10 Scientific Sex Terms You Probably Didn’t Know

10 Scientific Sex Terms You Probably Didn’t Know

Scientific research papers are often indecipherable to the average reader. This is due, in part, to the fact that scientists use a lot of jargon—they have a special vocabulary that usually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to non-scientists. This jargon issue is something that occurs across all scientific disciplines, and sexology is no exception.

In this post, let’s take a look at several sex jargon terms I’ve come across in research papers and decipher what the researchers were really talking about. Here goes…

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Fact Check: Are There Really Racial Differences In Penis Size?

Fact Check: Are There Really Racial Differences In Penis Size?

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.

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The Link Between Homophobia and Insomnia and Why It Matters For LGB Health

The Link Between Homophobia and Insomnia and Why It Matters For LGB Health

Sexual minority individuals—that is, people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or who otherwise report same-sex attraction or behavior—are at increased risk for developing a number of physical health problems relative to people who are exclusively heterosexual. As some evidence of this, consider a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which analyzed the health of sexual minorities in the United States using a nationally representative sample of more than 30,000 Americans [1].

No matter what measure of sexual orientation was utilized in this study (LGB identity, same-sex attraction, same-sex behavior), sexual minorities were at increased risk of various health problems compared to heterosexuals.

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Is Erectile Dysfunction Really on the Rise in Young Men?

Is Erectile Dysfunction Really on the Rise in Young Men?

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.

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When It Comes To Sex, "Average" and "Normal" Don't Mean the Same Thing

When It Comes To Sex, "Average" and "Normal" Don't Mean the Same Thing

People email me with questions about their sex lives all the time. More often than not, these questions boil down to the same theme: "Am I normal?"

A lot of folks asking these questions have already researched the answers and, often, they've discovered that they differ from some statistical average reported in the media. It's the realization of this difference that prompts many follow-up emails to me. For instance, I sometimes hear from men who worry that they're masturbating and/or watching porn "too much," as well as people of all genders who worry that they aren't having "enough" sex with their partners.

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Better Sex Through Mindfulness: An Interview With Dr. Lori Brotto (VIDEO)

Better Sex Through Mindfulness: An Interview With Dr. Lori Brotto (VIDEO)

Difficulties with sexual desire and arousal are common, especially among women—and they’re notoriously difficult to treat with medications alone. However, the good news is that these problems are responsive to psychological treatments. Increasingly, one such treatment researchers have focused on is something known as mindfulness, and there’s a brand new book out about it that describes how you can use this technique to not only combat sexual difficulties, but also to have better sex in general. 

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How the Practice of BDSM is Linked to Relationship Satisfaction

How the Practice of BDSM is Linked to Relationship Satisfaction

People who are into bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism (or BDSM for short) experience a lot of stigma. For one thing, they are often seen as psychologically disturbed, despite research showing that BDSM practitioners appear to be just as psychologically healthy as everyone else. For another, many people—including a lot of mental health professionals—question whether you can practice BDSM and still have a healthy relationship. In fact, in one survey of therapists, fully one-third of them reported being unsure of whether someone into BDSM could carry on a functional relationship [1].

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How Many Gay Men Say They Are Bisexual When They're Coming Out?

How Many Gay Men Say They Are Bisexual When They're Coming Out?

In an episode of the classic television series Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw discovers that a guy she's seeing has dated both men and women. Uncomfortable with the thought of taking things further, she confides to her friends: “You know, I did the ‘date a bisexual guy’ thing in college, but in the end they all ended up with men…I’m not even sure bisexuality exists. I think it’s just a layover on the way to gaytown.”

Carrie expressed a belief that a lot of people in the real world hold, too—that all bisexual men are secretly gay and just aren’t quite ready to come out. However, the stereotype that all bisexual men are gays in disguise is, like Sex and the City, pure fiction (see here and here for scientific evidence that bisexuality is a distinct sexual orientation). That said, it turns out that there is some truth to the idea that bisexuality sometimes serves as a transitional sexual identity.

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Swingers And Polyamorists May Have More Satisfying Sex Lives Than Monogamists

Swingers And Polyamorists May Have More Satisfying Sex Lives Than Monogamists

There’s a common assumption that monogamous relationships are superior to consensually non-monogamous relationships in virtually all ways. In fact, studies have found that monogamous relationships are thought to be better in terms of promoting closeness, trust, intimacy, companionship, and communication [1]. However, the presumed benefits don’t stop there—monogamous relationships are assumed to be more sexually satisfying, too, because it’s presumed that people who open their relationships are only doing so because they’re unhappy in some way.

So is it really the case that monogamists necessarily have better sex lives and relationships overall compared to those who are in consensually non-monogamous relationships? Do the stereotypes reflect reality? Let’s take a look at the research.

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The Most Common Reasons For Sex And How They Differ Based On Gender And Age

The Most Common Reasons For Sex And How They Differ Based On Gender And Age

How many different reasons are there to have sex? At least 237, according to one study. However, that study was primarily based on young college students, which begs the question of how people’s sexual motivations might differ based on age. It’s also reasonable to wonder whether men and women experience similar or different changes in their reasons for having sex as they get older, too.

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When People Cheat, Who Do They Do It With? Is It Usually A Friend Or A Stranger?

When People Cheat, Who Do They Do It With? Is It Usually A Friend Or A Stranger?

There’s a lot of research out there looking at how many people have cheated, their reasons for cheating, and what “counts” as cheating; however, surprisingly little work has looked at who people are actually having sex with when they commit infidelity. Is it usually with someone they know, or with a stranger? And does this differ for men and women? A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some answers.

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Changes In Americans’ Attitudes Toward And Experiences With Infidelity In The Last Two Decades

Changes In Americans’ Attitudes Toward And Experiences With Infidelity In The Last Two Decades

Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.

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Sexlessness: How Many Americans Didn’t Have Sex Last Year?

Sexlessness: How Many Americans Didn’t Have Sex Last Year?

Most people have sex at least once in their lives. For example, in a longitudinal study of over 20,000 American adolescents who were surveyed repeatedly over a 15-year period, just 3% of them reported never having had vaginal, anal, or oral sex at any point. However, just because someone does it once, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will remain sexually active throughout their lives.

For a variety of reasons, many people go through long periods of sexlessness, and a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into just how common this is.

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Why Cars Are One Of The Most Popular Places To Have Sex

Why Cars Are One Of The Most Popular Places To Have Sex

People fantasize about having sex in a wide range of settings, but cars are one of the most popular. As some evidence of this, I surveyed more than four thousand Americans about their sexual fantasies for my forthcoming book Tell Me What You Want and found that the vast majority (77%) said they'd fantasized about sex in motor vehicles. Moreover, about 1 in 5 people who took the survey said they had fantasies about this often.

Clearly, cars represent an appealing place to have sex. A lot of people seem to be acting on their car sex fantasies, too.

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How Is Porn Use Linked To Relationship Satisfaction? It’s Complicated

How Is Porn Use Linked To Relationship Satisfaction? It’s Complicated

It’s easy to find articles in the popular media talking about how porn ruins relationships. Many scientific studies have made this claim, too. However, there’s a problematic assumption embedded in most of these writings, which is that porn affects all people the same way. That’s not a very good assumption to make.

When it comes to something like porn, different people are going to be affected by it in different ways because of their unique psychological profile. Some of us are predisposed to view porn (and its effects) in a negative light, whereas others are predisposed to view it in a positive light. A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers support for this nuanced view of the effects of porn on relationships.

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The 4 Main Reasons People Stop Having Kids

The 4 Main Reasons People Stop Having Kids

Why do people who start a family decide it’s time to stop having children? A new set of studies published in the journal Marriage and Family Review identifies 4 primary factors that motivate people to stop procreating (incidentally, this study also identified the main reasons people decide to start having children in the first place, which you can learn more about in this post).

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The G-Spot Isn’t What You Think It Is

The G-Spot Isn’t What You Think It Is

Few aspects of genital anatomy have sparked as much scientific debate as the so-called G-spot (also known as the Grafenberg spot). Some researchers have argued that it is a distinct anatomic site, claiming to have found definitive evidence for its existence, whereas others have argued that the evidence behind such claims is far from convincing. 

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Shades of Gay: Is There a Real Difference Between a Kinsey 5 and a Kinsey 6?

Shades of Gay: Is There a Real Difference Between a Kinsey 5 and a Kinsey 6?

People tend to think about sexual orientation in terms of a small number of distinct categories—most commonly, straight, bisexual, and gay. Those who subscribe to this view expect that everyone will fit neatly into one of these three boxes. However, others argue that sexual orientation is far more complex and is best viewed along a continuum or spectrum. The idea of a sexual orientation spectrum can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey, whose Kinsey Scale allowed for seven degrees of heterosexuality and homosexuality:

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Seeking Participants For Sex Studies!

Seeking Participants For Sex Studies!

If you're reading this, odds are that you love learning about the latest sex research. But really, who doesn't? Have you ever wanted to go beyond reading about it, though, perhaps by taking part in an actual sex study (or two)? If so, check out the Sex Studies page, which is updated regularly with calls for participation from sex scientists across the globe. Ten studies have already been added since the beginning of this year alone!

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A Sex Therapist On Overcoming Male Sexual Performance Anxiety (Video)

A Sex Therapist On Overcoming Male Sexual Performance Anxiety (Video)

One of the most popular stereotypes of male sexuality is that men want sex all of the time because they're just "wired" that way. In other words, sex is seen as a largely biological function for men, with their emotional and psychological states having little to do with it. This stereotype can be harmful because it can make a guy start to wonder what's wrong with him when he doesn't want sex but his partner does--and to the extent that this becomes a chronic source of concern, it can create performance anxiety and detract from his ability to become and stay aroused in the future. This is but one of the many reasons why it's important for us to rethink our assumptions about male sexuality.

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