How did you feel after you lost your v-card?

If it didn’t boost your ego, researchers would like you to know that you’re not alone. According to a study conducted at Penn State, college-aged women felt slightly worse about themselves after their first sexual encounter, while men felt slightly better about themselves. Time reports:

“Researchers started with a group of 434 freshmen, ages 17 to 19, and continued to track them for four years. Four times over that period, students were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing their satisfaction with their appearance. Within that time span, 100 students lost their virginity; those were the students on whom the researchers focused.

Judging from the questionnaire results, that first sexual experience had different emotional ramifications for men versus women: researchers found that women’s happiness with how they looked decreased a bit after having sex for the first time, while men’s satisfaction rose.”

Sara Vasilenko, the lead author of the study, speculates that the findings may be a reflection of society’s double standard for sex: women who sleep around have something to be ashamed about, but men who do so have something to be proud of. (Maybe you’ve heard about that…)

Vasilenko added that poor body image for women may also play a role.

Certainly, there are women for whom these findings don’t apply. There is no one size fits all conclusion about how an entire gender feels about anything.

But what’s important is that these issues are being studied at all — looking at sex more closely will likely help us learn how we can do it even better.

The Time article points out that sex ed classes could address ways to promote a healthier body image, or remind young folk that just because they feel good after getting to know someone in the biblical sense doesn’t mean they should go get to know everyone that way, or do it without protection.

Also, if women are being negatively affected by that nagging, persistent double standard, it’s one more reason that we need a more equitable attitude when it comes to sex. If there’s some sort of biological basis, well, comprehending our own biology has thus far proven pretty useful.

And if this study got the results that it did because all people react differently to all things, and the findings were were simply representative of those particular participants, that would also be nice to know, wouldn’t it?