More Evidence That Sex Could Be Good For Your Brain

More Evidence That Sex Could Be Good For Your Brain

Research on both humans and animals increasingly suggests that being sexually active just might benefit the brain. Here's an overview of the evidence that has accumulated so far:

  • A 2010 study on male rats discovered a link between sexual activity and neuron growth [1]. Specifically, rats that were allowed to have sex daily over a two-week period demonstrated more neuron growth than rats that were only allowed to have sex once during that time.

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There’s Just One Problem With Suppressing Sexual Thoughts—It Doesn’t Work

There’s Just One Problem With Suppressing Sexual Thoughts—It Doesn’t Work

Let’s say you have a sexual fantasy about something—or someone—you’re not “supposed” to do, perhaps because it conflicts with the teachings of your religion. When a thought about this pops into your head, what do you do?

One of the most common responses people have to unwanted thoughts is to actively suppress them. While this may work in the short term as a means of reducing these thoughts, unfortunately, it’s not a very effective strategy for clearing your mind of them. As it turns out, suppressing a given thought just makes us think about it more in the long run.

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What Does (And Doesn't) Impact Men's Sperm Health

What Does (And Doesn't) Impact Men's Sperm Health

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.

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5 Things You Should Know About Bisexuality For LGBT Pride Month

5 Things You Should Know About Bisexuality For LGBT Pride Month

Bisexuality continues to be a widely misunderstood sexual orientation. Given that this is LGBT Pride Month, I thought it would be useful to put together an article that explores some of the key findings that scientists have uncovered about bisexuality that can speak to some of the biggest misconceptions about it. Here goes:

1.) Bisexuality is real, and it’s not the same as being gay or lesbian. A lot of people deny the existence of bisexuality and assume that everyone who identifies as bisexual is secretly gay; however, the results of several studies reveal that bisexuality involves a distinct pattern of sexual interest and arousal compared to homosexuality.

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How Your Sense Of Smell Shapes Your Sexual Experiences

How Your Sense Of Smell Shapes Your Sexual Experiences

It’s hardly a new revelation that our sense of smell plays an important role in our sexual and romantic lives. I mean, after all, the multi-billion dollar perfume, cologne, and deodorant industries are founded on the premise that smelling good is one of the keys to finding—and keeping—a relationship partner. The role our nostrils play in our sex lives appears to go much deeper than this, though. Smells don’t just have the potential to shape who we find to be attractive, but also how we experience sex itself.

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Americans’ Support for Same-Sex Marriage is at an All-Time High

Americans’ Support for Same-Sex Marriage is at an All-Time High

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic change in support for same-sex marriage in the United States. Consider this: in 2007, the Pew Research Center conducted a national poll, which found that just 37% of Americans were in favor, while 54% were opposed. By contrast, this year’s poll found quite the reversal: nearly two-thirds (62%) are now in favor, with 32% opposed. This all-time high comes just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. 

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Three Observations About Sex And Culture In Europe

Three Observations About Sex And Culture In Europe

I recently finished teaching a study abroad course on Sexuality and Culture in the Netherlands. After the course was over, I did some personal travel around Europe, with stops in Germany, the Czech Republic, and France. While the latter part of the trip was mostly a vacation, my sex researcher brain was in full gear the whole time (it always is!). At several points, I couldn’t help but be reminded of just how dramatically different sexual attitudes are in Europe compared to the United States. Here are just a few of the many things I noticed on this trip:

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Seeking Participants For Sex Studies!

Seeking Participants For Sex Studies!

I am currently seeking participants for a study of men's attitudes toward and experiences with sexting. Anyone age 18 or over who identifies as male is eligible to take part. This study entails completing a brief (approximately 20 minute) questionnaire about your sexual attitudes, personality traits, and sexting experiences. If you're interested in participating in this study, please click here to learn more.

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10 Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

10 Myths About Sexual Orientation Debunked By Science

In recognition of June being LGBT Pride Month, I'll be running several LGBT-themed posts on the blog over the next few weeks. To start us off, let's debunk some of the most common myths and misconceptions about sexual orientation. 

1.) Homosexuality is contagious (i.e., you can "catch the gay"). Research has failed to find support for the idea that same sex attraction is transmitted through social contact. For example, a recent, large-scale study found that same-sex attraction does not spread within adolescent peer groups. Likewise, other research has found that gay parents are no more likely to raise gay children than their heterosexual counterparts.

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Why Our Sexual Identities and Sexual Behaviors Don’t Always Line Up

Why Our Sexual Identities and Sexual Behaviors Don’t Always Line Up

What percentage of the population is gay or bisexual? This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer because depending on the definition of sexual orientation you use—sexual identity, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior—you’ll come up with drastically different answers. For instance, in a recent nationally representative survey conducted in the United Kingdom, researchers found that about 2.5% of men and women reported an LGB identity; however, more than twice as many reported having had same-sex attractions and behaviors.

So why is that? Why is there often a discrepancy between someone’s sexual identity and their sexual behavior?

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Why Abstinence and "Purity" Pledges Don't Work

Why Abstinence and "Purity" Pledges Don't Work

In the United States today, 37 states mandate that information on abstinence be provided in sex education courses. As you might imagine, it’s not uncommon for students to be asked to take “purity” or virginity pledges as part of the sex ed. curriculum in these states. 

Students are encouraged to take these pledges in order to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections, but also to prevent unwanted pregnancies. As it turns out, however, abstinence pledges don’t necessarily accomplish either of these goals. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that they just might do just the opposite!

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Summer Lovin’: Research Finds That We Have More Sex In The Summer

Summer Lovin’: Research Finds That We Have More Sex In The Summer

Our sexual behavior patterns change with the seasons--and with the shift from spring to summer just around the corner, research suggests that a change in sexual behavior is likely to follow. Specifically, there seems to be a reliable peak in sexual activity during the summer months.

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The Truth About Unwanted Sexual Arousal (VIDEO)

The Truth About Unwanted Sexual Arousal (VIDEO)

Scientists who study sexual arousal have found that when they show participants a pornographic video, many people (especially women) show signs of genital arousal while simultaneously reporting that they do not feel aroused. This so-called arousal “nonconcordance” has presented a conundrum for researchers—which measure is the more valid way of determining what a participant truly wants and desires?

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What Forced Sex Fantasies Mean In the #MeToo Era

What Forced Sex Fantasies Mean In the #MeToo Era

In the real world, forcing someone to have sex is something that is widely regarded as a repugnant act. By contrast, in our sexual fantasies, the prospect of being forced to have sex is something that many people find to be a major turn-on. For instance, research on the prevalence of so-called “rape fantasies, “ or fantasies about being forced to have sex against one’s will, has found that they are quite common. Indeed, studies have found that anywhere from 31% to 57% of women report having had these fantasies; further, among those who report such fantasies, somewhere between 9% and 17% indicate that this is one of their favorite and/or more frequent fantasies [1].

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What I Learned From An Afternoon With Two 77-Year-Old Sex Workers

What I Learned From An Afternoon With Two 77-Year-Old Sex Workers

As part of the study abroad course I’m teaching on Sex and Culture in the Netherlands, I booked us a tour of Amsterdam’s Red Light District with the famous Fokken twins, Louise and Martine. The Fokken sisters have been employed as sex workers for over a half-century and the day we met just happened to be their 77th birthday. In addition to answering our questions, they talked with us about what it’s like to be a sex worker and how they’ve seen the business change over time. Here are a few of the most interesting parts of our conversation:

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In the Netherlands, Attitudes Toward Homosexuality Are More Mixed Than You Might Think

In the Netherlands, Attitudes Toward Homosexuality Are More Mixed Than You Might Think

The Netherlands is often seen as a utopia for people who are attracted to the same sex—and this view is perfectly understandable when you look at how homosexuality has historically been treated under the law. However, while homosexuality is something that has been accepted in the Netherlands far longer than in has in other parts of the world, this doesn’t mean that everyone in the Netherlands is accepting of sexual minorities or that sexual minorities here are immune from the effects of prejudice and discrimination.

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Why Dutch Teens Have Better Sexual Health Than American Teens

Why Dutch Teens Have Better Sexual Health Than American Teens

This week in my study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands, we're focusing on cross-cultural differences in sexual health and sex education. As a starting point, we're reviewing some statistics that highlight how dramatically different teens’ sexual health outcomes are in the Netherlands relative to the U.S. Check out the infographic below for a quick overview, which shows that teen girls in the Netherlands have much lower rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Below, we’ll discuss why.

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Sex Laws in the Netherlands

Sex Laws in the Netherlands

I've been researching sex laws in the Netherlands as part of the study abroad course on sex and culture that I'm teaching. One of the ways sex laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the US is that prostitution and brothels are legal and regulated by the government--but you probably already knew that. So here are a few other legal differences that might be new to you. 

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Do Sex Workers Have Better Mental Health In Cultures Where Prostitution Is Legal?

Do Sex Workers Have Better Mental Health In Cultures Where Prostitution Is Legal?

Today in my study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands, we're focusing on sex work, especially the link between prostitution and mental health. Many studies have been conducted on the mental health of people (mostly women) who sell sex for a living. Most of this research has found that female sex workers suffer from rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD that are much higher than the rest of the female population. However, virtually of all of this research is based on studies of female sex workers who live in countries where prostitution is illegal.

So what about places, like the Netherlands where sex work is permitted under the law?

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I'm Studying Sex in the Netherlands For the Next Two Weeks!

I'm Studying Sex in the Netherlands For the Next Two Weeks!

Greetings from Amsterdam! For the second year in a row, I’m teaching a study abroad course on Sexuality and Culture in the Netherlands. Today is the first full day of my two-week course, and I couldn't be more excited. Amsterdam is, of course, an awesome city—but it’s also a fascinating place to teach students about cross-cultural differences in sexuality for a couple of weeks.

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