The Psychology of Sadism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Others' Pain

The Psychology of Sadism: Why Some People Are Turned On By Others' Pain

Sexual sadists are people who derive arousal from inflicting pain on others. This could be physical pain, such as hitting someone else, or it could be psychological pain, such as humiliating another person. Where does this sexual interest come from? A lot of people are curious, including a reader who recently sent me the following question:

“My friend expressed that he is turned on by the idea of seeing someone feel pain and/or discomfort. He said if you want to turn him on, you should whimper or cry. Of course this isn’t his only turn on, but I wonder where it comes from. Why would seeing someone hurt turn him on sexually?”

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10 Things You Should Know About Anal Sex

10 Things You Should Know About Anal Sex

As a sex educator, one of the topics I get asked about most often is anal sex. Given how curious people seem to be about this activity, I thought it would be worth putting together a brief guide that addresses some of the most common questions people have about anal sex. So, here goes:

1.) Anal sex is a very popular sexual activity in the United States today, with CDC research suggesting that close to one-half of men and about one-third of women have had anal intercourse before.

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4 Fascinating Things Scientists Have Learned About Love

4 Fascinating Things Scientists Have Learned About Love

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a lot of folks have love on the brain—so, let’s talk today about the science of love. Here are four of the most fascinating things researchers have found by studying love relationships. 

1.) We lie to ourselves about the ones we love. People have a tendency to idealize their romantic partners—to think of them as being better than they really are in some way, like thinking that your partner is the absolute best romantic partner anyone could ever have. Scientists refer to these beliefs as “positive illusions” and, believe it or not, these inaccurate beliefs are actually beneficial for our relationships in many ways.

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Are There Any Benefits Or Risks To Having Sex During Your Period?

Are There Any Benefits Or Risks To Having Sex During Your Period?

A reader submitted the following question:

“I have read several blogs and magazines saying that having sex during menstruation can help to alleviate cramps. Is there any truth to this? Is there any research? Also is there any risk in having sex in those moments?”

Thanks for these great questions! With respect to the idea that sex reduces cramping and pain during menstruation, you’re right—there are a TON of websites out there making this claim. I did a quick search and saw it mentioned on WebMD, Kinsey Confidential, Medical Daily, and ABC News, among many, many others.

However, not a single one pointed to a specific study or source to back this idea up.

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Sex Question Friday: How Can We Make Anal Sex More Pleasurable?

Sex Question Friday: How Can We Make Anal Sex More Pleasurable?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a male reader who wanted to know more about the topic of anal sex:

“My girlfriend and I both really want to try anal sex, but every time we do, we stop almost immediately because she says it’s too painful. Are we doing something wrong? Is there anything we can try to make it pleasurable instead of painful for her?

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Women's Most Common Sexual Problems (Infographic)

Women's Most Common Sexual Problems (Infographic)

Sexual functioning plays a huge role not only in terms of how we feel about ourselves, but also how we feel about our relationships. Despite its great importance to everyday quality of life, there is surprisingly little research out there examining the prevalence of sexual difficulties and the factors associated with them. Check out the infographic below for a look at some brand new data from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles concerning women's reports of sexual problems. Next week, we'll take a look at some of the most common sexual difficulties facing men.

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What Do Sadists and Masochists Actually Do In Bed?

What Do Sadists and Masochists Actually Do In Bed?

In my last article, I discussed the prevalence of sexual sadism and masochism based upon results from the latest Reader Survey. This survey revealed that 50% of readers reported experiences with sadism (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure from giving pain) and 51% with masochism (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure from receiving pain). The goal of this article is to explore in more depth and detail how sadomasochism is actually experienced among readers who completed the survey. Specifically, what type of pain was most common (physical vs. psychological), and how intense was it? And what types of sadomasochistic acts were practiced most frequently?

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Are Women Really More Likely To Cheat On Men With Big Penises?

Are Women Really More Likely To Cheat On Men With Big Penises?

A new study that sought to uncover what factors predict women’s likelihood of committing infidelity has been making a lot of headlines [1]. Although this study identified several variables linked to women’s cheating behaviors, most media reports have focused exclusively on one: women were statistically more likely to cheat on men with longer penises. Most of the headlines said something along the lines of “The Larger Your Penis, The More Likely Your Wife Will Cheat.” Others went as far as claiming that penis size is “a leading cause of marital infidelity.” The message is clear: large penises are destroying the institution of marriage! But why? According to media reports, it’s because bigger penises cause painful and uncomfortable sex, which leads women to look for partners who are packing less heat. So are these claims warranted by the data? A closer look at the research suggests that the headlines have been wildly exaggerated.

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The Science Of Heartbreak (VIDEO)

The Science Of Heartbreak (VIDEO)

Have you ever wondered why people often use physical terms to describe the emotional pain they experience from breakup and other forms of social rejection? It turns out that the same parts of the brain that process physical pain also process emotional pain, which may explain why emotional pain feels as bad as it does. But why is this the case? Some scientists theorize that there may be an important evolutionary reason behind it. Check out the video below by ASAP Science for a quick rundown of some of the research on this topic.

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Sex Question Friday: Do Women Enjoy Anal Sex?

Sex Question Friday: Do Women Enjoy Anal Sex?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from reader who wanted to know how many women have experienced anal sex and their perceptions of this activity.

How many women have had anal sex? Is it possible for a woman to enjoy it and even orgasm from it? Or do women just have anal sex because they feel pressure from their partners?

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Is It Possible To "Fracture" An Erection?

Despite the fact that erections are often referred to as “boners,” there are no actual bones in the human penis. Of course, some animals have penile bones, including walruses, which can be up to two feet long and were supposedly once used as war clubs by Native Alaskans—but that’s a story for another day. Today we’re talking about the human penis and whether it is possible to “fracture” an erection even though there are no actual bones to break. The answer is (disturbingly enough) yes.

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Fact Check: Do Condoms Actually Increase STD Risk For Porn Performers?

“The shortest porn scenes require an absolute minimum of ‘half an hour of hard thrusting by a well-endowed young man. It's hard enough to deal with [without] condoms. Add latex to the mix and I'm down to being able to work with a man once a week at best, to say nothing of the damage it would do to my private life and intimacy with my husband.’” – Porn actress Nina Hartley on the use of condoms in pornography

Next month, voters in California will decide whether to enact a law requiring pornography performers to wear condoms during films in an attempt to reduce their risk of contracting and spreading HIV and other STIs. This issue has stoked a lot of controversy and has generated a number of articles and opinion pieces arguing both for and against the ballot measure. One article in particular, entitled “Why Porn Sex is the Safest Sex,” caught my attention, and not just for its provocative title (which stems from a quote by porn actor James Deen who argued that “the safest sex you can have is in the adult film business”). If you read the entire article, it goes on to suggest that use of condoms during porn actually makes the performers less safe. Needless to say, I thought this claim merited a fact check.

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Sex Question Friday: Do STDs Affect Women's Ability To Reach Orgasm?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a college student who wanted to know whether having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can interfere with a woman’s sexual pleasure.

If you happen to contract an STD, is it more difficult to induce a female orgasm?

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Sex Question Friday: Pain and Pleasure, Pregnancy without Penetration, and How Straight People Respond to Gay Porn

Sex Question Friday: Pain and Pleasure, Pregnancy without Penetration, and How Straight People Respond to Gay Porn
Every Friday on the blog, I answer a few burning sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week, we’re going to talk about why some people mix pain with pleasure, whether you can get pregnant without ever having sexual intercourse, and whether heterosexual men and women become sexually aroused when watching gay porn.
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