There's a scene in the movie Mean Girls in which high school health teacher Coach Carr gives his students a lesson in sex education: "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant...and die!" As much as I wish I could say Coach Carr's class bears no resemblance to how we teach kids about sex in the real world, the sad truth of the matter is that this is the primary message many educators are sending out. When it comes to sex, be afraid. Be very afraid.Read More
There's no denying it now--the 2015 holiday shopping season is officially underway! I know many of you are in need of gift ideas for the sexy people in your life, so let me make things easy for you by sharing my updated annual list of sex-themed gift ideas (mostly) inspired by science for everyone on your list, from lovers, to friends, to lucky strangers in a White Elephant or Naughty Santa gift exchange.Read More
For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this week, don't forget to be thankful for sex! Scientists have discovered that sex is linked a wide range of benefits for both body and mind. Below, I highlight just 7 of them; however, there are many, many more...
1. Studies have found that frequent orgasms are associated with better physical and psychological health. As if that's not enough, research has also found that frequent orgasms are linked to a longer lifespan !Read More
The results of Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey reveal that Americans’ views on sexual morality continue to shift in major ways, with particularly notable changes in the perceived acceptability of same-sex behavior, sex before marriage, and having children outside of marriage. At the same time, however, attitudes toward issues such as abortion and affairs have remained largely the same. Check out the table below for details on the specific changes in moral attitudes that have taken place since 2001.Read More
A reader submitted the following question:
"I know there aren't any bones in the penis, but can you still break it, like if you bend it too much when you're erect?"
Thanks for this interesting question. To put it simply, the answer is yes. The technical term for this is “penile fracture” and it occurs when the cavernous bodies (i.e., the columns of erectile tissue that run the length of the penis and fill with blood during an erection) rupture as a result of some blunt force trauma. For instance, one of the most frequent causes of a fractured erection is forceful sexual intercourse in which a man misses his target and hits his partner’s pubic bone or perineum instead.Read More
Sex education is incredibly inconsistent throughout the United States. Some states require it, others don't. And in the states that mandate it, the information teachers are required by law to provide doesn't necessarily have to be useful, let alone correct. The fact of the matter is that American sex education is in poor shape and this is a big part of the reason why our teen pregnancy and STI rates are among the highest in the industrialized world. Check out the infographic below for a look at some frightening statistics about the current state of sex education in the U.S.Read More
A lot of guys are worried that they aren't quite big enough when it comes to their penises. As a result, an increasing number of men are turning to pills, creams, pumps, and (sometimes) expensive surgeries in an attempt to increase their size, despite a lack of scientific evidence that any of these products and procedures are safe or effective. At least for straight guys, a lot of this penis anxiety is driven by the perception that women are supposedly clamoring for large penises, or that large penises bring women more pleasure. So what's the deal here? Is all of this obsession that men have about their size really warranted?Read More
A reader submitted the following question:
“I'm a married guy in my mid-40s. I'm happily married and travel a lot for work. Since my teens I've been an avid masturbator. I sort of thought I'd stop after getting married and I did for a little while. However now I bate pretty much every day that I'm not home and even sometimes when I'm home. I also enjoy straight, bi, and gay porn while bating. I'm wondering if either or both of these things are common for married guys. I sometimes feel like a bit of a freak and like I'm very unusual in these preferences/habits. And, of course, if you were wondering, my wife has no idea because I know she would freak out about both. Am I the exception or are there more guys like me out there?”
Thanks for this very interesting question. Let me address it in two parts. First, let’s consider whether it’s common for married guys to masturbate. The answer to that is easy: yes. A million times, yes.Read More
Among married people in the United States, studies have consistently found that somewhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 folks say they have cheated before--and that's just the ones who are willing to admit it! This high prevalence of infidelity has led many scientists to wonder what's behind it. That is, why do so many people cheat? It turns out that the answer is complicated. There are numerous factors--biological, psychological, and social--that might predispose someone to committing infidelity.Read More
Evolutionary psychologists argue that men and women have evolved different jealousy patterns. They claim that men are more worried about their partners becoming sexually unfaithful, while women are more concerned about their partners becoming emotionally unfaithful. The rationale behind this is that men don't want to get stuck raising kids that aren't their own, while women want to ensure that the father of their children sticks around and provides for them. Many studies have provided support for this theory, indicating that men are more jealous about the prospect of their partner having sex with someone else, while women are more jealous about the thought of their partner establishing other intimate relationships .
But what about non-heterosexuals? What happens when reproductive concerns don't factor into the equation? Research has revealed that both gay men and lesbians are typically more concerned with emotional infidelity than sexual infidelity--in other words, the pattern doesn't really change for lesbians, but it does for gay men . Given these findings, could it be that bisexual men show different jealousy patterns based upon the sex of the person they’re dating?Read More
The birth control pill is something that a lot of us take for granted today. It has never been more widely available or easier to access (in fact, more than 10 million women in the US are currently using it). It has never been more versatile either--dozens of different formulations of the pill have been created, thereby allowing it to meet the needs of a wide range of women. Those needs include pregnancy control and prevention, menstrual cycle regulation, and (for some) acne control. Have you ever stopped to wonder where this miracle of modern medicine came from, though?Read More
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that has the potential to cause a wide range of cancers, including cancers of the cervix, anus, and throat. A vaccine that can prevent HPV (and, consequently, its associated cancers) has been around for nearly a decade; however, it continues to be widely underutilized. For instance, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among teens aged 13-17, just 39.7% of girls and 21.6% of boys had received all three of the recommended doses of this vaccine in 2014. This is far lower than the rate of other recommended immunizations for people in this age group.Read More
Despite how much scientific research is out there on the topic of pornography, surprisingly little of it has looked at what types of porn people are watching. Most research involves simply asking participants whether or how often they use porn, without giving any consideration to theme or genre. As a result, we don't know all that much about which kinds of porn are more or less popular and how that might be similar or different based on people's gender and sexual orientation.Read More
For this week’s edition of Sex Question Friday, I’ve put together an updated list of the ten most read Q&A posts of all time from this site. These questions (all submitted by readers of Sex and Psychology) span quite a range of topics, but most are united by this theme: “What’s normal when it comes to sex?” What you'll see from the answers is that “normal” does not mean just one thing!
10. How many men and women shave their pubic hair? (Survey research finds that most men and women say they've done it at least once before--but people do it in different ways, with different frequencies, and for very different reasons. Just be careful if you do it because emergency room visits for pubic hair grooming injuries are more common than you might think!)Read More
In this fascinating and humorous TED talk, evolutionary biologist Dr. Marlene Zuk offers a look into the sexual practices of a wide range of insects, from dragonflies to honey bees to kadydids to ants. Zuk reveals that insects break many of the rules we think we know about male and female mating practices. In fact, this video will undoubtedly lead many views to question some of their most fundamental ideas and assumptions about what's "normal" and "natural" when it comes to sex and mating.Read More
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, it has become tradition for the media to run article after article warning parents that sex offenders may use the holiday as a means of sexually exploiting children. This has created such a panic that lawmakers across the country have even begun to pass laws restricting the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween, or that require police officers to check up on them during Trick or Treat hours. Are such laws truly necessary, though? Is there really an increased risk of sex crimes on Halloween in the first place? Let's take a look at the data.Read More
Most scientific research on attraction and mating preferences has focused on what we desire in a romantic or sexual partner. But what about the things that completely turn us off--the relationship "dealbreakers," if you will--what traits and characteristics are we motivated to avoid? And how do the number and nature of relationship dealbreakers differ across the sexes? For a look at the answer, check out the infographic below.Read More
Open relationships are widely believed to be more common in the gay community than they are in the rest of the population—and scientific research seems to back this up. For instance, whereas online studies put the prevalence of consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships at around 5% overall, the prevalence of CNM among gay male couples tends to be much higher (depending upon the study you consult, estimates have ranged from 20-56% ). However, this seemingly greater interest in CNM is something that most people (including the researchers) appear to consider unique to sexual minority men. Lesbians are widely thought to have greater interest in monogamy. But is this really the case? A new study challenges the idea that sexual minority women are inherently less interested in the idea of open relationships.Read More
When it comes to pornography, many have argued that we have a tendency to imitate the sexual behaviors that we observe on screen. In other words, we take a "monkey see, monkey do" approach to porn. This belief has led to widespread concern that viewers might mimic the risky sexual acts that they see porn stars doing (e.g., having unprotected sex with multiple partners), thereby creating a public health risk. However, is this concern really warranted?Read More
How much do you know about masturbation? Here’s a look at some of the main things scientists have learned over the years from studying self-love, including who does it, why they do it, how they do it, and what physical and psychological effects it has on us.Read More