7 Reasons To Give Thanks For Sex Today

7 Reasons To Give Thanks For Sex Today

For all of my readers celebrating Thanksgiving today, don't forget to give thanks for sex! Why? Research has found that sex is good for us in numerous ways, both physically and psychologically. In this post, I've pulled together a list of seven reasons to be thankful for sex today (and every other day of the year). 

1. Sex is a multi-purpose activity--one that allows us to meet a wide range of needs. Believe it or not, scientists have identified at least 237 distinct reasons/motivations for having sex! Not only is sex a fun and pleasurable way to pass the time, but it's also a potential way to reproduce, to demonstrate love and affection, and to find relief (studies have found that, for couples, having sex on one day is linked to feeling less stress the following day). As you can clearly see, sex has the potential to do a lot for us.

Read More

The Psychology of Human Sexuality (2nd Edition) is Now in Print!

The Psychology of Human Sexuality (2nd Edition) is Now in Print!

I've taught human sexuality courses in colleges and universities for more than a decade. Teaching a course on this subject obviously poses a number of unique challenges, but one of the biggest for me was finding the right textbook. Don't get me wrong--there are a ton of fantastic sex books out there written by superstars in the field; however, none of them offered the perspective that I take in my class.  As someone working in a psychology department, I want a book that emphasizes psychological research and theory, as opposed to one that largely dwells on the clinical and biological side of things. My students want this too. In fact, for the first several years I taught this class, my end-of-semester evaluations had a lot of comments along the lines of “great class, but where’s the psychology?” Given that I couldn’t find a book that met my needs and the needs of my students, I decided to write my own, which I titled The Psychology of Human Sexuality.

The first edition was published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2014, and the second edition will be released on December 8, 2017. Let me tell you a little bit about the book and what's new in the revised edition.

Read More

Kissing Is Not A Universal Sexual And Romantic Behavior Across Cultures

Kissing Is Not A Universal Sexual And Romantic Behavior Across Cultures

Many sexuality researchers and educators have claimed that kissing is a universal or near universal sexual and romantic behavior. For example, several sexuality textbooks explicitly say that kissing isn't just popular in the U.S. and other Western countries, but “it is also very common in most other societies” [1]. These claims make sense in light of research suggesting that kissing has evolutionary significance. For instance, some researchers have suggested that kissing could be adaptive to the extent that it promotes an exchange of healthy bacteria. At the same time, others have claimed that kissing might play an important role when it comes to mate choice.

However, if we truly want to make claims about the universality of kissing, we really need a large cross-cultural study to explore whether kissing actually occurs in different cultures and societies. A recent study published in the American Anthropologist does precisely this, and the results suggest that kissing may not be the universal behavior it has been previously assumed to be [2].

Read More

Sexual Orientation and Mental Health: Are Bisexuals at Greater Risk for Depression and Anxiety?

Sexual Orientation and Mental Health: Are Bisexuals at Greater Risk for Depression and Anxiety?

Psychologists have long known that gays and lesbians have an elevated risk of depression and anxiety compared to heterosexual individuals. This health disparity is thought to be due in large part to the chronic, high levels of stress faced by sexual minorities due to their stigmatized social status.

But what about bisexual persons? Do they face similar mental health disparities? Are they perhaps even worse off due to the fact that bisexuals often face prejudice from both the gay and heterosexual communities? Unfortunately, most research on the mental health of sexual minorities has lumped bisexuals together with gays and lesbians, making it difficult to determine exactly how bisexual individuals stack up relative to other groups. However, a new review paper published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some insight.

Read More

STD Rates Are Rising, But It’s Not Because of Tinder and Grindr

STD Rates Are Rising, But It’s Not Because of Tinder and Grindr

In the modern world, we have a tendency to blame almost all of our problems on technology--and this is especially true when it comes to sexual problems. For example, I’ve written a lot about how we like to blame everything on pornography, from sexual violence to risky sex to erectile dysfunction, among other things. In all of these cases, porn serves as a convenient target, but it's not necessarily the right one.

Today, I want to focus on a different form of technology that's been getting a lot of blame for sexual problems: online dating apps. They’ve been in the news a lot lately, with many pointing to them as the culprit for rising rates of STDs. Headlines like this make it clear what I mean: “Tinder and Grindr Dating Apps are Causing Cases of Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and HIV to soar.”

Read More

Video: Are Romantic Matching Algorithms Possible?

Video: Are Romantic Matching Algorithms Possible?

Eharmony and other popular online dating sites promise to help users find compatible romantic partners through the use of specialized matching algorithms. These services were founded on the idea that romantic attraction is something that is both rational and predictable. But is that really the case?

Read More

What A Decade Of Data From Pornhub Reveals About Our Sexual Interests

What A Decade Of Data From Pornhub Reveals About Our Sexual Interests

This year, Pornhub celebrated its tenth birthday. To commemorate the occasion, they released some fascinating data on trends in users’ viewing habits. Among other things, over 10 million videos have been posted on the site to date. Also, Pornhub now receives 75 million (!) visitors per day, and the average user spends about 10 minutes there per visit.

You can check out the full report here in all its glory; however, if you’re just after a few highlights and some analysis, keep on reading. Here are some of the things that stood out to me regarding the most popular porn genres on the site.

Read More

Marijuana Smokers Report Having More Sex Than Non-Smokers

Marijuana Smokers Report Having More Sex Than Non-Smokers

What effect does marijuana have on sexual function? Surprisingly little research has addressed this question, and the few studies that exist have produced conflicting results. For example, while survey research has found that many men say marijuana increases their sexual stamina [1], animal studies have found that cannabis seems to inhibit erections in male rodents [2]. So which is it? Does marijuana help or hurt sexual performance? And are the effects similar for men and women?

Read More

How Erotic Dreams Are Connected To Pornography Use And Sexual Behavior

How Erotic Dreams Are Connected To Pornography Use And Sexual Behavior

Most people have had dreams about sex before. However, there’s a lot of variability in the kinds of sex dreams that people have. So where does all of that variation come from? Psychologists believe it’s because our sex dreams are, to some extent, a reflection of our waking sexual interests. In other words, the things that we’re attracted to in our everyday life have a tendency to carry over into our dreams. As some evidence of this, a recent study examined how men’s actual sexual behaviors and the type of porn they watch are related to the content of their sex dreams.

Read More

Video: 7 Scientific Facts About Vaginas And Vulvas

Video: 7 Scientific Facts About Vaginas And Vulvas

In the video below, I've compiled a list of seven interesting facts about vaginas and vulvas--all tastefully displayed against the backdrop of (mostly) fruits and flowers that bear a minor resemblance to these body parts and/or have a reputation for being aphrodisiacs. Enjoy!

Read More

Halloween Is One Of The Least Popular Days To Give Birth

Halloween Is One Of The Least Popular Days To Give Birth

The number of babies born each day naturally fluctuates throughout the year. However, researchers have found that certain days are linked to consistent increases or decreases in the birth rate. Believe it or not, one of the days linked to a reliable drop in births is Halloween.

Read More

Halloween Sex Offender Panic Is Here Again—But It’s Not Making Us Any Safer

Halloween Sex Offender Panic Is Here Again—But It’s Not Making Us Any Safer

Each October, the media runs story after story warning parents about the dangers that sex offenders pose to children on Halloween. All of the panic stoked by these claims has prompted lawmakers across the country to begin passing laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween or that require police officers to check up on sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours. For example, in Tennessee, registered sex offenders must comply with a 6pm – 6am curfew each day from October 21 until November 1, during which time they must stay home but act like they aren’t there. Among other things, they must keep their porch lights off, avoid using decorations, and only answer the door for law enforcement. During this time, police go around the state and perform thousands of random checks to ensure compliance. This massive effort is known officially as “Operation Blackout.”

But is it justified? Is there really such a heightened risk of sex crimes on Halloween that we need to go to such great lengths? Let's take a look at the data.

Read More

Yes, You Can Break Your Penis. And This Is The Most Common Way It Happens

Yes, You Can Break Your Penis. And This Is The Most Common Way It Happens

While erections are sometimes referred to as “boners,” the truth of the matter is that there aren't actually any bones in the human penis. Some animals do have penile bones, though. For instance, male walruses can have penis bones up to two feet in length! In fact, they are so big that they were supposedly once used as war clubs by Native Alaskans--but I digress. Returning to the human penis, you may be surprised to learn that, despite the absence of bones, it's still very much possible to “fracture” an erection. Here's what we know about "broken" penises.

Read More

What Does (And Doesn’t) Predict Divorce, According To Science

What Does (And Doesn’t) Predict Divorce, According To Science

Social scientists have long been interested in the factors that predict divorce. Over the years, they’ve identified a number of things that seem to increase the odds of a couple dissolving their marriage; however, the evidence hasn’t always been consistent across studies, with some effects being more reliable than others. In this article, we'll review some of the most interesting findings from this area of research.

Read More

How Are Rates Of STDs Changing In The US? (Infographic)

How Are Rates Of STDs Changing In The US? (Infographic)

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health concern in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are estimated to be 110 million infections in the U.S. today, with 20 million new infections occurring each year. So what's been happening with STD rates over the last few years? Have they been rising or falling? And is the pattern similar or different across various infections? For a look at the data, check out the infographic below, which includes selected figures complied from the CDC's website.

Read More

Why Kegel Exercises Are Good For Both Women And Men

Why Kegel Exercises Are Good For Both Women And Men

Kegel exercises have been around for a long time. First described by Dr. Arnold Kegel back in the 1940s, they were originally developed as a way to help women experiencing urinary control issues following childbirth. Since then, however, researchers and therapists have discovered that these exercises offer a range of sexual benefits to women and men alike.

Read More

What You Think You Know About Sexual Fetishes Is Probably Wrong

What You Think You Know About Sexual Fetishes Is Probably Wrong

People can develop sexual fetishes for virtually anything. For example, some people are turned on by feeding others or watching them eat, others are turned on by drinking or coming into contact with various bodily fluids (such as breast milk), and yet others are turned on by wearing or using diapers.

I’ve received countless questions about these and other fetishes from readers. In fact, fetishes are one of the more common topics people ask me about. As I’ve listened to all these questions over the years, I’ve noticed that folks seem to hold a lot of pre-conceived notions about fetishists. For example, people largely assume that it's impossible for fetishists to enjoy “normal” (translation: non-fetish) sex and, further, that they're incapable of having healthy relationships. As it turns out, however, these stereotypes just don’t hold up when you look at the research.

Read More

Why More Men In Hollywood Aren’t Speaking Out About Sexual Harassment of Women—And How We Can Change That

Why More Men In Hollywood Aren’t Speaking Out About Sexual Harassment of Women—And How We Can Change That

Dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein have surfaced in the last two weeks (see here for a complete list). These allegations have prompted several celebrities to speak out about the issue. However, many have noticed that the celebrities who have spoken out so far are disproportionately female, which has led many—including writer and director Lena Dunham in a NYT op-ed—to ask why the men of Hollywood have largely been silent.

Many different explanations have been offered. For example, Dunham suggests (among other things) that perhaps men don’t see it as being their problem. Others have argued that it reflects a broader culture of misogyny in Hollywood. While these factors might very well be playing a role, my training as a social psychologist points to a few other possibilities.

Read More

Infographic: Women's Experiences With Orgasm During Vaginal Intercourse

Infographic: Women's Experiences With Orgasm During Vaginal Intercourse

How often do women orgasm during penile-vaginal intercourse? And just how important is clitoral stimulation when it comes to a woman's likelihood of experiencing orgasm during sex? A new paper published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy addresses these questions with data from a nationally representative U.S. sample of women. This study also tells us that, for most women, not all orgasms feel the same and, further, that there are several different factors that have the potential to enhance the quality of women's orgasms. Check out the infographic below for a look at some of the highlights from this study.

Read More

What “Counts” As Sex To Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Adults?

What “Counts” As Sex To Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Adults?

Research has found that there’s a lot of variability when it comes to what people define as “sex.” Perhaps not surprisingly, this means there’s a lot of variability when it comes to how they define “abstinence,” too. This only makes sense because, after all, these things go hand in hand: when people don’t think a certain intimate activity “counts” as having sex, they may consider themselves to be abstinent no matter how many times they’ve done it. For example, a lot of people don’t think oral sex counts, so they may say they’re abstinent despite the fact that it’s something they regularly do.

Though several studies have looked at people’s definitions of sex and abstinence, pretty much all of them to date have focused exclusively on heterosexual persons. This begs the question of how gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults define these terms.

Read More