Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Online daters ignore wish list when choosing a match

Do cyber daters contact their stated perfect match online? It seems not
QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

Despite having a very clear 'wish list' stating their preference for potential ideal matches, most online daters contact people bearing no resemblance to the characteristics they say they want in a mate, according to QUT research.
The finding was revealed in the 'Preference vs Choice in Online Dating' study conducted by QUT behavioural economists Stephen Whyte and Professor Benno Torgler. 
They analysed the online dating preferences and contact behaviour of more than 41,000 Australians aged between 18-80 using data from the online dating website RSVP, with the findings now published by leading international journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.
"We looked at whether or not people actually contact people who match what they say is their ideal partner in their profile, and our findings show they don't. Stating a preference for what you are looking for appears to have little to no bearing on the characteristics of people you actually contact," Mr Whyte said.
"How people go about finding a partner is changing dramatically thanks to the internet. Where once we were limited to settings such as school, work, social gatherings or local night spots, there is a much wider choice at hand online.
"The psychology employed by humans choosing a mate can definitely be environmentally sensitive and the nature of online dating is triggering changes in underlying preferences and decision behavior of those involved.
"Disclosure of 'ideal' partner preferences is a widely offered and commonly-used option for people creating a profile on online dating websites, but whether it's effective or useful in helping people find that special someone is unclear.
"This study provides quite unique findings in that people may state a preference for an ideal partner but they are more than happy to initiate contact with potential love interests that bear no resemblance whatsoever to that 'Mr or Mrs Perfect' they initially think they prefer over all others.
"I think it's really encouraging findings for people searching for that special someone online.
"In our fast-paced world, and with the myriad of options the internet now offers, time spent searching and exploring all available potential partners can be costly."
Mr Whyte said instead of searching until they find the exact match to their stated criteria, people may actually prefer to settle on an acceptable threshold of qualities or characteristics in a potential mate, rather than hold out.
"As Internet and cyber dating continues to grow at a rapid rate further research is required into the decision-making process and the links between stated preferences and actual choice," he said. 
The research is the largest ever behavioural economic analysis of Australian online dating behaviour, with this body of work reviewing 219,013 participant contacts by 41,936 members of RSVP during a four-month period in 2016.
"Our study reviewed the interactions of people whose ages ranged from millennials to octogenarians, which in itself demonstrates how widespread online dating is and how it is changing traditional ways in which people find potential love interests," Mr Whyte said.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Older adults embracing 'living apart together'


Since 1990, the divorce rate among adults 50 years and older has doubled. This trend, along with longer life expectancy, has resulted in many adults forming new partnerships later in life. A new phenomenon called 'Living Apart Together' (LAT)--an intimate relationship without a shared residence--is gaining popularity as an alternative form of commitment. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that while the trend is well understood in Europe, it is lesser known in the U.S. This means that challenges, such as how LAT partners can engage in family caregiving or decision-making, could affect family needs.
"What has long been understood about late-in-life relationships is largely based on long-term marriage," said Jacquelyn Benson, assistant professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. "There are now more divorced and widowed adults who are interested in forging new intimate relationships outside the confines of marriage. Recent research demonstrates that there are other ways of establishing long-lasting, high-quality relationships without committing to marriage or living together. However, U.S. society has yet to recognize LAT as a legitimate choice. If more people--young and old, married or not--saw LAT as an option, it might save them from a lot of future heartache."
Benson and Marilyn Coleman, Curators Professor of Human Development and Family Science, interviewed adults who were at least 60 years old and in committed relationships but lived apart. The researchers found that couples were motivated by desires to stay independent, maintain their own homes, sustain existing family boundaries, and remain financially independent. Couples expressed challenges defining their relationships or choosing terms to properly convey the nature of their relationships to others. For example, the majority considered traditional dating terms such as 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' to be awkward terms to use at their ages.
"While we are learning more about LAT relationships, further research is needed to determine how LAT relationships are related to issues such as health care and caregiving," Benson said. "Discussions about end-of-life planning and caregiving can be sensitive to talk about; however, LAT couples should make it a priority to have these conversations both as a couple and with their families. Many of us wait until a crisis to address those issues, but in situations like LAT where there are no socially prescribed norms dictating behavior these conversations may be more important than ever."

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Men and women are not that different with respect to age preferences of sexual partners




The difference between men and women with respect to their age preferences, when it comes to sexual partners, is smaller than earlier believed. A recent study shows that also men become interested in older and older women as they themselves age. 
While earlier research has indicated that even older men prefer young women, a recent study by Jan Antfolk at Åbo Akademi University suggests that this is only partly true. It is true that men, more than women, tend to maintain a sexual interest in younger partners. Contrary to what has been reported from earlier studies, most men and women are also sexually interested in partners their own age throughout life. Most sexual activity occurs between partners of approximately the same age.
Homosexual and bisexual men and women differ very little from their heterosexual counterparts. The only exception from this is that homosexual men are somewhat more likely than bisexual and heterosexual men to have sex with partners younger than themselves. 
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The study was conducted in Finland and included 878 adult men and 1789 adult women. The study was recently published in Evolutionary Psychology

Friday, January 20, 2017

HPV prevalence rates among US men, vaccination coverage

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, as well as a cause of various cancers, and a new study published online by JAMA Oncology estimates the overall prevalence of genital HPV infection in men ages 18 to 59.


Male HPV vaccination programs have been available to the public since 2009 and the vaccination rate remains low in the United States.
Jasmine J. Han, M.D., of the Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C., and coauthors used data for 1,868 men from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2013-2014. Samples were self-collected from penile swabs for HPV genotyping testing.
The overall genital HPV infection prevalence was 45.2 percent. In vaccine-eligible men, HPV vaccination coverage was 10.7 percent, according to the article.
The lowest prevalence was 28.9 percent among men 18 to 22, which increased to 46.5 percent in the 23 to 27 age group and then remained high and constant in older age groups, the study reports. The authors suggest the finding may reflect the current practice of giving HPV vaccination to younger male age groups. 
The study was cross-sectional, meaning it used data from one specific time and therefore cannot establish causality.
"The overall genital HPV infection prevalence appears to be widespread among all age groups of men and the HPV vaccination coverage is low," the article concludes.


One night stand regrets


Have you ever ended up in bed with someone without it turning into anything more? You're far from alone.
The numbers vary a lot with sources and countries, but a rather safe bet is that around half of people in Western Europe and the USA will have at least one one-night stand. In some countries maybe as many as 7 out of 10.
But how men and women experience the "morning after" varies greatly between the sexes.
"Women regret that they agreed to a one-night stand more often than men. Men regret passing up the chance more than women," says Professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Psychology.
These are the results of a previous American study. Kennair and Associate Professor Mons Bendixen wanted to see whether this is also true in Norway, which is supposedly a more sexually liberal and egalitarian country. They also wanted to try and find out why the results varied so much by gender. The Norwegian researchers collaborated with evolutionary psychologist David Buss of the University of Texas at Austin.
Same differences in Norway
Kennair, Bendixen and Buss found exactly the same pattern in Norway as in the U.S.
A larger proportion of women than men regretted the last time they had casual sex. Around 35 per cent of women and only 20 per cent of men regretted the experience to some degree.
"So we're not saying that there aren't men who regret casual sex," says Kennair.
But it is far more common for women to regret saying yes. They are also less unequivocally happy about the experience.
About 30 per cent of women in Norway were happy about their most recent casual sex experience, as were over 50 per cent of the men, according to Bendixen.
Only men regret saying no
At the same time, nearly 80 per cent of women were happy that they said no to casual sex last time. Only 43 per cent of men were totally happy that they passed it up.
"Women regretted having a one-night stand the most, but they weren't sorry about saying no at all, says Kennair.
But that's not the biggest difference. Very few women regretted saying no. But nearly 30 per cent of the men regretted not having casual sex, according to Bendixen.
Several possible explanations
Women worry more than men generally, and they worry about more than just casual sex. As Kennair sums it up, men do stupid things that they die from. Fewer women do these stupid things.
But this basic phenomenon does not change the study's main conclusion that women and men react so differently to one-night stands.
So why such dramatic gender differences in regret?
The researchers found no difference in regret between those who were single and those who were in a relationship, so they did not take partner status into account in their further analyses.
However, they did examine several possible reasons for regret, such as pregnancy concerns, STD infections and getting a bad reputation.
Across the board, women worry more about all these factors. But this doesn't explain why Norwegian women regretted casual sex so much more than men did, though, said Bendixen and Kennair.
And worry was certainly not the reason why virtually only men regretted saying no.
Less sexual gratification for women?
It's conceivable that women feel more regretful because they do not get as much sexual pleasure out of a one-night stand as men do. Maybe they regret it more because they don't have an orgasm?
This idea led the researchers to also ask whether participants achieved an orgasm or not.
Not surprisingly, men had orgasms during sex to a far greater extent than women the last time they had casual sex. But at the same time, the results show that far fewer women than men think orgasm is particularly important.
Both women and men are more regretful about one-night stands that did not end in orgasm for them. But overall, lack of sexual satisfaction does not seem to play into why women regret the experience more often than men.
"Men enjoy casual sex considerably more, but this doesn't explain the gender difference in regret, because gender is the most important influencing factor for both orgasm probability and sexual regret after casual sex," says Professor Kennair.
So what can be the reason?
Basic difference
An overall explanation presumably lies in the fundamental differences between men and women.
The study results support theories of parental investment and sexual strategy: men and women have throughout generations invested differently in their relationships and any children that resulted.
We're talking evolution psychology here.
All of us are descendants of individuals who managed to reproduce. Passing our genes on to the next generation as effectively as possible is the ultimate biological goal for everyone. If you don't, your genes die out eventually.
Through evolution, nature weeds out what is not working. But when it comes to short-term sex, the best strategy is fundamentally different for men and women.
"Due to selective pressure from the big difference in parental investment, one would expect men and women to regret different aspects of casual sex decisions - having casual sex with the wrong partner versus missing a casual sexual opportunity," notes the article about the study published in Evolutionary Psychology.
This might require an explanation.
Men are limited by access
Men can theoretically father thousands of children and are primarily limited, at least in theory for most of us, by the supply of willing, fertile women. Men who could reproduce freely would be able to afford having some of the kids fail to multiply as long as most functioned serviceably.
"Women and men differ fundamentally in their sexual psychology," says Professor Buss. "A key limitation on men's reproductive success, historically, has been sexual access to fertile women. These evolutionary selection pressures have created a male sexual mind that is attentive to sexual opportunities."
The quality of one's sexual partner in short-term relationships plays a lesser role biologically for men. Assuming women did not avoid having sex with them, men who ran from woman to woman and got them pregnant would have scored best in the evolutionary race.
"The winner takes them all," says Kennair with a smile.
Few men have such unlimited access to the other sex, but quantity over quality has been the main strategy for men in general.
Consider this example. A married man with two children, historically, could have increased his reproductive success by a full 50 percent by impregnating one other woman.
Men do not think about these things consciously, of course. Rather, men's sexual psychology is highly attuned to sexual opportunities and they experience regret at missed sexual opportunities.
Women see it differently. Partner quality has been far more important to them.
Women have the most to lose
Our ancestral mothers rarely could have increased their reproductive success by adding additional sex partners.
Women can seldom have more than 10-15 children during their lifetime, no matter how much they try. Obviously most women today bear far fewer children than that. The quality of the children, and thus the quality of the sexual partner who contributes to the children's genes, is far more important for women than for men.
"Female choice--deciding when, where, and with whom to have sex-- is perhaps the most fundamental principle of women's sexual psychology," says Dr. Buss.
For a woman, an ideal partner helps raise their children in order to give the next generation the best possible conditions to reproduce.
For most women through the generations, it has been important to secure a partner of high quality who was willing to invest more in their children together, and who did not waste resources by getting involved with other women and their potential children.
Thus it is quite natural that women regret casual sex much more with a man who is not an ideal partner. Women have for generations had much more to lose.
Culture does not change biology
Of course, most Norwegian women manage much better on their own today than they did even a few generations ago.
Many of the ancestral conditions that created these fundamentally different male and female sexual psychologies are no longer with us, especially in Norway.
Men are less important than they were in the past for providing resources to children. Women earn their own money, society offers various support schemes, and women are largely able to raise children without appreciably involving a man beyond the actual fertilization.
In sexually liberal countries one's reputation is not necessarily harmed in the same way as it once might have been by having casual sex. Effective contraceptives that women have control over also reduce the risk of getting pregnant with a partner who is less than ideal. But the fear of getting pregnant with a less suitable partner can still hang on, consciously or not. So can the fear of a bad reputation.
"Many social scientists expect that in sexually egalitarian cultures such as Norway, these sex differences would disappear. They do not. This fact makes the findings on sex differences in sexual regret in modern Norwegian people so fascinating scientifically," says Dr. Buss.
New cultural changes, it turns out, do not alter our biological foundation. Evolution doesn't work that way. The underlying gender differences in parental investment in offspring and the way we act do not change within a few generations.
Our evolved sexual psychology is the only one we have. It operates in the modern world as much as our evolved food preferences, whether or not it is currently adaptive.
The study participants consisted of 263 students aged 19 to 37 years. All had at least one one-night stand behind them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Commercial brand of mouthwash can help kill off gonorrhea in the mouth


A commercial brand of mouthwash that is readily available from supermarkets and pharmacies can help curb the growth of the bacteria responsible for gonorrhoea, reveals preliminary research published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Daily rinsing and gargling with the product might be a cheap and easy way of helping to control the spread of the infection, suggest the researchers.

New cases of gonorrhoea among men are on the rise in many countries amid declining condom use, with the bulk of cases among gay/bisexual men, say the researchers.

Rising rates of gonorrhoea heighten the risk of the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of Neisseria gonnorhoeae, the bacteria responsible for the infection, making the need for a preventive measure that doesn't rely on condoms even more urgent, they say.

As far back as 1879, and before the advent of antibiotics, the manufacturer of Listerine, a commercial brand of mouthwash, claimed that it could be used to cure gonorrhoea. But no published research has tested out this claim.

In a bid to rectify this, the researchers assessed whether Listerine could curb the growth of N. gonorrhoeae in laboratory tests and in sexually active gay/bisexual men in a clinical trial.

For the laboratory tests, different dilutions (up to 1:32) of Listerine Cool Mint and Total Care, both of which contain 21.6% alcohol, were applied to cultures of N. gonorrhoeae to see which of any of them might curb growth of the bacteria. By way of a comparison, a salt water (saline) solution was similarly applied to an identical set of cultures.

Listerine at dilutions of up to 1 in 4, applied for 1 minute, significantly reduced the number of N. gonorrhoeae on the culture plates, whereas the saline solution did not.

The clinical trial involved 196 gay/bisexual men who had previously tested positive for gonorrhoea in their mouths/throat, and who were returning for treatment at one sexual health clinic in Melbourne, Australia, between May 2015 and February 2016.

Almost a third (30%; 58) tested positive for the bacteria in their throat on the return visit.

Thirty three of these men were randomly assigned to a rinse and gargle with Listerine and 25 of them to a rinse and gargle with the saline solution.

After rinsing and gargling for 1 minute, the proportion of viable gonorrhoea in the throat was 52% among the men using Listerine compared with 84% among those using saline.

And the men using Listerine were 80% less likely to test positive for gonorrhoea in their throat five minutes after gargling than were the men using the saline solution.

The researchers admit that the monitoring period was short, so the possibility that the effects of the mouthwash might be short-lived can't be ruled out. But the laboratory test results would suggest otherwise, they say.

This research is preliminary, so a larger trial is currently under way to confirm these results and see whether the use of mouthwash could curb the spread of gonorrhoea, they say.

"If daily use of mouthwash was shown to reduce the duration of untreated infection and/or reduce the probability of acquisition of N. gonorrhoeae, then this readily available, condom-less, and low cost intervention may have very significant public health implications in the control of gonorrhoea in [men who have sex with men]," write the researchers.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

New study busts the myth that contraceptives curb desire -- other factors like age and length of relationship are more important


Taking the pill your sexual desire, contrary to popular belief,  according to research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The authors of the research, from the University of Kentucky and Indiana University in the US, say the evidence explaining what affects women's sexual desire is mixed and more research is needed.
Contraceptives are designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies and, for some, to protect people from sexually transmitted infections. A very popular anecdote is that using contraceptives - particularly oral hormone contraceptives, the pill - decreases desire. But so far, scientific evidence has been mixed, with some studies supporting the claim and others suggesting the opposite.
In their paper, Dr. Kristen Mark and her colleagues describe two studies they carried out to explore the impact of using different contraceptives on the sexual desire of women and men in relationships.
"We wanted to understand the link between desire and contraceptive choice, especially in the context of longer-term relationships," said Dr. Mark. "Most research doesn't focus on partners or people in long-term relationships but many contraceptive users are in long-term monogamous relationships, so this is an important group to study."
They looked at the impact of three different contraceptive types - oral hormonal contraceptive, other hormonal contraceptive and non-hormonal contraceptive - on the desire of couples in heterosexual relationships of varying lengths. They measured solitary and dyadic sexual desire - that is, libido alone or with a partner - of more than 900 people using a tool called the Sexual Desire Inventory.
The findings revealed significant differences in the way contraceptives affected the desire of women alone and in their relationships: women on non-hormonal contraceptives reported higher desire on their own and women on oral contraceptives reported higher desire with their partner. 
However, when the researchers adjusted the results to take into account relationship length and age, the differences were no longer significant, suggesting that it's the context rather than the contraceptive type that has the biggest impact on desire.
"Sometimes women are looking for something to explain changes in their sexual desire, which is not fixed throughout her life," Dr. Mark said. "The message that hormonal pills decrease desire is really prevalent. In my undergrad classes my students often say they hear the pill makes you not want sex, "so what's the point?" Our findings are clear: the pill doesn't kill desire. This research helps to bust those myths and hopefully eventually get rid of this common cultural script in our society."
Looking at contextual factors seems to be a better way of predicting sexual desire in women in long-term relationships than looking at contraceptive use. As such, Dr. Mark is now studying additional contextual factors related to desire discrepancy, where one member of the couple has lower or higher sexual desire relative to their partner. 
"By continuing to unravel the mysteries behind the inaccurate anecdotes out there, I hope we can help women understand - and address - changes in their sexual desire."