How Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Change as We Get Older

How Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Change as We Get Older

Sex and aging is a topic that has been underexplored in sexuality research, given that the bulk of sex studies to date have focused on college students. However, we’ve learned more in the last few years, as online data collection and national surveys of sexual behavior have increased. 

One study of sex and aging that recently caught my attention explored how people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors change over the lifespan using data from a large and diverse sample of 1,522 adults from across the United States.

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Why Spooning After Sex Might Be Good For Your Love Life

Why Spooning After Sex Might Be Good For Your Love Life

What do you do after sex? Some people like to spoon or cuddle, others go to sleep, and yet others get up to grab something to eat or drink. But does what you do matter? For people in relationships, it certainly seems to, according to research. In fact, the more that couples spoon or otherwise express affection or intimacy after sex, the happier they tend to be.

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How Vasectomies Affect Men’s (And Women’s) Sex Lives

How Vasectomies Affect Men’s (And Women’s) Sex Lives

Vasectomies are one of the most underutilized forms of birth control, in part, because a lot of men are worried about the procedure having a number of negative effects on their sex lives. According to the American Urological Association, “many patients are concerned that vasectomy may cause changes in sexual function such as erectile dysfunction, reduced or absent orgasmic sensation, decreased ejaculate volume, reduced sexual interest, decreased genital sensation and/or diminished sexual pleasure.”

But are these concerns founded? Do guys really need to be worried about vasectomies hurting their sex lives? 

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Why Being a “Details Person” Just Might Make You a Better in Bed

Why Being a “Details Person” Just Might Make You a Better in Bed

Many psychologists believe that our personalities consist of five underlying traits: openness to experience (your willingness to try new things), conscientiousness (how detail oriented and organized you are), extraversion (how outgoing and sociable you are), agreeableness (how much care and concern you have for other people), and neuroticism (how well you deal with stress and how emotionally stable you are). Scientists have studied how each of these traits is related to people’s sexual attitudes and behaviors (and you can read all about that here), but some new research suggests that one of these traits in particular might be especially important when it comes to our sex lives: conscientiousness. 

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Your Personality Traits Can Predict Your Sexual Behaviors, Attitudes, and Sexual Health

Your Personality Traits Can Predict Your Sexual Behaviors, Attitudes, and Sexual Health

Your sex life is, to some extent, a function of your personality. Sex scientists have accumulated a large body of research revealing linkages between what are known as the "Big Five" personality traits and people’s sexual attitudes, behaviors, and health. These findings were recently summarized in a meta-analysis published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

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7 Things That Predict Higher (Or Lower) Sexual Satisfaction

7 Things That Predict Higher (Or Lower) Sexual Satisfaction

Sex scientists have found that people’s sexual satisfaction seems to depend on a wide range of factors, from how often they’re having sex to the types of sexual activities they’re practicing. Here’s a brief review of some of the key factors that are linked to higher versus lower levels of sexual satisfaction.

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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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What the Most Sexually Satisfied Couples are Doing in (and Out of) Bed

What the Most Sexually Satisfied Couples are Doing in (and Out of) Bed

What keeps passion alive in a long-term relationship? According to a recent study of nearly 40,000 adults (all of whom were heterosexual and currently in romantic relationships), there were five key differences between people who said they were able to keep the passion going and those who weren’t. People who kept the spark alive were more likely to (1) spend time setting the mood, (2) practice sexual communication, (3) receive oral sex, (4) be happier with their relationship in general, and (5) engage in more acts of sexual variety.

While there’s a lot to be said about each of these factors, I want to focus on just one of them in this post—the role of sexual variety.

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Porn Use Is Linked To Lower Sexual Satisfaction In Men—But Only If They’re Religious

Porn Use Is Linked To Lower Sexual Satisfaction In Men—But Only If They’re Religious

Several studies have found that pornography use is associated with lower levels of sexual satisfaction (see here and here and here for a few examples). On the basis of this pretty consistent finding, many have concluded that porn necessarily has negative implications for people’s sex lives. As it turns out, however, porn per se probably isn’t the problem here.

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How Sexual Satisfaction Changes in Long-Term Relationships

How Sexual Satisfaction Changes in Long-Term Relationships

Does sexual satisfaction change over the course of a long-term romantic relationship and, is so, how? On the one hand, you might think that satisfaction increases as partners learn how to pleasure each other and develop a deeper emotional connection; on the other hand, however, it also seems plausible that satisfaction might decrease as the initial feelings of passion subside.

Previous research on this subject produced conflicting results. Moreover, most studies suffered from major limitations, with perhaps the biggest drawback being a persistent focus on cross-sectional data, as opposed to longitudinal data (translation: previous studies looked at data from a single snapshot in time rather than tracking actual changes in satisfaction over a longer period). On top of all that, most research has been based on non-representative samples of young adults and college students.

Fortunately, a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior addresses these shortcomings and provides a more definitive answer to the question of how sexual satisfaction changes with relationship duration.

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How Long Does Sexual “Afterglow” Last?

How Long Does Sexual “Afterglow” Last?

Afterglow refers to “the look of contentment on a person’s face after great sex,” at least according to the Urban Dictionary. In other words, the basic idea here is that sex can sometimes be so good that it has lingering effects on our happiness that others can quite literally see. Despite the popularity of this colloquial term, it’s not something that scientists have studied, which begs the question of whether there is really something to the idea of sexual afterglow and, if so, how long it lasts. A new study published in the journal Psychological Science offers some insights.

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How Does Sexual Satisfaction Change in Older Age?

How Does Sexual Satisfaction Change in Older Age?

It’s a simple biological fact that, as we age, the odds of developing one or more sexual problems increases. But what exactly does this mean for the sexual satisfaction of older adults? Are they necessarily discontent with their sex lives? Study after study has found that there is a negative correlation between age and sexual satisfaction, such that the older people get, the less satisfied they report being [1,2]. However, if you dig a little further into the research, you will see that it would be a mistake to conclude that older adults are inherently unhappy in the bedroom.

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How Does Sexual Satisfaction Change Over Time in Relationships?

How Does Sexual Satisfaction Change Over Time in Relationships?

What happens to sexual satisfaction over the course of time in a romantic relationship? Does it increase as partners learn how to pleasure each other? Or does it decrease as those initial feelings of passion subside?

Previous research has led to conflicting conclusions. In addition, most of the studies in this area suffer from major limitations. Perhaps the biggest is a persistent focus on cross-sectional rather than longitudinal data (i.e., looking at data from just one snapshot in time, as opposed to tracking actual changes in satisfaction over a period of months or years). Moreover, a lot of the research is based on non-representative samples (e.g., focusing only on young adults or college students).

A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior addresses these main shortcomings in an attempt to perhaps provide a more definitive answer to the question of how sexual satisfaction changes with relationship duration.

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Do Orgasms Help Women Identify High Quality Mates?

Do Orgasms Help Women Identify High Quality Mates?

A woman of reproductive age has the potential to become pregnant from vaginal intercourse regardless of whether she experiences an orgasm. This fact has prompted an ongoing debate about the purpose of the female orgasm. If it is not essential to reproduction, then why does it occur? Numerous theories exist. To name a few, some have argued that the female orgasm is a “sperm retention mechanism," while others have claimed that it has no purpose and is just a “fantastic bonus.” One additional theory that has received an increasing amount of research attention is that perhaps orgasms serve as a feedback mechanism that provides women with information about the reproductive potential and quality of their partners. A new study just published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology provides some support for this idea

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Lesbians May Have Sex Less Often, But When They Do It, They Make It Count

Lesbians May Have Sex Less Often, But When They Do It, They Make It Count

Over the past 30 years, much has been said and written about “lesbian bed death,” or the idea that long-term romantic relationships between women tend to be characterized by rather inactive sex lives. This originally stemmed from an observation in national survey data that female same-sex couples have a lower sexual frequency than both mixed-sex (male-female) couples and male same-sex couples [1], a finding that has been replicated many times since. However, some scholars have been critical of using these results to support the existence of “lesbian bed death” because they fail to take into account how much time women in same-sex relationships actually spend on each sexual event. Is it possible that lower sexual frequency in female-female relationships might be offset by a longer duration of sexual activity? A new study published in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality suggests that this might just be the case [2].

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Spooning After Sex Might Be Good For Your Relationship

Spooning After Sex Might Be Good For Your Relationship

Post-sex behaviors are highly variable from one person to the next. Some of us spoon or cuddle, some of us go right to sleep, and some of us get up to have a sandwich. But does what you do after sex matter? A new set of studies published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that, at least for people in relationships, it might. Specifically, the more that couples spoon and express affection after sex, the happier they tend to be.

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Can Changing Your Birth Control Routine Affect The Quality Of Your Sex Life?

Can Changing Your Birth Control Routine Affect The Quality Of Your Sex Life?

A growing amount of research suggests that what heterosexual women find attractive in men changes across the menstrual cycle. Specifically, women tend to report greater attraction to masculine-looking and -acting guys when they’re ovulating, supposedly because these traits are signs of better genes and, therefore, a greater chance of fathering babies who will survive. Because these ovulatory shifts in mating preferences are wiped out when women take hormonal contraceptives, scientists have begun to wonder what implications this might have for women’s sex lives and relationships. In particular, what happens if a woman starts a relationship with a guy she met while she was on the pill and later decides to go off the pill? Are the subsequent hormonal changes she experiences linked to any changes in her relationship? According to a new study published in Psychological Science, the answer appears to be yes.

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Sex Question Friday: How Sexually Active Are Older Adults?

Sex Question Friday: How Sexually Active Are Older Adults?

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 more about what happens to our sex lives as we age.

Can you still have sex and enjoy it when you’re old?

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Sex Question Friday: Is Sex Better If You Do It With Someone You Love?

Sex Question Friday: Is Sex Better If You Do It With Someone You Love?

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 the quality of the sex you have depends upon how you feel about your partner.

I have often heard sex is better with someone you love, always from people who have had many sexual partners, so I am wondering is sex really more pleasurable with someone you love?

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What Does A Woman’s Body Image Say About Her Sex Life?

What Does A Woman’s Body Image Say About Her Sex Life?

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.

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