How Important Is It To Have Sex Before Marriage?

In a recent piece on Salon entitled “My Virginity Mistake,” author Jessica Ciencin Henriquez talks about how an abstinence pledge ruined her marriage. In her words: “Without having sex before marriage, I blindly walked up an aisle and committed myself to a man who didn’t know me and gave my long-held virginity to someone with whom I had no more chemistry than a second cousin.” The crux of her piece is that sex is too important to a relationship to save it for the wedding night and that couples need to establish sexual compatibility before tying the knot. In light of this article, I thought it would be worth taking a look at what the science has to say on this topic. Does your sexual satisfaction and chance of relationship success really depend upon when you start having sex?
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The Media’s Tales Of A Deadly New “Sex Superbug” Are Greatly Exaggerated

The Internet exploded today with stories about an incredibly dangerous “sex superbug” at our doorstep. Some of the more provocative headlines included “Sex superbug could be ‘worse than AIDS’” (CNBC) and “New sex superbug could be global killer, doctors warn” (The Sun). All of these stories went on to talk about a very aggressive strain of gonorrhea known as HO41 that is resistant to all known antibiotics (and, no, I don’t know whether scientists were trying to be funny when they named this STI “ho-41”). Moreover, the stories talked about how the infection is spread quickly and easily and can lead to death “in a matter of days.” Time for a global panic, right? Hold your horses, because in the rush to report this news quickly, a number of journalists failed to check their facts.
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Sexual Desire Discrepancies Are A Relationship Problem, Not A Gender Problem

A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) entitled “How often should married couples have sex? What happens when he says ‘more’ and she says ‘no?” caused quite a stir this past week. The original piece told the tale of a married couple (Chris and Afton) that developed a sexual desire discrepancy (the clinical term for a case in which one partner wants more sex than the other). The couple communicated with each other about the discrepancy, read a self-help book together, and ultimately worked through it. That’s a positive outcome, right?  Judging by the responses that appeared on Jezebel, The Week, New York Magazine, and several other websites, this is anything but a happy ending. The problem? The partner who desired more sex in this scenario was male and the one who wanted less sex was female.
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Do Women Prefer Well-Endowed Men? Why You Should Be Skeptical Of The New Study Claiming “Size Matters”

A new study examining women’s perceptions of penis size has been making the rounds in the media lately with headlines ranging from “Science Proves Women Like Men with Bigger Penises,” to “This Just In: Women Prefer Well-Endowed Men,” to “Science Proves Women Love a Big ‘Ol D.” Based upon these and dozens of other international headlines, one might reasonably conclude that the age-old question “Does size really matter?” has been settled once and for all. So women who are attracted to men are looking for guys with humongous penises because a bigger penis makes for better sex, right? Not so fast. The reality is that these headlines don't tell the whole story, and this study says nothing about whether penis size affects female sexual pleasure.
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Just How Sexually Active Are Adolescents Today?

Media headlines have been abuzz lately with reports of kids having sex at younger and younger ages. Perhaps you heard about the four Louisiana fifth-graders who made national news when it was discovered that they had sex at school in an unsupervised classroom. Or perhaps you read about the lawsuit filed against a California preschool when it was discovered that two 5-year-old girls performed fellatio on a male classmate and the teacher failed to stop it. Is sexual activity among kids really as rampant as these and other media reports suggest? According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, perhaps not.
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Does Internet Porn Really “Cause Memory Loss?”

A new study published in The Journal of Sex Research about the psychological effects of exposure to online pornography has been making the rounds in the media recently. A number of provocative headlines have popped up stating things such as “Viewing Online Pornography Can Make You Lose Your Memory” and “Your Porn Addiction May Lead To Memory Loss.” So, basically, porn causes amnesia. Sounds pretty serious, right? Not so fast. A closer look at the research reveals that these claims are overblown.
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Adopted Children Do Just As Well Regardless Of Their Parents’ Sexual Orientation

Earlier this year, a study was released suggesting that children are better off when raised by heterosexual couples than by same-sex couples [1]. That study received widespread media attention, despite the fact that it was fundamentally flawed and really said next to nothing about the parenting skills of gay and lesbian parents (you can read more about my take on that study here). In contrast, a new study about adopted children just came out concluding that such kids do equally well irrespective of the sexual orientation of their parents. Although the newer study was far more academically rigorous, it was largely ignored by the mainstream media. In this post, I will review the findings of this study and discuss why the media just doesn’t seem to care about it.
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Why The Harvard “Munch” Club Is Not Actual News

Last week, the Harvard College Munch became an official student organization on campus. The goal of this group is to provide a forum for students who are interested in “kinky” sex to discuss their interests and to build a community. As soon as word of the club’s approval hit the street, the national and international news media picked it up and ran story after story about the new “sex club” at Harvard. This became such a huge media frenzy that the Munch was a top story on CNN.com all weekend, snatched headlines around the globe, and prompted heated debates on some of the biggest political talk shows. But is it really a more important point of discussion than the “fiscal cliff” or any of the actual newsworthy events going on in the world right now? No. And here’s why…
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Is Jumping Into Bed Quickly Harmful To Relationships?

Are couples who start having sex right away not as happy in the long run? A new study has found that heterosexual romantic partners who had sex within the first month of seeing each other reported lower levels of relationship satisfaction, communication, and commitment compared to partners who waited six months or longer to begin having sex [1]. However, these effects held only for women, not men, meaning that timing of sexual activity was not related to how men felt about their relationships. The popular media has jumped on this study running headlines such as “How Leaping Into Bed Harms Relationships” and “Sex Before Marriage Adversely Impacts Relationships.” These media reports go on to claim that early sex “stunts” relationship development and causes “unhappy” marriages. However, if you look at the actual data, it will become apparent that these reports are sensationalized and that it is far from clear whether early sex is truly “harmful” to our romantic lives.
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Fact Check: Do Stressed-Out Men Really Prefer Curvier Women?

Fact Check: Do Stressed-Out Men Really Prefer Curvier Women?
A recent study looking at the types of women that men are attracted to during times of stress made huge international news this month. Among the many headlines I came across reporting on this study were “Stressed-Out Guys Prefer Chubbier Women,” “Stressed Men Prefer Big Ladies,” and “Men Prefer Fat Women When Under Stress.” To the casual observer glancing at these headlines, the logical conclusion would appear to be that when men get stressed, their ideal partner’s body type becomes much larger. But is this really the case? Not exactly. As you’ll see below, it’s pretty clear that most of the reporters covering this story didn’t even bother to consult the original source.
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What Can Psychology Tell Us About The Controversy Over Prostate Cancer Screenings?

What Can Psychology Tell Us About The Controversy Over Prostate Cancer Screenings?
Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force came out against the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This test has been widely used for years as a way of screening male patients for prostate cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. The Task Force’s decision stoked a huge controversy and generated outrage among the many doctors and cancer survivors who firmly believe that the test works. However, if the Task Force's decision was based on sound science, why did it create such a political firestorm? According to a new paper published in the journal Psychological Science, the answer lies in human psychology.1
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Have Scientists Really Found The Next Viagra?

There was a recent media frenzy about a new study suggesting that the hormone oxytocin may improve male sexual desire and functioning. Among some of the more provocative headlines I came across were “Oxytocin could be new Viagra” and “Forget Viagra, the 'Cuddle drug' could be the new way to boost performance in the bedroom.” These and numerous other headlines around the world made very bold claims about oxytocin’s ability to enhance men’s sexual abilities. But were they justified? A closer look at the research reveals yet another case of the media jumping the gun and making sensationalized claims that go far beyond the available science.
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Do Straight Couples Really Make Better Parents Than Gay Couples?

Do Straight Couples Really Make Better Parents Than Gay Couples?
Every time a new study comes out comparing the outcomes of children raised by same-sex and heterosexual couples, it garners a huge amount of media attention. It doesn’t matter what the actual findings are or whether the study is even of good quality—reporters, politicians, and activists take it as an opportunity to reignite the debate over whether a couple’s sexuality affects their parenting skills. In my view, such media reports are not only inconsequential, but they are also offensive and counterproductive. Let me explain.
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Ten of the Most Sensationalized Sex Headlines From the Past Few Years

Ten of the Most Sensationalized Sex Headlines From the Past Few Years
I make it a point to keep up with the latest sex and relationships news but, unfortunately, I find that a lot of the media reports on these topics are not very well written and tend to be overly sensationalized. Part of the problem is that many of the people we trust to report on science don’t have a solid understanding of statistics and the scientific method. As a result, I constantly come across articles that are misleading or, in some cases, completely false. What I’d like to do in this article is share some of most sensationalized articles I’ve come across in recent years and explain where the reporting went wrong.
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Are Sexually Active Teenagers At Greater Risk For Depression? "Yes," Say Hamsters

I recently read an article entitled Teen Sex May Affect Brain Development, which suggested that sexually active adolescents may have an elevated risk of mood disorders compared to their peers who remain abstinent. Several prominent news sites have run similar stories in recent days. This got me wondering whether there was anything to this idea. Are sexually active teenagers really more prone to psychological problems? My analysis of the research in this area suggests that this is not the case.
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