Fact Check: Can Spraying Yourself With Oxytocin Help You Get Laid?

Fact Check: Can Spraying Yourself With Oxytocin Help You Get Laid?

The hormone oxytocin is often referred to in the popular media as the “love hormone” or “cuddle drug” because research has shown that it plays an important role in human bonding. For instance, experimental studies have demonstrated that participants are more trusting of other people during social interactions after being given a nasal spray with oxytocin compared to a placebo [1]. In an attempt to capitalize on this and other such discoveries, several companies have started selling oxytocin-based products that are advertised to have a wide range of applications, from giving you an edge in the world of business to having more or better sex. The basic premise is that if you can enhance oxytocin levels in the people around you, they will develop more trust in you, thereby allowing you to get what you want sexually or otherwise. But do these products really work as promised?

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The Psychology of Human Sexuality Is Now In Print!

The Psychology of Human Sexuality Is Now In Print!

I have been teaching college level human sexuality courses for nearly a decade. However, during all of that time, I could never find the right textbook. Certainly, there are a lot of fantastic sex books out there written by superstars in the field, but they just don’t offer the perspective that I take in my class. Most of them are very clinical and/or biological in nature, which just isn’t the best match for the way I approach this subject. As someone who teaches in a psychology department, I want a book that really demonstrates the psychological importance of sex and that delves into psychological theory. 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.

I began working on this book three years ago, and I pleased to say that it is now officially in print! The end result is a 424-page text entitled The Psychology of Human Sexuality. In a nutshell, this book provides a comprehensive overview of human sexual behavior from a biopsychosocial perspective. What this means is that while I put psychology front and center throughout, I also acknowledge and consider biological, evolutionary, and socio-cultural factors that influence our sexuality. 

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Sex Question Friday: Why Do So Many Guys Like To Give “Facials?”

Sex Question Friday: Why Do So Many Guys Like To Give “Facials?”

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question centers around the rather controversial topic of facials—and I don’t mean the kind that you get at the spa, but rather the kind that often appear toward the end of porn videos in which a man ejaculates on his partner’s face.

“Why do guys like to finish on their girlfriends’ faces?”

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Why Do Men Have Nipples? (VIDEO)

Why Do Men Have Nipples? (VIDEO)

As part of my Human Sexuality course, I teach about sexual anatomy in both biological females and males. During my anatomy lecture, it is not uncommon for students to ask about the significance of the male nipple. If it doesn't appear to serve any biological or reproductive function, then why is it there? The answer is that during the initial stages of gestation, our bodies all begin developing toward the female form, regardless of which chromosomes we have. This creates the basis for a lot of common structures in the male and female body, including the presence of nipples. It is not until later in development that the male and female bodies begin to differentiate physically and functionally, but by that point, the nipples have already become a permanent structure. For more on the science behind this, check out the short video below.

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The Science of “Beer Goggles”: Is Beauty In The Eye Of The Beer Holder?

The Science of “Beer Goggles”: Is Beauty In The Eye Of The Beer Holder?

According to the Urban Dictionary, the term beer goggles is defined as the “phenomenon in which one's consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons appear beautiful.” In recent years, much has been said and written about beer goggles in the popular media (including the so-bad-it’s-good country song “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On”), but just how much truth is there to this idea? Does alcohol consumption really change our perceptions of attractiveness that much? Let's see what the science has to say.

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Sex Question Friday: Can A Woman Become Sexually Dependent On Her Vibrator?

Sex Question Friday: Can A Woman Become Sexually Dependent On Her Vibrator?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know whether women who use vibrators regularly during masturbation can become “dependent” upon sex toys to reach orgasm:

“Do you know of any research or have an opinion about routinely using a vibrator during masturbation? I'm worried that I'll become too dependent on my vibrator and I'm seeing that I'm having a harder time orgasming during sex with my husband. Is there any guidance or suggestions about breaking up the routine of vibrator use during masturbation? Lately I use a vibrator every time. I have a very hard time climaxing without some sort of external stimulation during masturbation. If not a vibrator, I usually have to read an erotic story or watch a sexy video.  Should I try some days with just reading an erotic story and no vibrator? Does it even matter?”

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Why Do Men Have More Unusual Sexual Interests Than Women?

Why Do Men Have More Unusual Sexual Interests Than Women?

The term “paraphilia” literally means “beyond typical love.” As a result, it has become the word of choice among psychologists to describe a wide range of unusual sexual interests. However, it is important to note that just because someone has a paraphilia, it does not necessarily mean that they have a psychological disorder. Paraphilias are generally only regarded as clinically significant to the extent that they are distressing to the individual or cause harm to others.

Numerous clinicians have concluded that paraphilias are more common among men than they are among women, largely because it is rare for women to visit psychiatrists and psychologists for problems associated with unusual sexual interests. However, there has been very little research to date on paraphilias outside of clinical contexts that shed light on the nature of this sex difference. As a result, it is unclear if men in general open to more unusual sexual interests and, if so, why. A new study published in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment sought to provide the answer.

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Are Religiously Motivated People Able To Change Their Sexual Orientation?

Are Religiously Motivated People Able To Change Their Sexual Orientation?

Historically and even today, many religious groups and organizations have promoted the view that any sexual activity outside the context of heterosexual marriage is immoral and harmful. One of the most vocal such groups in recent years has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS or Mormon). Not only have they spoken out against masturbation (e.g., consider this recent PSA likening a guy who doesn’t stop his college roommate from masturbating to leaving a wounded soldier on the battlefield), but they have also repeatedly communicated their belief that homosexuality is wrong (e.g., consider that they were one of the biggest financial backers of California’s 2008 same-sex marriage ban, Prop 8). In light of their views, it is perhaps not surprising that the LDS church has also been a big proponent of the idea that sexual orientation change is possible, and they have encouraged gay, lesbian, and bisexual members to seek treatment designed to alter their sexuality. So what happens to LDS church members who follow these directives to “convert” their sexual orientation? Are religiously motivated individuals able to successfully eliminate their feelings of attraction to members of the same sex?

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The Incredible Science Behind Animal Sex (Video)

The Incredible Science Behind Animal Sex (Video)

“The diversity that we see in sexual structures in the animal kingdom that has evolved in response to the multitude of factors surrounding reproduction is pretty mind-blowing.” – Carin Bondar

In what is perhaps my new favorite TED video, biologist Carin Bondar describes the science behind how animals get it on. She details the importance of not just looking at the form of animals’ sexual anatomy, but also how their reproductive structures function, because both form an function have major implications not just for how sex happens, but  for how societies evolve.

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Heterosexual Women Are More “Flirty” When They’re Ovulating, But Only With Bad Boys

Heterosexual Women Are More “Flirty” When They’re Ovulating, But Only With Bad Boys

Research has found that heterosexual men seem to be able to detect when women are ovulating and this, in turn, appears to have implications for guys’ behavior. For instance, one study found that male visitors to a gentlemen’s club gave the biggest tips to female lap dancers when those dancers were ovulating [1]. Why is that? One possibility is that ovulating women are releasing pheromones that unconsciously change the way that men act around them. But another possibility is that ovulation changes women’s behavior, which ultimately leads men to treat them differently. A new study published in Psychological Science provides some support for the latter explanation by suggesting that women are "flirtier" when they're ovulating--but only with certain types of guys.

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Economics Of The Sex Trade In 8 Major U.S. Cities (Infographic)

Economics Of The Sex Trade In 8 Major U.S. Cities (Infographic)

With the exception of a few counties in Nevada, prostitution is illegal throughout the  United States. Given that sex work is something that largely exists in the shadows, next to nothing is known about the full size and scope of this industry. However, a new study just released by the Urban Institute sheds some light on the just how much money is exchanged for sex in the U.S. Every year, and I think the results will surprise you. The infographic below highlights some of the key findings from this study; however, you can find the complete set of results here.

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Free Birth Control Doesn’t Make Women Promiscuous

Free Birth Control Doesn’t Make Women Promiscuous

For years, we have heard claims on many political talk and news shows that reducing birth control costs and/or making contraception more widely available will increase female promiscuity. For example, remember when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” after Fluke testified in a Congressional hearing about why we need to increase contraceptive access for women? Or how about the parade of horribles we’ve heard time and again from “experts” on Fox News about what will happen if birth control becomes more freely available? Case in point, consider this quote by Sandy Rios, Vice President of the Family PAC Federal, during a 2011 interview:

“Why in the world would you encourage your daughters, and your granddaughters, and whoever else comes behind you to have unrestricted, unlimited sex anytime, anywhere and that, somehow if you prevent pregnancy, that somehow you’ve helped them. I would submit to you that uncontrolled sexual behavior is what is harming our girls, not our lack of birth control.”

So is there any truth to what has been said? Will increasing access to contraception actually "encourage" women to have "unlimited" sexual partners and/or engage in riskier sexual behavior? According to a new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the answer is a resounding no.

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Same-Sex Marriage Is Formally Banned In More Parts Of The U.S. Than Necrophilia

Same-Sex Marriage Is Formally Banned In More Parts Of The U.S. Than Necrophilia

Necrophilia (i.e., sexual attraction to corpses) is a prospect that makes most people uncomfortable. As a result, acting on necrophilic urges is something that I'm guessing most people would assume is prohibited by law in the United States. As it turns out, however, necrophilia is a topic on which most state legal codes are silent. In fact, as hard as this may be to believe, there is less legal regulation of necrophilia in the U.S. than there is of same-sex marriage! For example, consider that in 2013, Illinois became just the 23rd state to formally ban necrophilia! Check out the infographic below for the rest of the details. It would seem that our legislators are more riled up about the prospect of their citizens committing to a loving relationship with a partner of the same sex than they are about people jumping the bones of the dead.

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Sex Question Friday: Can A Man Be Allergic To His Own Semen?

Sex Question Friday: Can A Man Be Allergic To His Own Semen?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. A few weeks ago, I answered a question from a reader about whether it is possible for a woman to be allergic to a man's semen, which led someone to send in this follow-up question:

Can a man be allergic to his own semen?

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When Do Women Orgasm During A Hookup? (Infographic)

When Do Women Orgasm During A Hookup? (Infographic)

During a sexual hookup, men pretty consistently reach orgasm, whereas women are far less likely to do so. This so-called "orgasm gap" has become the subject of a growing amount of research attention. To date, several factors have been linked to increased odds of female orgasm during a heterosexual hookup: how much previous sexual experience she has with that particular partner, how she feels about him, and what specific sexual activities they practiced. Check out the infographic below for the details.

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Can Men Have Multiple Orgasms Too?

Can Men Have Multiple Orgasms Too?

Scientists have long known that women sometimes experience multiple orgasms. Indeed, in their 1966 book entitled Human Sexual Response, William Masters and Virginia Johnson noted that:

“The human female frequently is not content with one orgasmic experience during episodes of [clitoral stimulation]…Many well-adjusted women enjoy a minimum of three of four orgasmic experiences before they reach apparent satiation.” (p. 64)

Of course, this is not necessarily true for all women. Some studies have found that close to half of the women surveyed have experienced multiple orgasms previously; the other half may not be physically capable of this, or they may not have tried to experience (or do not want to experience) more than one orgasm in a row. But what about men? Is it possible for guys to have multiple orgasms too?

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Sex Question Friday: How Does Female-To-Male Sex Reassignment Surgery Work?

Sex Question Friday: How Does Female-To-Male Sex Reassignment Surgery Work?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know the following:

For female-to-male transsexual individuals, is it possible to construct a fully sexually-functional penis? Is it possible for them to get erections? That seems like a really difficult medical procedure.

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How Is Michigan Defending Its Gay Marriage Ban? With Pseudoscience Aplenty

How Is Michigan Defending Its Gay Marriage Ban? With Pseudoscience Aplenty

There are currently more than two dozen legal challenges to gaymarriage bans working their way through the U.S. court system. In several of those cases, state attorneys have refused to defend such bans on grounds that they represent discrimination. In cases where attorneys have continued to defend these bans, not only has the credibility of the witnesses become more questionable, but the arguments against same-sex marriage have become more tenuous. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Michigan these past few days. First, in an embarrassing blow to the Attorney General's case,it was revealed on Monday that the state’s first witness had been barred from testifying because he was a graduate student and therefore not an expert with the necessary credentials and experience to contribute to the case. So who else does Michigan have lined up to defend the ban? The most high profile remaining witness is Mark Regnerus, a sociologist from the University of Texas at Austin. Regnerus’ claim to fame is a poorly executed 2012 study previously covered on this blog that essentially concluded that same-sex couples make inept parents. However, Regnerus’ methods and conclusions were so questionable that his own academic department recently put out the following statement distancing itself from him:

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A Scientist’s Response To The “War On Masturbation”

A Scientist’s Response To The “War On Masturbation”

In the not-too-distant past, masturbation was routinely denounced as an activity that not only damages your health, but also your soul. Physicians and priests would warn people about the dangers of this so-called form of “self-abuse,” which included everything from blindness, to insanity, to eternal damnation. They also went to great lengths to prevent people from touching themselves. For example, masturbators might have their hands tied together at night or be forced to wear a chastity belt of sorts to prevent contact with their genitals. Some "experts" at the time also recommended that boys who were frequently caught masturbating be circumcised without anesthesia, while masturbating girls should have carbolic acid applied to the clitoris. Yes, masturbation was deemed so awful that it was worth cutting or burning your child’s genitals in order to stop it.

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