Sixty-four years ago this Sunday (August 20, 1953), the media first reported on some of the major findings from Alfred Kinsey's classic book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. As I'm sure many of you know, this was the first book of its kind to explore women's sexual attitudes and behaviors from a scientific point of view.Read More
The immense popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has prompted a lot of curiosity about BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism). Among other things, people have begun to wonder just how many of us have explored BDSM practices before. Unfortunately, however, this isn't a sexual activity that researchers have routinely inquired about on national sex surveys--at least not until now. A study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE offers some insight. Check out the infographic below for a look at Americans' interest in and experiences with various BDSM acts and some of the key takeaways from this survey.Read More
Sex stands to benefit us in many ways. For example, research has found that being sexually active appears to be good for our physical health—not only does having sex burn calories, but frequent orgasms have been linked to better immune function and longer life expectancies. In addition, sex has been linked to enhanced cognitive functioning (including better memory), which suggests the provocative possibility that having sex just might make us smarter. As if that weren’t enough, a new study published in the journal Emotion reveals that sex also seems to be good for our mental health and well-being.Read More
What is “normal” or “typical” when it comes to sex isn’t the same from one culture to the next. In fact, there’s incredible variation in sexual attitudes and practices throughout the world, and there’s a lot we can learn by adopting a cross-cultural lens.
Today, let’s take a look at sex in South Korea, a culture where sex is heavily stigmatized. Sex education is poor, open discussion about sexual matters is discouraged, and sex outside of marriage is highly frowned upon (despite the fact that the average age of first marriage is now 31 and most people live with their parents until they get married). So what does this mean for the sex lives of young adults?Read More
Like most sex researchers, I tend to study people who have sex--and, over the years, we've developed a large scientific literature about them. But what about the people who, for whatever reason, never start having sex? What do we know about them? As it turns out, surprisingly little. However, a recent paper published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some valuable insight. This paper looks at how many people in the United States enter adulthood without any sexual experience and identifies some of the characteristics associated with people who do not become sexually active.Read More
One of the most popular stereotypes of male sexuality is that guys want sex ALL the time. They're always in the mood because they're constantly thinking about it. After all, men think about sex once every seven seconds, right? Er, well, not exactly. Research has found that men don't think about sex nearly as often as that (it's more like twice per hour, at least among college-age guys).
Another common stereotype of male sexuality is that sex and emotion are totally separate for guys. In other words, it's widely believe that men's sexual desire doesn't have a whole lot to do with their emotional connection to their partners. As it turns out, though, research suggests that this belief isn't true either.Read More
A reader asked the following question:
“Are circumcised men less likely to have premature ejaculation?”
People have long been curious about what effects circumcision (or removal of the penile foreskin) has on men's sexual functioning in general, as well as their overall penile sensation; however, we’ll stick to your question here and look at whether this procedure is linked specifically to premature ejaculation.
As it turns out, a scientific review paper published earlier this year explored this very questionRead More
When we engage in sexual activity, it's usually with just one other person. Sometimes, however, people engage in “social” sexual experiences in which multiple people are involved in some way. These social sexual activities include everything from visiting strip clubs to participating in threesomes and orgies to attending sex, BDSM, and swinger parties. The prevalence of these social sexual experiences is something that, until now, we haven’t really known that much about. However, a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE offers some insight derived from a recent nationally representative US sample. Check out the infographic below for a look at the numbers and some of the key takeaways.Read More
If I asked you to imagine someone faking an orgasm, odds are that you'd probably picture a woman. It has long been assumed that fake orgasms are unique to women, even among scientists. In fact, until recently, researchers didn't even bother to ask men whether they were faking any of their orgasms because they thought they already knew the answer! As it turns out, however, women aren't alone in faking orgasms--a lot of guys have done it before, too.
So why are so many women and men pretending to orgasm? Do they do it for similar or different reasons? And is it a good or bad thing that so many people are faking it?Read More
There are a lot of different things that can motivate people to have sex. In fact, one study identified 237 distinct reasons for getting it on! But do our reasons and motivations for sex differ based on the type of relationship we're in (i.e., casual vs. committed)? Further, do our reasons for sex depend on our sexual orientation? A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior sheds some light on the answers, at least for women.Read More
Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term paraphilia to refer to an unusual sexual interest. More specifically, paraphilias are recurrent desires for uncommon sexual objects or activities. Although hundreds of desires have been described as paraphilias at one time or another, there are only eight specific paraphilis that are listed in the current version of the DSM (the psychiatry bible): fetishism, transvestism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, pedophilia, masochism, and sadism (see below for definitions).
Though these interests have long been thought to be rare, very little data exists that can speak to their prevalence in the general population. In fact, almost all of the research conducted on these topics so far has been limited to clinical samples, which doesn’t really give us much sense as to how many people might have had these interests at one time or another. However, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some insight.
Women don’t need to have sex in order to reach orgasm. In fact, they don’t necessarily even need any genital stimulation at all. Here are five ways women can experience what scientists call “non-genital” orgasms.
1. Some women can literally think themselves to orgasm.Read More
A reader asked the following question:
"If you've been circumcised, is there any way to get your foreskin back?"
Some circumcised men lament the removal of their foreskin, wishing to be "uncircumcised." This has led to the emergence of several products and procedures designed to restore men's foreskin; however, they remain quite limited in what they can accomplish.Read More
When you study sex for a living, people have a tendency to think that you really love sex—and that you must be having it all the time, too! In other words, people often assume that you’re doing “mesearch” instead of research.
But is that really the case? Are sex researchers any more sexually active than the rest of the population? Let's take a look at the data.Read More
Paraphilia is the term psychologists and psychiatrists use to refer to any unusual sexual interest. It’s important to note that an unusual interest is not necessarily harmful and it's not necessarily a sign that the person who has it is mentally disturbed either. Indeed, the mental health community makes a clear distinction between having a paraphilia (an unusual sexual interest) and a paraphilic disorder (an unusual sexual interest that is non-consensual in nature and/or that is seriously distressing to the person who has it).
Hundreds of paraphilis have been identified over the years, with some sources putting the number at over 500.Read More
Google Trends has quickly become one of the favorite research tools of sex scientists. Why? In part, because not everyone is willing to participate in sex studies and, among those who are, we know they don’t always answer survey questions honestly. For instance, some people won’t report what actually turns them on because they’re embarrassed by it. Likewise, others lie about how many people they’ve had sex with in order to make themselves look better in the eyes of others. When people go to Google, though, they have a powerful incentive to tell the truth because, otherwise, they won’t find what they’re looking for. As a result, Google searches are thought to be very revealing because they can give us a glimpse into the things that people might not be willing to share with scientists, or anyone else for that matter.
In the last few years, several research papers have been published exploring the contents of Americans’ Google search histories. In this post, we’ll take a look at five of the most fascinating things we’ve learned so far from this unique research tool.Read More
Bisexual people, both male and female, tend to be stereotyped negatively. For example, they are often seen as sexually confused, secretly gay, highly promiscuous, and incapable of monogamy. These negative views of bisexuals are held not just by many heterosexual persons, but also by many gays and lesbians as well. A recent study suggests that the popularity of these negative stereotypes could have implications for the sexual and romantic lives of bisexual persons.Read More
In the animal kingdom, there are some species that only mate seasonally. They do it just a few times per year, coinciding with their fertile periods. Humans, by contrast, are what scientists call "continuous breeders," meaning they are able to mate all year-round. However, the term "continuous breeders" masks the fact that humans' mating patterns still follow a very reliable seasonal pattern. Specifically, we tend to have more sex in the summer than we do at any other time of year.Read More
Paraphilia is a very general term used by psychologists to refer to any kind of unusual sexual interest. The number of desires that have been deemed paraphilic has grown substantially over the years to the point where hundreds of things have now been classified as unusual turn-ons. As it turns out, though, a lot of these desires aren’t so uncommon after all. In this article, we'll take a look at three specific sexual desires that are typically considered to be paraphilic, but that are actually quite common in terms of the number of people who have fantasized about them before.Read More
Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic change in support for same-sex marriage in the United States. Consider this: in 2007, the Pew Research Center conducted a national poll, which found that just 37% of Americans were in favor, while 54% were opposed. By contrast, this year’s poll found quite the reversal: nearly two-thirds (62%) are now in favor, with 32% opposed. This all-time high comes just two years after the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.Read More