How Being "In The Moment" Can Enhance Your Sex Life

How Being "In The Moment" Can Enhance Your Sex Life

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

Why So Many Women Are Drawn To Gay Male Porn

Why So Many Women Are Drawn To Gay Male Porn

Many women find man-on-man pornography to be sexually arousing. In fact, one of the world's biggest porn sites--Pornhub--has reported that gay male porn is the second most popular category among female visitors. Many of you may be wondering what it is that draws so many women to it. A recent study published in the journal Porn Studies offers some valuable insight.

Read More

Video: The Science of "Blue Balls" and "Blue Vulva"

Video: The Science of "Blue Balls" and "Blue Vulva"

The term "blue balls" is frequently used to describe "a dull, aching sensation that occurs during sexual arousal before or without ejaculation." You may or may not realize this, but the "blue" in blue balls actually has a dual meaning. First and most obvious is the fact that the testicles themselves actually appear to take on a bluish hue. However, this term also references the fact that blue balls is considered to be a sad experience because the implication is usually that one is aroused but cannot find sexual relief (i.e., it's often considered to be a state of sexual frustration). 

So what happens when someone gets blue balls anyway?

Read More

Why Do So Many Conservative Men Wind Up In Sex Scandals With Other Men?

Why Do So Many Conservative Men Wind Up In Sex Scandals With Other Men?

If you follow the news closely, you've probably noticed that, month after month, reports emerge about politically or religiously conservative men who find themselves embroiled in scandals in which they were caught having sex with other men. These events routinely make the news because the men involved tend to be outspoken opponents of LGBT+ rights who are caught engaging in hypocrisy.

So why does this keep happening? Why do so many conservative leaders wind up in these situations? Social psychological research offers a few potential explanations. 

Read More

Why Do We Fantasize About Sex? There Are More Reasons Than You Think

Why Do We Fantasize About Sex? There Are More Reasons Than You Think

Why do we have sexual fantasies? For many of you, the first thought that probably comes to mind is to enhance sexual arousal or to experience pleasure. However, that’s just one of many potential reasons we might fantasize about sex. In this post, we’ll consider the most commonly reported reasons for having a sexual fantasy according to a survey of 4,175 Americans (note that this survey formed the basis for my latest book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life).

Read More

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?

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

Can You Build Up A Tolerance To Porn?

Can You Build Up A Tolerance To Porn?

There’s a widespread belief that, if you watch enough porn, your brain will build up a tolerance to it, meaning that you will require more and more extreme stuff in order to become—and stay—sexually aroused. Unfortunately, there hasn’t really been any compelling research to either support or refute this idea; however, a new study published in the journal Sexual Medicine suggests that the notion of porn causing a tolerance effect is probably a myth.

Read More

Genital Arousal and Sexual Desire Aren’t Necessarily the Same Thing

Genital Arousal and Sexual Desire Aren’t Necessarily the Same Thing

Scientists who study sexual desire have long been wary of over-relying on self-report data because people don’t always tell the truth on surveys. Some people answer questions about what turns them on and what their sex lives are like in whatever way makes them look best. For example, someone might underreport their sexual desires and experiences in order to appear wholesome, or perhaps because they don't want to own up to something. To get around this issue, many sex scientists utilize devices that can measure genital arousal under the assumption that “genitals don’t lie.” Among researchers who subscribe to this belief, they have a tendency to let genital data trump self-report data whenever they seem to be saying different things.

Read More

Can Men Who Identify as Gay Still be Aroused by Women?

Can Men Who Identify as Gay Still be Aroused by Women?

Many people think about sexual orientation in terms of just three distinct categories: straight, bisexual, and gay. Those who subscribe to this view usually don’t allow for anything in between—they expect that everyone will fit neatly into one of these three boxes.

By contrast, others have argued that sexual orientation is far more complex and is best viewed along a continuum. The idea of a sexual orientation continuum is not new and, in fact, can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey.

Read More

“Transitional Bisexuality”: Why Some Gay Men First Come Out As Bisexual

“Transitional Bisexuality”: Why Some Gay Men First Come Out As Bisexual

On one episode of the popular television series Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw discovers that the guy she's currently seeing had dated both men and women in the past. Clearly uncomfortable with the thought of taking things any further with him, 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 folks in the real world hold, too—that all bisexual men are secretly gay and just aren’t quite ready to come out yet. This idea 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); however, it turns out that there is some truth to the idea that bisexuality sometimes serves as a transitional identity.

Read More

Why Was There So Much Gay Sex At The RNC? A Social Psychologist Explains

Why Was There So Much Gay Sex At The RNC? A Social Psychologist Explains

At last week’s Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, reports are that a lot of sex was going on behind the scenes—a lot of gay sex to be precise. For example, during the convention, usage of the all-male hookup app Grindr was more than twice as high as usual in the Cleveland area. But it wasn’t just that—male escorts in the Cleveland area also reported booming business for the week.

Media outlets were quick to point out the irony, considering that this year’s Republican party platform is unabashedly anti-gay, with the Log Cabin Republicans (the gay branch of the party) going as far as to call it the “most anti-LGBT…in the Party’s 162-year history.”

While all of this is certainly interesting, what I found to be missing in all the media reports coming out was a look at why—why would so many gay and bisexual people attend a political convention for a party that formally opposes so many LGBT causes?

Read More

Why Do So Many Women Watch Gay Male Porn?

Why Do So Many Women Watch Gay Male Porn?

There are a lot of women out there who find man-on-man pornography to be highly arousing. As some evidence of this, one of the biggest porn websites in the world, Pornhub, has reported that gay male porn is actually the second most popular category viewed by female visitors of the site. This has led many to wonder what it is that draws so many women to this type of porn. A new study published (appropriately enough) in the journal Porn Studies sheds some light on the answer.

Read More

Do Men Really Take More Risks And "Show Off" In The Presence Of Sexy Women?

Do Men Really Take More Risks And "Show Off" In The Presence Of Sexy Women?

Several studies have found that when heterosexual men are around attractive women, they become prone to engaging in risky behaviors and spend their money more freely than usual. For instance, one study reported that when male skateboarders performed in front of a female observer, they attempted more dangerous stunts that increased their likelihood of crashing. Other studies have found that, when primed with photos of sexy women, guys are willing to spend more money on luxury goods (e.g., cars and watches).

Some scientists have argued that there’s an evolutionary reason for these effects: the presence of an attractive women stimulates men’s testosterone levels, thereby leading guys to engage in sexual displays that "demonstrate their value.” In other words, these behaviors are thought to convey a man’s status in such a way that he will attract more female mates.

Although several studies have appeared over the years that would seem to support this theory (often referred to in the literature as “romantic priming”), a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has called this whole phenomenon into question and suggests that previous researchers may have overstated the effects.

Read More

Sexual Arousal Can Put Us In A Risk-Taking State Of Mind

Sexual Arousal Can Put Us In A Risk-Taking State Of Mind

Why do people take sexual risks? Obviously, there's not a simple answer to this question. Numerous factors can play a role, including some that are biological (e.g., substance use), psychological (e.g., personality traits), and social in nature (e.g., pressure from a partner). However, one very important and often overlooked factor has to do with the cognitive changes that occur when we enter a state of sexual arousal.

Read More

Is Pornography Use A Risk Factor For Erectile Dysfunction?

Is Pornography Use A Risk Factor For Erectile Dysfunction?

Pornography has been blamed for a number of problems over the years. Among the many claims leveled against porn is that it causes divorce and sexual violence (neither of which is true, by the way). Another claim that has becoming increasingly common is that porn causes sexual difficulties, including erectile dysfunction in men.  But is this really true? Is porn really impairing men’s sexual functioning? Despite how often this claim is made, there has been surprisingly little research to date that can speak to it one way or another. However, a new study just published in Sexual Medicine suggests that this claim, like so many of the others directed at porn, is not supported by the science.

Read More

Sex Question Friday: Why Can’t I Maintain Sexual Interest In One Person?

Sex Question Friday: Why Can’t I Maintain Sexual Interest In One Person?

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 the following:

“I seem to have a problem with sexual arousal and women I am emotionally attached to. When I met my wife, we were very sexually active, but that dwindled as we got deeper into our relationship. I thought at first maybe it was my age, but I have found myself aroused over female friends and acquaintances. The good thing is this has never developed into an affair but I would like to figure out what is wrong with me so that my wife and I can be intimate. This problem predates my wife and in the past, my girlfriends would have to at least pretend to indulge a fantasy of a threesome of them being intimate with someone else (dirty talk about it) just for me to get aroused. So I believe there is a correlation between arousal and degrees of familiarity.”

Read More

More Scientific Evidence That Bisexuality Is A Distinct Sexual Orientation

More Scientific Evidence That Bisexuality Is A Distinct Sexual Orientation

Bisexuality is a controversial sexual orientation among both scientists and laypersons alike. Indeed, there is a popular stereotype that bisexuality “is just a layover on the way to gaytown” (if I may borrow a line from Carrie Bradshaw), and some studies have seemingly provided support for this idea by showing that bisexual men tend to exhibit sexual arousal patterns that look fairly similar to gay men. However, there are a lot of limitations to the existing research on bisexuality. For instance, most of this work has focused on men, meaning that we don't know as much about bisexual women. In addition, most of this research has focused on genital responses to very specific forms of pornography (i.e., two men having sex vs. two women having sex). This methodology creates sampling issues, given that not everyone is willing to participate in such invasive studies, while the pornography used confounds the gender of the performers with different sexual behaviors, making it unclear what viewers are actually responding to. A new study just published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior addressed some of these limitations, with the results providing evidence that both male and female bisexuality are distinct from homosexuality.

Read More