A Healthy Lifestyle May Support Sexual Satisfaction Over Time

A Healthy Lifestyle May Support Sexual Satisfaction Over Time

Most of us are aware of the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Increased energy, improved mood, better sleep, better strength, improved self-confidence, and enhanced longevity and quality of life are all oft-touted benefits of a healthy lifestyle. However, did you know that a healthy lifestyle may also support sexual satisfaction? According to a new study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, engaging in healthy behaviors contributes to the maintenance and enhancement of sexual satisfaction over time.

Understanding what contributes to long-term sexual satisfaction is important for overall well-being, impacting a person’s self-esteem, relationships, and health. Previous research has explored how factors like age, gender, and physical health influence sexual satisfaction.

It has also been shown that factors like exercise, alcohol consumption, chronic disease, and smoking can all affect sexual function. For example, physical activity has positive effects on sexual functioning, while smoking has negative effects. Longitudinal studies suggest a link between good health behaviors and sexual function, but their impact on satisfaction with sex life remains underexplored.

Therefore, the creators of this study aimed to fill this gap in knowledge by investigating how multiple positive health behaviors over nine years would impact a person’s sexual satisfaction, providing a broader understanding of health behavior’s role in sexual well-being.

To this end, the researchers utilized data from the Health and Social Support Study, a Finnish study focused on the working-age population. This study included responses from follow-up surveys conducted in 2003 and 2012, with a longitudinal sample of 10,671 individuals after exclusions.

The health behaviors of the participants, including exercise, diet, alcohol consumption, and smoking, were assessed through self-reported measures. Each behavior was scored 0 or 1, 0 for not meeting the health recommendation and 1 for meeting the recommendation, resulting in a health behavior sum score (HBSS) ranging from 0 to 4.

Satisfaction with sex life was measured using a 7-point Likert scale, with 1 being “very satisfied” and 7 being “very unsatisfied.” Linear regression models were employed to examine the association between HBSS (health behaviors) in 2003 and satisfaction with sex life in 2012, adjusting for various covariates such as chronic diseases, importance of sex life, and living status (whether living with a partner or alone).

In the study, 63.7% of the participants were women, with fairly equal representation across age groups. Most participants (77.7%) lived in a couple relationship. Those with better health behaviors in 2003 showed improved satisfaction with sex life in the 9-year follow-up. Satisfaction with sex life in 2012 was associated with various factors, including baseline satisfaction, age, gender, education, presence of chronic diseases, importance of sex life, and living status.

Ultimately, this study showed a positive link between healthy behaviors and satisfaction with sex life over nearly a decade, even when considering other important factors. This finding could be a potential motivator for individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles. While the effect of health behaviors on satisfaction with sex life was modest compared to other factors, it highlights the broader benefits of healthy living beyond physical health.

For more information on this topic, please read these publications from the ISSM Journals: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and Sexual Medicine Open Access:

Health-Related Lifestyle Factors and Sexual Dysfunction: A Meta-Analysis of Population-Based Research

Sexual Function, Obesity, and Weight Loss in Men and Women


Stenlund, S., Sillanmäki, L., Koivumaa-Honkanen, H., Rautava, P., Lagström, H., & Suominen, S. (2024). A healthy lifestyle can support future sexual satisfaction: Results from a 9-year longitudinal survey. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 21(4), 304–310. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsxmed/qdae009

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