comfortable discussion about sexual needs and sexual pleasure of women and gender expansive individuals.


Health and Human Development

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Sex (Psychology); Intimacy (Psychology); Pleasure; Communication and sex






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