About a decade ago, I came across a book entitled The Technology of Orgasm by Rachel Maines. It quickly became one of my favorites on the history of sex because it presented a fascinating and scandalous story behind how the vibrator came to be such a popular device—a story that appeared to be grounded in rigorous academic research. It turns out that there’s a major problem with this story, though: it’s not true.Read More
People have been searching for tools to enhance their sex lives for centuries. Historically, and even today, they have looked to various herbs and foods in the hope of finding an aphrodisiac that will enhance sexual desire, performance, or satisfaction. While many foods and herbs have been touted as aphrodisiacs, however, there hasn’t necessarily been a lot of evidence to back up these claims. And, in some cases, the data suggest that they might not be very effective after all.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what research says about some of the most well-known aphrodisiacs, according to a recent review of the literature published in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews.Read More
It’s not uncommon for guys to experience fertility problems—even guys who are in the prime of their lives. Just consider that some health organizations claim that as many as 1 in 5 young men have a low sperm count.
Male fertility issues have multiple causes, with medical conditions being a major contributor, from genetic anomalies to hormone imbalances to certain sexually transmitted infections.
However, several lifestyle factors are also linked to the quantity and quality of men’s “swimmers.” This is important to highlight because it means that medical intervention isn’t always necessary for guys to improve the health of their sperm.
There are a lot of do-it-yourself tricks that can potentially improve a man’s sexual potency; however, some of the most popular DIY tricks aren't be as effective as previously thought. So which lifestyle changes do (and don’t) enhance sperm quality? Here’s a look at what the research says.Read More
The question of whether there are racial differences in penis size is one that has been notoriously difficult to answer with any degree of scientific certainty. The problem has been that studies of penis size are usually fraught with problems. For one thing, there’s the question of who’s doing the measuring—the participant himself or a trained researcher? The concern, of course, is that guys will be generous when measuring themselves and/or will perform the measurements inconsistently. Then there’s the issue of participant selection effects—are men of a larger size more inclined to participate in such studies? In short (no pun intended), there’s reason to be cautious about drawing sweeping conclusions from the research in this area.
That said, recent studies support the idea that race-based differences in penis size may exist.Read More
In the popular media, it’s easy to find claims of a rising “epidemic” of erectile dysfunction in young men. For example, this article argues that the rate of ED in young men has increased 1000% in the last decade alone—though, problematically, no research is cited to back it up, which makes this a very questionable claim. So what does the science say on this subject? Are erectile difficulties really rising at a dramatic rate in young guys? Let’s take a look.Read More
My social media feed has been blowing up lately with links to article headlines like this one from HuffPost, “Women Want More Sex Than Their Partner Does, According To New Study.” Naturally, as a sex researcher, I was intrigued--I wanted to read the paper and learn more. However, I was disappointed to learn that this wasn’t actually a scientific study and that numerous media outlets were reporting on it like it was legit science. Let's take a closer look at this "study" and what it does and doesn't tell us.Read More
For the last two days, articles about “anal Botox” have been blowing up my Facebook and Twitter feeds, with most of the headlines (like this one from Cosmo) saying something along the lines of “Anal Botox Is A Thing, And Costs Up to $25,000.” To me, the surprising thing about these headlines wasn’t that people were putting Botox in their butts, but what they were supposedly paying for it. Let me explain.Read More
Logically, you might assume that there would be an increase in children being conceived on Valentine’s Day. Given the nature of this holiday and the emphasis on celebrating sex and romance, this would seem to make intuitive sense, right? However, it’s not supported by the data. If it were, we’d see a spike in the birth rate during the month of November, but we don’t—in fact, we actually see one of the lowest birth rates that month.
By contrast, however, there is a consistent spike in the birth rate on Valentine’s Day itself. In other words, the evidence doesn’t point to more babies being conceived on Valentine’s Day, but it does point to more babies being born on it.
Many guys have body image issues and, more often than not, those issues center around penis size--even among men who are perfectly normal in size to begin with. As a result, great demand has developed for techniques and treatments that can enhance penis size, culminating in the emergence of a multi-million dollar penile augmentation industry. There are now numerous 'male enhancement' products on the market, but the one question a lot of guys are asking is this: do any of them actually work?Read More
It’s not uncommon for guys to experience fertility problems—even guys who are in the prime of their lives. In fact, some health organizations have claimed that as many as 1 in 5 young men have a low sperm count.
Male fertility issues have multiple causes. Medical conditions are a major contributor, from genetic anomalies to hormone imbalances to certain sexually transmitted infections.
However, several lifestyle factors are also linked to the quantity and quality of men’s “swimmers.” This is important to highlight because it means that medical intervention isn’t always necessary when guys want to improve the health of their sperm.
Indeed, there are some do-it-yourself tricks that can potentially improve a man’s sexual potency.Read More
Several studies have found that when heterosexual men are around attractive women, they become prone to engaging in risky behaviors and spend their money more freely than usual. For instance, one study reported that when male skateboarders performed in front of a female observer, they attempted more dangerous stunts that increased their likelihood of crashing. Other studies have found that, when primed with photos of sexy women, guys are willing to spend more money on luxury goods (e.g., cars and watches).
Some scientists have argued that there’s an evolutionary reason for these effects: the presence of an attractive women stimulates men’s testosterone levels, thereby leading guys to engage in sexual displays that "demonstrate their value.” In other words, these behaviors are thought to convey a man’s status in such a way that he will attract more female mates.
Although several studies have appeared over the years that would seem to support this theory (often referred to in the literature as “romantic priming”), a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has called this whole phenomenon into question and suggests that previous researchers may have overstated the effects.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
There is a widespread belief that monogamy is inherently safer and healthier than consensual nonmonogamy (which occurs when partners openly agree to have multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships simultaneously). Indeed, it would only seem intuitive to think that people who have agreed to be monogamous would have a much lower risk (or perhaps no risk at all) of contracting any kind of sexually transmitted infection (STI), while those who are consensually nonmonogamous (and who are therefore having more sexual partners) would be at significantly higher risk. Research has found that this isn't necessarily the case, though.Read More
In the last few years, a growing media panic has emerged about the dangers of pornography. Much of this has centered around the concepts of "pornography addiction" and "porn-induced erectile dysfunction." However, a fair amount has focused on how porn supposedly affects the way that men view and treat women, with some claiming that porn is a major contributor to misogyny and sexual violence. So what does the research say? Is there really a link between pornography consumption and hatred of women?Read More
Millennials are often referred to as "the hookup generation," with popular media portrayals characterizing them as constantly jumping from one hook-up to the next and rejecting traditional notions of dating and marriage. In stark contrast to these depictions, however, scientific research on millennials' sexual attitudes and behaviors paints a very different picture. Compared to generations past, millennials aren't having as much sex as you think. Also, it turns out that millennials actually hold fairly conflicted views on the morality of hooking-up. For a closer look at the research in this area, check out my latest article over at Playboy.Read More
Although casual sex is something that most Americans have done before, it is a sexual activity that continues to be viewed in a largely negative light. For instance, casual sex is frequently portrayed in the popular media as risky and as a "lesser" form of sex. But is this negative reputation deserved? In this TEDx talk, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova explores what the science on casual sex has revealed, including its potential benefits and risks, men's and women's most common psychological reactions to it, and how experiences with casual sex are linked to our long-term relationship outcomes. Dr. Vrangalova's nuanced analysis reveals that casual sex can affect different people in very different ways, which means that casual sex isn't inherently a good or bad thing. Indeed, who you are, how you're doing it, and why you're doing it are critical to understanding the effects of casual sex. Check out the video below to learn more.Read More
The concept of “pornography addiction” is one that has generated a lot of debate in the popular media. Although pretty much everyone seems to agree that there are indeed some people out there who are distressed about their porn use, there has been much controversy about whether it is appropriate to apply the “addiction” label in such cases. A new study published in Biological Psychology provides provocative evidence in favor of dropping the addiction label because what’s going on inside the brains of so-called porn “addicts” is nothing like what you would expect from someone who has an addiction.Read More
BDSM (which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism) is a widely misunderstood set of sexual practices. There are a lot of myths and stereotypes out there about both the people who are into BDSM, as well as what it is that they do sexually. Unfortunately, popular media depictions of BDSM (e.g., Fifty Shades of Grey) have only served to reinforce many of these misconceptions. In light of this, here's what you really need to know about BDSM according to the science.Read More
My home state of Indiana has been in the news a lot lately, and most of the news coverage has portrayed it in a pretty unflattering light. This is due almost entirely to the actions of our elected officials, who appear to be out of touch with the views of everyday Hoosiers and with the scientific community on matters of sexuality and sexual health. Much has been said and written in recent weeks about passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the concern that its original wording was intended to license discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons. This is a prime example of how the State government’s actions are out of step with the public, who overwhelmingly oppose discrimination against sexual minorities. Our elected officials’ disregard for science has not generated quite the same level of national attention as the RFRA law, but it is nonetheless just as concerning. In this article, I would like to take a look at the disconnect between our State government’s actions and the science, and consider its potential impact on the sexual health of Indiana residents.Read More
Pornography has been blamed for a number of problems over the years. Among the many claims leveled against porn is that it causes divorce and sexual violence (neither of which is true, by the way). Another claim that has becoming increasingly common is that porn causes sexual difficulties, including erectile dysfunction in men. But is this really true? Is porn really impairing men’s sexual functioning? Despite how often this claim is made, there has been surprisingly little research to date that can speak to it one way or another. However, a new study just published in Sexual Medicine suggests that this claim, like so many of the others directed at porn, is not supported by the science.Read More