Sexual Satisfaction May be Connected to “Physiological Synchrony”

Sexual Satisfaction May be Connected to “Physiological Synchrony”

Do you ever feel physically “in tune” with your partner? It’s possible that sexual satisfaction is connected to your sense of “physiological synchrony.”

The term physiological synchrony refers to instances when aspects of one person’s autonomic nervous system aligns with – or is in synch with – another person’s. The autonomic nervous system controls bodily functions that you don’t always think about, like breathing and heart rate.

In a November 2019 Journal of Sexual Medicine study, researchers worked with 28 heterosexual couples (average age 26) who had been in a monogamous sexual relationship for at least three months. The couples completed questionnaires about their sexual function and sexual satisfaction.

The couples were then brought to a private room, and each partner was connected to an electrocardiogram machine for heart rate measurements.

Next, each couple did two tasks. In the first task, they gazed at each other for five minutes while not making any sounds or facial gestures. In the second task, they were asked to “mirror” each other for five minutes, although the instructions were intended to be “relatively vague.”

When the researchers analyzed the participants’ heart rates, they did discover physiological synchrony, “with both men reliably predicting the [heart rate] of their female partners, and women reliably predicting the [heart rate] of their male partners.”

The study was considered preliminary, and further research was recommended to learn more about couples’ autonomic responses and sexual health.


The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Freihart, Bridget K., MSW and Cindy M. Meston, PhD

“Preliminary Evidence for a Relationship Between Physiological Synchrony and Sexual Satisfaction in Opposite-Sex Couples”

(Full-text. Published online: November 7, 2019)

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