Quite recently I heard someone say that it is easier to come if you keep your socks on in bed. I soon dismissed that as an urban legend, but I had become curious. I remembered at least twice that I had sex and had very cold feet and then it just wouldn’t work. Would it be real?
Scientific research from Groningen
My own research led me to a study (Dutch) by the University of Groningen. In that study, brain scans were made of 13 heterosexual couples, ages 19 to 49, while having sex.
One of the main findings of the study was a link between comfort and the ability to orgasm. Women, in particular, can climax more easily if they are reassured and therefore less anxious. “When you’re scared, it’s very difficult to have sex,” Professor Gert Holstege, the study’s lead investigator, told the BBC.
What that has to do with socks? The study also found that cold feet got in the way of orgasm: Fifty percent of couples could achieve an orgasm without socks, but while wearing socks, that percentage increased to 80 percent. Unfortunately, the study only split the results by couples (and not by gender), so it’s unclear who exactly was better off with socks on. It would make sense to assume that these are women, given Holstege’s comments that women want to feel comfortable. But judging from my own (N = 1) experience, it might as well be the case with men.
So it is true? Do socks help you to come better?
Well … a study with 13 heterosexual couples doesn’t determine my idea of good scientific support. In 2016, a group of researchers in Finland published their findings based on five national surveys. These were multi-year studies on the female orgasm. The results showed that for the majority of women, the likelihood of an orgasm depended mainly on emotional safety; an orgasm is more likely when a woman finds herself in a situation with someone who ‘felt good’ or when it ‘clicked emotionally’. And warmth provides both physical and emotional security.
At the very basic biological survival level, we experience cold as a danger to the body, triggering the so-called ‘fight or flight response’. And that’s the opposite of the feeling of relaxation and comfort we need for an orgasm. When danger threatens, the amygdala, the fear-processing part of the brain, is automatically activated to scan the environment and gather information to determine if you are safe. Not only cold, but also being distracted by hearing someone approach, evokes the same ‘fight or flight response’. In this ‘fight or flight’ reaction, blood flows away from the genitals to other important body parts necessary for survival. As a result, it is hardly possible to get excited both physically and mentally. Never mind being able to cum.
The opposite is also true. When the body is warm and comfortable, you instinctively feel safe. Your muscles relax, the mind slows down, blood flows to the genitals, … All elements that contribute to arousal and the possibility of an orgasm.
But does it really work?
Mêh … It is sometimes said that white socks in sandals work great as a means of contraception. Socks (not stockings! Stockings are fine) are almost never really sexy. In addition, socks can also literally form a barrier to intimacy.
Still, a 2015 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research says climate change has an effect on birth rates. The report notes that “extreme temperatures can affect coitus frequency”. This means that when it comes to sex, bodies are indeed affected by temperature.
Does this mean that from now on we should put on a pair of socks when we are going to have sex? If you suffer from cold feet and find that you cannot relax enough as a result, then it is definitely worth a try.