Are looks really that important for sexual satisfaction? How about your own looks? Researchers in Norway wanted to find out if personal appearance satisfaction was correlated with sexual problems, if those problems were causing distress, and if they were having an impact on sexual satisfaction.
The study looked at 2,903 Norwegians who were in romantic relationships and were on average 47 years old. The participants were asked “How dissatisfied or satisfied are you with your physical appearance?” and if they had “experienced a lack of interest in sex, lack of enjoyment in sex, felt anxious during sex, felt no excitement during sex, or did not reach climax during sex over a period of 3 months or longer”.
Of those that responded, 45.7% reported having one or more sexual problems. The results showed those who were satisfied with their appearance reported having fewer sexual problems and had a “smaller likelihood of experiencing problems with lack of enjoyment, lack of excitement, and lack of climax”. While appearance satisfaction was unrelated overall to sexual problem related distress, it was correlated with having less distress about lack of excitement and lack of climax. The findings also showed a strong correlation between those that were satisfied with how they looked and their satisfaction with their romantic relationship.
BMI was the strongest negatively correlated factor with “satisfaction with appearance, sexual satisfaction, feelings of anxiety during sex, lack of excitement, and relationship satisfaction”. However, it was positively associated with age and relationship length.
This study was only a correlational study, in such there is no explanation yet for these findings. However the lead research postulates “we believe that spectatoring (i.e., seeing oneself from a third person perspective during sexual activity, rather than focusing on one’s sensations and/or sexual partner) is reduced when appearance satisfaction is higher.”