In countries ravaged by HIV where access to contraceptives and barriers is limited, it is not uncommon for donor agencies from around the world to come in and flood the market with free or low-cost condoms. However, it turns out that simply making these condoms available is no guarantee that people will actually use them; rather, the condoms also need to be marketed effectively to the people who will actually be using them. This means that donor agencies can't simply assume that the same marketing strategies that work in their home country will work elsewhere. In the brief video below, Amy Lockwood highlights the importance of condom-marketing strategies by looking at the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Read More
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:
“Is there any good data on how often married people have sex, on average, at different ages, or at different stages of their marriage? Or how often, for example, on average, married people in the 40s have sex? I am sure there is an immense range of variation here, but it would help to have some kind of reference point, at least, for gauging where in the spectrum one's own experiences lie. And I think this must be a fairly urgent question for a fairly large number of people, especially in marriages where there is a significant desire gap between the two partners.”Read More
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is an organization that works to enhance the sexual and reproductive health of women and young people all around the world. One of the ways they do this is by helping to ensure that government and non-government organizations in low- and middle-income countries have access to safe, reliable, and cost-effective contraceptives, including condoms. However, it may surprise you to learn all of the steps that goes into ensuring the safety and reliability of the contraceptives that become part of the UNFPA program. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the process for condoms in particular. I guarantee that you'll have a much greater appreciation for the work that the UNFPA does and the respect and concern it shows for the people it serves.Read More
A new study claiming to demonstrate bias in how college students evaluate female instructors has been making a lot of waves in the media recently. The study, published in the journal Innovative Higher Education, found that students in an online course gave lower ratings to instructors who were presented as female compared to those who were presented as male. In response, Slate ran an article entitled “Best Way For Professors To Get Good Student Evaluations? Be Male,” in which they called the results of this study “astonishing” and concluded that “men still get bonus points for showing up male.” Likewise, Jezebel ran an article entitled “Students Give Male Instructors Better Evaluations, Says Science,” in which they claimed that this study demonstrates that “college students are naturally biased against female instructors.” But are college students in general really so hostile to the idea of being taught by women? Looking across all of the science out there on this topic, you’ll find that the story is much more complicated than these media reports let on.Read More
It’s that time of year when people start hunting for the perfect holiday gift for their significant other. Despite all of the effort and thought that goes into this process, many people will end up buying expensive material objects that provide only temporary happiness, are quickly forgotten, and end up collecting dust somewhere. You can avoid this outcome--and potentially improve your relationship at the same time--by giving your partner something much more personal this year: touch.Read More
A number of research studies have emerged in the last few years reporting a link between sexting and sexual behavior among teenagers. However, the inherent weakness of this body of research is that most of these studies involved surveying teens at one point in time and asking about both sexting and sexual behavior, which makes it impossible to know which one came first. That is, does sexting increase the odds of future sexual activity, or is it just the case that being sexually active predisposes teens to sexting? A new study published in the journal Pediatrics provides our first clue to this “chicken and egg” question by analyzing data from a longitudinal study of teen sexting.Read More
A new set of studies just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that when we are on the verge of entering a new decade in our chronological age (i.e., when we are ages 39, 49, 59, etc.), it prompts us to reflect upon the meaningfulness of our lives. This search for meaning leads some to the happy conclusion that their lives do indeed have meaning. For others, however, it leads to despair because they conclude that their lives lack meaning (which some might call a "midlife crisis"). In the latter situation, people can respond to this in one of two ways. Some will react in an adaptive fashion by pursuing behaviors that ultimately give their lives meaning or provide a sense of accomplishment, while others will respond in ways that are counterproductive and may hurt their chances of finding meaning. Of particular relevance to readers of this blog is the finding that one of those maladaptive coping mechanisms appears to be seeking out an affair.Read More
There are a lot of great TED talks out there about sex, but one of my personal favorites is Dr. Debby Herbenick’s presentation on “Making Sex Normal.” It was first released last year and it remains a must-watch for anyone who hasn’t already seen it. Even if you’ve already watched it, though, I would encourage you to check it out again. In her talk, Dr. Herbenick reminds us of the important consequences of living in a society where sex is viewed negatively and not openly discussed, and she offers a number of great practical suggestions for changing that. However, we all need to do our part and we can’t just think of this as a one-time thing. Making sex normal requires an ongoing commitment. Check out the video below, then share how you make sex normal here.Read More
Some scientists have argued that kissing is an evolutionarily adaptive behavior. Their hypothesis is that, because kissing provides a mechanism for sharing certain types of bacteria and viruses, it could therefore potentially offer certain benefits, such as providing a form of immunization against viruses that might be harmful to a developing fetus (see here for more on this idea). However, there really hasn’t been any research on the biology of kissing that can speak to whether or not there is anything to back up this idea—until now. A new study just published in the journal Microbiome reveals that passionate kissing may fundamentally alter the composition of the microorganisms that colonize the insides of our mouths.Read More
Some of my colleagues and I have published a series of studies on friends with benefits (FWBs) over the last few years, which I have written about before on the blog (see here and here). Among the many things we have found in our research is that people get into these relationships for a range of reasons and, as a result, sometimes have wildly different expectations for what they hope will happen to their FWB in the future. For instance, some people hope that their FWB will become a romantic partner, others hope to go back to being "just friends," whereas some simply want to remain FWBs for as long as possible. These findings led us to wonder what ultimately happens to FWBs over time and how likely it is that different relationship transitions will occur. We recently completed a one-year longitudinal study of FWBs that we presented at the November 2014 meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Below, I will summarize some of the key results from this research.Read More
The 2014 holiday shopping season is officially underway and I know that many of you will soon be racking your brains as you try to come up with gift ideas for the sexy people in your life. So let me make your job a little easier this year by sharing a list of sex-themed gift ideas for everyone on your list from lovers, to friends, to lucky strangers in a White Elephant or Naughty Santa gift exchangeRead More
This Thanksgiving, when you think about all of the things you are thankful for, don't forget about sex! Research has found that sex is linked to numerous benefits for both the mind and body. In this post, I will highlight just 6 of them, but there are many, many others!
1. Studies have found that frequent orgasms, whether from masturbation or sex, are associated with better physical and psychological health. Not only that, but orgasms can also relieve symptoms of nasal congestion—a handy tip for navigating the cold and flu season.Read More
Pubic hair removal has been the subject of a growing amount of research attention; however, surprisingly little work in this area has addressed the question of how men and women are similar or different when it comes to their pubic hair removal practices and preferences. How many people do it, why, what (if any) side effects are there, and how much pubic hair do they prefer on their sexual partners? A new study just published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine takes a look at these and other questions in a sample of college undergraduates. Check out the infographic below for a few of the key findings.Read More
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 more about the topic of menopause:
“Are humans the only species in which the females experience menopause? Why does menopause exist?”
Thanks for these great questions! As it turns out, human females are not unique in having what some scientists term a “post-reproductive lifespan” (or PRLS for short). In fact, studies have found that many primate and non-primate species show evidence of a PRLS .Read More
Sexual fantasies about bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) have long been deemed to be "unusual" or "deviant." But are they really all that rare? A new study just published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that BDSM fantasies are probably more common than previously thought. Check out the infographic below for a look at the numbers. Keep in mind that this sample is not representative, so you should not necessarily assume that these numbers reflect BDSM interest more broadly--however, they do suggest that BDSM is probably far from an "unusual" fantasy.
What do you fantasize about? Tell us about it and take part in the largest and most comprehensive study of sexual fantasies ever by clicking here.Read More
A woman of reproductive age has the potential to become pregnant from vaginal intercourse regardless of whether she experiences an orgasm. This fact has prompted an ongoing debate about the purpose of the female orgasm. If it is not essential to reproduction, then why does it occur? Numerous theories exist. To name a few, some have argued that the female orgasm is a “sperm retention mechanism," while others have claimed that it has no purpose and is just a “fantastic bonus.” One additional theory that has received an increasing amount of research attention is that perhaps orgasms serve as a feedback mechanism that provides women with information about the reproductive potential and quality of their partners. A new study just published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology provides some support for this ideaRead More
In this TEDx talk, Dr. Terri Orbuch describes the science behind lust and love. Research shows that these are completely distinct experiences and, as Orbuch explains, there are actually four specific signs that you can use to tell them apart. In addition to detailing the physiology and psychology behind lust and love, Orbuch offers research-based advice on ways of recreating lust for long-term, loving couples. This is a must-watch video for anyone interested in learning more about the science of relationships. Happy viewing!Read More
Believe it or not, human beings have been making and using condoms for thousands of years. Despite how long they’ve been around, condoms remain imperfect and continue to be misused. Below, we will take a look at what condoms used to be like, how they are viewed and utilized today, and where condoms are headed in the future.
1.) In the not-too-distant past, animal intestines were the most popular material used for making condoms. Some condoms are still made from this today (e.g., Naturalamb), but they have largely fallen out of favor because they are costlier to produce than contemporary materials, such as latex, which is what most condoms today are made from. Also, while they may be effective at preventing pregnancy, animal membranes are too porous to serve as an effective barrier to most sexually transmitted infections. Learn more about the fascinating history of condoms by watching this video.Read More
Imagine that someone you aren’t attracted to approaches you for a date. How would you respond? I bet most of you said that you would decline the offer and move on, right? Although that may be how you think you would react in this situation, a new set of studies just published in Psychological Sciences suggests that some of you would have a harder time saying no than you might expect.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people's questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week's question comes from a female reader who wanted to know the following:
"Everyone talks about practicing safe sex and I do, but how safe am I when I'm using condoms and is there anything else I should be doing?"
Thanks for this great question! Condoms can indeed be very effective at preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when used properly; however, studies suggest that people overestimate how effective condoms are in practice . This means that when you're practicing "safe sex," you may not be quite as safe as you think.Read More