You sent us a piece of news that has spread on a number of websites which claims that having sex with socks on increases the likelihood of achieving orgasm. This information is NOT VERIFIABLE. No studies exist to prove this claim, let alone one that names a specific percentage of likelihood. The information originally came from an article published in the BBC in 2005 about a study carried out on a group that was too small to be a representative sample. The ability to achieve orgasm is influenced by different factors, including mental well-being, and the data vary based on the person’s sex.
Having sex with socks on increases the likelihood of achieving orgasm by 30%
The first time we found this topic mentioned was in a June 2005 article published by the BBC. We saw immediately that the main subject of that article was not socks: the study analysed the differences in the way the brain responds during real and fake orgasms. According to an October 2005 publication by Wellcome Trust (p. 44), Gert Holstege, a neuroscientist and member of the Center for Uroneurology at the University of Groningen, presented the results at a conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in 2005.
Verificat contacted the lead author of the article, Gert Holstege, Professor Emeritus of the University of Groningen, who explained that “the idea that women wearing socks have a greater likelihood of achieving orgasm does not come from a scientific article but from newspapers that interviewed me after I gave a presentation on the basics of orgasms in men and women”. On top of that, he adds, during the study, the participants asked for socks because they had cold feet, but in no moment did the socks play an important role during the sexual activities. So the conclusion that having sex with socks on increases the likelihood of achieving orgasm by 30% was not one drawn by the original study, despite myriad websites spreading that message over the past few years (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, among others).
In the aforementioned BBC article, Holstege emphasised that, in the study, 50% of the 26 people involved achieved orgasm without wearing socks, but this figure increased to up to 80% when they were wearing socks. The famous 30% was derived from these figures. But the calculation is wrong: in reality, the increase would be 60%. In a July 2005 interview on the Australian ABC Radio National network, Holstege refers to the socks as a factor that helped the volunteers feel comfortable, and explains that “one of the things that they sometimes didn't like is that they were having cold feet”. So they put their socks back on. That was the only reference on the subject we could find.
Ana Rosa Jurado, member of the board of directors of the Spanish Academy of Sexology and Sexual Medicine (Academia Española de Sexología y Medicina Sexual, or AESMS) and coordinator of the Women’s Care working group of the Spanish Association of General Practitioners (Sociedad Española de Médicos de Atención Primaria, or SEMERGEN; Spanish only), explains to Verificat that “at the moment, there is no evidence that sleeping with someone while wearing socks increases the likelihood of experiencing more sexual pleasure”.
Miguel Ángel Rando (Spanish only), professor at the University of Málaga (UMA), coordinator of the UMA Psychological Care Service, and president of the Spanish Association of University Psychological and Psychopedagogical Services (Asociación Española de Servicios Psicológicos y Psicopedagógicos Universitarios, or AESPPU), talks about the factors that can influence orgasm and says that, when talking about what the influences are, socks would be the last one mentioned.
What’s more, he adds that “the factors that influence orgasms are the right conditions: that we’re with the right person, in the right place, and that there is a good connection. It is very subjective; everybody likes certain things or needs certain elements to be aroused. That is the key for achieving orgasm and a high level of excitement”.
In the search we performed, we did not find a single scientific article that mentioned a link between sexual intercourse and wearing socks.
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