Whenever someone asks what I do for a living, I have a decision to make: do I “out” myself as a sex scientist, or do I give a generic answer that doesn’t emphasize the fact that I study sex for a living? For example, I could simply say that I’m a social psychologist or an author and leave it at that. This choice is something that all sex educators, researchers, and therapists face. Each of us has to figure out on our own what we want to reveal about our jobs to different audiences. However, there’s one audience that’s often especially tricky to navigate: our families.Read More
Difficulties with sexual desire and arousal are common among women and men alike. Unfortunately, medications don’t always fix these problems, in part, because many of these issues have psychological causes, such as distraction or anxiety. When the root of the problem is psychological rather than physiological, we need to look for treatments beyond pills.
One treatment scientists have increasingly focused on is mindfulness, which is defined as “non-judgmental, present-moment awareness.”Read More
The mental health community has long been interested in developing treatments for persons who are attracted to prepubescent children with the goal of preventing sexual offenses. In fact, if you search for “pedophilia treatments” or “pedophile therapy” on Google Scholar, you’ll get thousands of hits.
Numerous treatment approaches have been tested, with many focusing on finding a “cure.” For example, some studies have explored use of aversion therapy, in which something unpleasant (such as a very bad smell) is paired with child stimuli with the goal of reducing pedophilic desires. Others have looked at orgasmic reconditioning, which involves thinking about or speaking aloud socially appropriate fantasies while masturbating to orgasm in an attempt to learn new fantasies that are pleasurable.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
When it comes to relationships, a lot of people are under the impression that there’s just one “right” person out there for them—a so-called “soul mate” or perfect partner. In other words, many of us want someone who can be everything all at the same time: your best friend, a passionate lover, and the person who can meet all of your needs now and forever.
While believing in “the one” is a very popular way to think about relationships, sex therapists don’t think it’s a very healthy one.Read More
Over the years, I’ve received countless emails from readers saying things along the lines of, “He says I don't want it enough. I think he wants it too much. What do we do?” Sometimes it’s women who want less sex than their male partners, sometimes it’s men who want less sex than their female partners, and sometimes it’s same-sex couples who aren’t on the same page about how much sex (or what kind of sex) they'd like to have.
Cases like this—where couples have persistent problems when it comes to matching up their sexual wants and needs—are known as sexual desire discrepancies. They’re incredibly common, too.Read More
It is not uncommon for men to experience sexual difficulties. In fact, national surveys have found that nearly half of male participants report having had at least one sexual problem in the last year. Two of the most common sex problems reported are premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. To learn more about the nature, causes, and treatment of these two issues, check out the infographic below. It includes some useful self-help strategies that men experiencing these difficulties might consider, but it also introduces some of the more advanced treatment options that may be offered to those who seek professional help. Please note that some of the drug treatment options listed are not available everywhere (e.g., Priligy for premature ejaculation and Spedra for erectile dysfunction are not currently available in the U.S.). For more detailed information on treating male sexual difficulties, check out this article.Read More
Flibanserin, a drug some of you probably know more commonly as "female Viagra" or "pink Viagra," has been in the news a lot lately. This is a drug that is widely misunderstood and very controversial, so let's take a moment to set the record straight on it. In the video below, Indiana University physician and health researcher Dr. Aaron Carroll explains what we do and do not know about Flibanserin. He starts by describing the differences between how Flibanserin and Viagra actually work, and explains why the media's common usage of the term "female/pink Viagra" is inaccurate and misleading. He then breaks down the data on the effectiveness of Flibanserin, it's side-effect profile, and what the FDA's recent vote on drug really means. Overall, this video offers an excellent look at what the science actually says about Flibanserin, without all of the media spin.Read More
Dr. Shirley Zussman is a practicing sex therapist in New York City--and she recently turned 100-years-old. Across all of her years in practice, sex has changed a lot, from the invention of the birth control pill to the rise of HIV/AIDS to the advent of online dating and hookups. At the same time, though, much remains the same, especially in terms of the sexual problems couples encounter and what people really want from their love lives. Check out the video below to learn more about Zussman and her reflections on how the sexual landscape has changed over time.Read More
One of the keys to a healthy, long-term relationship is maintaining physical intimacy. I’m not just talking about sex, though—for many reasons, non-sexual physical intimacy is just as important. For one thing, touch is a form of communication. It can reveal everything from your partner’s current mood state to their stress level. In addition, touch stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone involved in feelings of bondedness. Touch can therefore bring you closer to your partner both physically and psychologically.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people's questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week's question comes from a female reader who isn't satisfied with the amount and type of sex she is having with her husband:
“I have been married for 11 years. We are good together, but our sexual drive, what I want, how I want it, and how frequently I want it does not match. Talking to him has not helped. I get frustrated. I masturbate but don't feel satisfied. What can I do?”Read More
Sexual difficulties are common. National survey data have found that as many as 43% of women and 31% of men in the United States report some type of sexual dysfunction, ranging from the absence of orgasm, to painful intercourse, to difficulties with erection and vaginal lubrication. Pinpointing the causes of sexual problems is complicated because biological, psychological, and social factors can all contribute. In this post, I’d like to take a look at one specific factor that has been implicated in a wide range of sexual difficulties, especially among women: body image.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a female reader who can’t reach orgasm in any sexual situation and wants to know what she should do.
I can't climax. It does not happen with my partner, nor does it happen in a hookup. It does not happen during intercourse, nor during masturbation or oral stimulation. Should I see a doctor about that? Or maybe a sex therapist?Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know whether it is reasonable to “expect” an orgasm from your partner every time you have sex.
Is it normal for women to expect orgasm (ejaculation) during intercourse from a male partner? And is it natural for men to expect orgasm during intercourse from a female partner?
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know:
How long can a person go without wanting physical sex? Will that need ever come back at a specific time in a person’s life?
“The best therapy for a man suffering impotence…may be a therapist-supplied ‘other woman’ who embodies patience. Actual patience with a willing woman is crucial.” – Quote from the November 1, 1969 San Francisco Chronicle
Some within the sexual health community have argued that the best way to resolve a sexual difficulty is to “practice” with a substitute partner who is very knowledgeable and experienced. Although this idea has garnered a lot of recent attention with the release of the provocative film The Sessions starring Helen Hunt, sex surrogacy first catapulted into the public spotlight in the 1970s when Masters and Johnson publicly advocated for at least some usage of so-called “surrogate” partners in the practice of sex therapy. As part of their pioneering research, Masters and Johnson actually recruited female volunteers to serve as sex surrogates for single men who were experiencing sexual difficulties and achieved a very high rate of success in treating erectile dysfunction. However, this approach was greeted with a great deal of skepticism and concern by both the broader community of sex therapists and the general public alike. So what is the status of sex surrogate therapy today?
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a female reader who is frustrated by the fact that she wants to have sex more often than her boyfriend.
So I am 20, my boyfriend is 23, and I have a MUCH higher sex drive than him. We have been together for 3 years, and he took my virginity when I was 17. Almost every time I want to have sex and I "put the moves on him" he pushes me away and tells me he's not in the mood and I'm starting to get frustrated. Is there any way you could help me or point me toward some helpful literature even?
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question is a two-parter that comes from a male college student who was concerned about not lasting long enough in bed.
What is the normal time span for intercourse? And how is premature ejaculation treated?
Every Friday on the blog, I answer sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week’s question comes from a reader of the blog who wanted to know what advice I have to offer the aspiring Dr. Ruths of the world.
I am currently a psychology student and I am looking into studying sex and relationship therapy for a career, which lead me to find your website on the Psychology of Human Sexuality. I was wondering if you have any advice for me in regards to graduate school or internship opportunities in the field.