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
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
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
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
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
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
Fetishes are sexual desires that hinge upon specific objects (like boots or panties), non-sexual body parts (like feet or armpits), or bodily fluids (like urine or breast milk). Though many fetishes strike people as being "strange" or "weird," it's important to note that having a fetish doesn't necessarily mean that one has a psychological disorder. Indeed, fetishes only constitute clinically significant problems to the extent that desire for the fetish object creates persistent personal distress (e.g., interfering with one's ability to establish a desired relationship) or results in harm to others (e.g., when someone resorts to theft in order to obtain their fetish object). What this means is that, contrary to popular belief, most people with fetishes are perfectly psychologically healthy.Read More
Study after study has found that men and women have different age preferences when it comes to choosing both sexual and romantic partners. On average, men seem to prefer partners who are a bit younger while women seem to prefer partners who are a bit older than they are (of course, there's individual variability when it comes to what people want and not all men and women share these preferences). Evolutionary psychologists argue that it's adaptive for most heterosexual men to have a preference for younger women because they're likely to be more fertile; by contrast, they argue that it's adaptive for most women to have a preference for older men, who are likely to have more status and resources. If that's the case, though, then what happens when reproductive concerns are removed from the equation, such as in the case of same-sex relationships?Read More
Compared to generations past, millennials are having less sex. And the post-millennials—or iGen, as social psychologist Jean Twenge has dubbed them—are doing it even less. Much has been said and written about why, but one of the most frequently cited culprits in the popular media is porn, given that no previous generation has had so much unfettered access to pornography of all kinds. In other words, it’s widely believed that adolescents and young adults today are getting it on less often because they’re spending more time viewing online pornography. But is it true?Read More
The penis is a fascinating piece of human anatomy; however, it turns out that most of us don't actually know all that much about it. So, in the video below, I've compiled a list of seven of the most interesting facts about the penis--all tastefully displayed against the backdrop of some very phallic-looking fruits and vegetables. Because why not?Read More
What kinds of genital touch do women find to be most pleasurable? A lot of research has explored this question; however, most of it has suffered from major limitations. For example, almost all of the studies that have emerged thus far have been based on non-representative convenience samples (meaning we don't know how generalizable the results are) and none have delved into very specific kinds of genital stimulation. However, a new paper published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy addresses these limitations, providing us with the most detailed look to date into women's preferred "shapes" and styles of genital touch. Check out the infographic below for some of the highlights from this study.Read More
Does sexual satisfaction change over the course of a long-term romantic relationship and, is so, how? On the one hand, you might think that satisfaction increases as partners learn how to pleasure each other and develop a deeper emotional connection; on the other hand, however, it also seems plausible that satisfaction might decrease as the initial feelings of passion subside.
Previous research on this subject produced conflicting results. Moreover, most studies suffered from major limitations, with perhaps the biggest drawback being a persistent focus on cross-sectional data, as opposed to longitudinal data (translation: previous studies looked at data from a single snapshot in time rather than tracking actual changes in satisfaction over a longer period). On top of all that, most research has been based on non-representative samples of young adults and college students.
Fortunately, a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior addresses these shortcomings and provides a more definitive answer to the question of how sexual satisfaction changes with relationship duration.Read More
Think you know everything there is to know about orgasms? Test your knowledge by watching the video below, which highlights ten of the most fun and interesting scientific facts about the big O.Read More
Communicating early and often about sex is one of the keys to a successful long-term romantic relationship. Indeed, research has consistently found that the more sexual communication couples engage in, the more sexually satisfied they tend to be. However, despite the powerful role that sexual communication plays in our relationships, surprisingly little is known about the way people navigate sexual discussions with their partners.
Studying sexual communication is important because by looking at how people feel about and approach it, we can come to understand why some people avoid sexual communication altogether, but also how struggling couples can facilitate effective communication in their own relationships. Fortunately, a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some valuable insight.Read More
Is it a bad idea to get romantically involved with someone you know has committed infidelity in the past? Common sense tells us that "once a cheater, always a cheater." However, it's dangerous to rely on common sense to understand sex and relationships because research doesn't always back it up and also because different people can hold very different "common sense" beliefs. We need to look instead at what science says about whether past infidelity predicts future infidelity,Read More
A new paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggesting that computers have better “gaydar” than humans made quite a media splash this week. Specifically, this study found that a machine algorithm correctly classified 81% of men and 74% of women as either gay or straight; by contrast, human judges correctly classified just 61% of men and 54% of women in terms of their sexual orientation.
These findings have raised a lot of ethical concerns, with many gay rights groups expressing worry about how such findings could potentially be used for nefarious purposes.Read More
I am pleased to announce the fifth annual SPSP Sexuality Pre-Conference! It will be held next March, just prior to the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Our last four pre-conferences were wildly successful and it is our great pleasure to continue building on this tradition.
The next SPSP Sexuality Pre-Conference will take place on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The theme will be "global and cross-cultural perspectives in human sexuality." All of our invited talks will offer attendees the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research on sexuality and gender issues. In addition, audience members will walk away with a greater understanding of how they might add an international component to their own teaching and research.Read More
A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research reports that when married people start using porn, their odds of getting divorced double. In other words, the results would appear to suggest that porn is inherently destructive to relationships.
Though the findings are provocative and based on longitudinal data from the General Social Survey (which is often a great source of information), I’m just not sold on the conclusion. Here’s why.Read More
I received an email from a reader the other day who read an article chastising a lot of popular magazines and websites for pushing the narrative that we should be having sex more often because it’s good for our health. The point of this article was to say that when sex becomes a utilitarian activity, it takes all the fun out of it—it becomes something we think we need to do instead of something we want to do. The reader asked what I thought about this idea, and my answer is simple: I completely agree. And here’s why.Read More
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. In addition to genital warts, it 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 its associated cancers) has been around for nearly a decade; however, it continues to be widely underutilized in the United States.Read More