Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sex, Drugs and Dating Make Teens Feel Older

A Canadian study has confirmed what parents have long suspected: dating, sexual activity and substance use seem to make teens feel older than they really are. And, as adolescents get older, the gap between their chronological age and their self-perceived age widens.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, with assistance from the University of Victoria, surveyed a random sample of nearly 700 adolescents from a medium-sized North American city and asked them questions about dating, sexual experience, smoking, alcohol and drug use. The participants, males and females between 12 to 19 years of age, were also asked how old they felt compared to their same-sex peers. Survey results indicated that, as is typical for teens, the sample felt older than their chronological age.

Kelly Arbeau, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Alberta and co-author of the study, explained that she and her fellow researchers set out to find what’s behind the discrepancy between how old teens feel and how old they really are.

“We found that specific behaviors do have an effect on adolescents’ self-perceived age,” said Arbeau. “For example, having an older dating partner seems to give a teen a higher subjective experience of age.”

Sexual activity, especially starting at an earlier age, was found to have an important relationship to teens’ subjective experience of age (SEA). “Sexual experience is unequivocally the realm of adult behavior,” Arbeau explained. “So, when teens are having sex and their peers aren’t, it can make them feel more adult, more mature than their non-experienced counterparts.”

Smoking (in boys), higher alcohol use and higher drug use were also related to an older SEA. These results suggest an increasing discrepancy between SEA and chronological age across the teen years as young people experience the normative changes associated with adolescence. People in their 20s feel about the age they are or slightly older, but after age 30 and into old age, the average person has an SEA that is younger than his or her chronological age. Adolescence is the only point in the lifespan during which individuals consistently feel older than they are chronologically.

As for the popular wisdom that girls mature earlier than boys, the results of the study seem to support that, with girls more likely to feel older than are boys. This may shed some light on why companies are more likely to target teen girls than teen boys with products once considered only for adults.

Sex, Drugs and Alcohol Popular with Some Teens

Parents who think their teens’ online conversations with their peers are innocent may want to reconsider. A new Caron Treatment Centers qualitative study conducted by Nielsen Buzzmetrics found that 1 in 10 messages analyzed involved teens seeking advice from their peers on how to take illicit drugs “safely” and without getting caught. The messages were posted on common online message boards, forums and social networks, such as MySpace.com, ym.com and teenspot.com, among others.

The study also found that in messages about alcohol, hooking up and having sex when drinking were the top behaviors discussed by teens. While a few teens expressed regret over things they did while drunk, many chalked it up to “fun,” “being wasted” and “having a good time.” While both genders discussed hooking up and sex, more girls than boys talked about it, where gender was identifiable.

More than 160,000 of the 10.3 million messages posted by teens were about drugs or alcohol. Despite increased focus on drug trends, such as abuse of prescription medications like oxycontin and club favorites like ecstasy, less “trendy” substances were more commonly discussed. Almost 80 percent of the messages posted by teens mentioned alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and acid/LSD.

“While much attention has been given to adult sexual predators preying on teens online, it’s important for parents to know that their teen’s conversations with peers can be equally dangerous,” said David Rotenberg, executive director of Adolescent Services at Caron, the industry’s leading authority on adolescent addiction treatment. “This study and our teen glossary will provide parents with the tools needed to better understand how to talk to their teens about drugs and alcohol.”

Caron’s review of online teen talk around alcohol and drugs was prompted by concerns from adolescent counselors at the Pennsylvania-based rehab facility. Teens mentioned how easily and freely they could chat with peers online about drugs and alcohol – and how falling in with the wrong “virtual crowd” often proved as destructive as a “real life” group.

“It used to be enough for parents to know their teens’ friends,” said Doug Tieman, President and CEO of Caron. “However, the online revolution requires parents to be much more sophisticated in terms of understanding not only how their teens are spending time online, but also what they are talking about.”

Other findings from the study include:

Teen Behaviors
Teens confess that they engage in destructive behaviors when under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
---Teens said that parties are more fun when alcohol is available or if they are already drunk. 1 in 10 messages about alcohol featured teens talking about drinking when partying. They frequently mentioned “pre-game,” a popular term used to describe the practice of getting drunk before parties

---The most prevalent theme in marijuana messages was destructive behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, cutting class or self mutilation while high.

Teen Relationships
Teens are concerned about how drugs and alcohol affect their relationships with family and friends.

--In those messages that gender was identifiable, more girls than boys discussed alcohol online. Girls talked about romantic relationships and hooking up/having sex when drinking. Boys shared information and stories about drunken experiences.

--Teens were concerned about friends and loved ones who are drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana (This was the second most prevalent marijuana discussion and the sixth most prevalent alcohol discussion). More girls than boys voiced their concern, generally for a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sex, drugs and dating make teens feel older

A Canadian study has confirmed what parents have long suspected: dating, sexual activity and substance use seem to make teens feel older than they really are. And, as adolescents get older, the gap between their chronological age and their self-perceived age widens.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, with assistance from the University of Victoria, surveyed a random sample of nearly 700 adolescents from a medium-sized North American city and asked them questions about dating, sexual experience, smoking, alcohol and drug use. The participants, males and females between 12 to 19 years of age, were also asked how old they felt compared to their same-sex peers. Survey results indicated that, as is typical for teens, the sample felt older than their chronological age.

Kelly Arbeau, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Alberta and co-author of the study, explained that she and her fellow researchers set out to find what’s behind the discrepancy between how old teens feel and how old they really are.

“We found that specific behaviors do have an effect on adolescents’ self-perceived age,” said Arbeau. “For example, having an older dating partner seems to give a teen a higher subjective experience of age.”

Sexual activity, especially starting at an earlier age, was found to have an important relationship to teens’ subjective experience of age (SEA). “Sexual experience is unequivocally the realm of adult behavior,” Arbeau explained. “So, when teens are having sex and their peers aren’t, it can make them feel more adult, more mature than their non-experienced counterparts.”

Smoking (in boys), higher alcohol use and higher drug use were also related to an older SEA. These results suggest an increasing discrepancy between SEA and chronological age across the teen years as young people experience the normative changes associated with adolescence. People in their 20s feel about the age they are or slightly older, but after age 30 and into old age, the average person has an SEA that is younger than his or her chronological age. Adolescence is the only point in the lifespan during which individuals consistently feel older than they are chronologically.

As for the popular wisdom that girls mature earlier than boys, the results of the study seem to support that, with girls more likely to feel older than are boys. This may shed some light on why companies are more likely to target teen girls than teen boys with products once considered only for adults.

The study appears in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of Adolescence.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Circumcision Removes the Most Sensitive Parts?

Does Circumcision Remove the Most Sensitive Parts of the Penis?

The most common medical procedure in the US is infant male circumcision. The long-term-health impact of neo-natal circumcision has received little study while the consequences of circumcision on sexual function in the adult male have received even less attention.

A recent study by M. Sorrels and colleagues from the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Center and Michigan State University mapped the fine-touch pressure thresholds of the adult male penis in circumcised and uncircumcised men and compared the two populations. The study is published in the April 2007 issue of BJU Int.

Adult male volunteers were evaluated with a 19 point Semmes-Weinstein monofilament touch-test to map fine-touch pressure thresholds of the penis. Circumcised and uncircumcised men were compared using mixed models for repeated data, controlling for age, type of underwear worn, time since test ejaculation, ethnicity, country of birth, and level of education.

Analysis of results showed the glans of the uncircumcised men had significantly lower thresholds than that of circumcised men (P = 0.040). There were also significant differences in pressure thresholds by location on the penis (p < 0.0001). The most sensitive location on the circumcised penis was the circumcision scar on the ventral surface. It was remarkable that five locations on the uncircumcised penis that are routinely removed at circumcision had lower pressure thresholds that the ventral scar of the circumcised penis.

This study suggests that the transitional region from the external to the internal prepuce is the most sensitive region of the uncircumcised penis and more sensitive than the most sensitive region of the circumcised penis. It appears that circumcision ablates the most sensitive parts of the penis.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sexual Attitudes Differ Whether One Is in or Outside of a Relationship

So long, Venus and Mars: Once they become a couple, men and women are from the same planet, a new University of Florida study finds.

The study confirms that men are more preoccupied with sex than women are, but both genders get in touch with their inner feelings when they bond in an intimate relationship.

"Men experience a lot of pressure in our society to have sex with a number of different partners, the opposite of what women experience as kind of the gatekeepers of sexuality," said Paul Perrin, a UF graduate student in psychology and one of the study's researchers. "Once they enter a relationship, however, the pressure on men to have sex is not as strong and the pressure on women to not have sex goes away."

Expected gender roles give way to partners' romantic feelings for each other, which turn out to be a lot stronger than society's roles for them, he said.

"People in romantic relationships give more importance to their own feelings and their partners' than they do to social expectations about sexual behavior," he said.

The study, titled 'My Place or Yours?' published in the April edition of the journal Sex Roles, found that men are much more likely than women to find sex personally and physically pleasurable, while women are more inclined to think sex violates social taboos. Too often, these sexually restrictive gender roles become self-fulfilling prophecies, he said.

But the study also found that men and women can change when it comes to conforming to prescribed gender roles. Although men showed significantly greater interest in sex as measured by three of the four categories, when sex was examined in an intimate relationship, men and women were more alike than different, he said.

"One example might be the typical stereotype of a guy in a fraternity who is pressured by his fraternity brothers to sleep with a lot of different women and move on," Perrin said. "If he were in a romantic relationship, he wouldn't feel as much pressure to have sex with multiple partners. Whereas a woman feels freer to engage in sex within a relationship than outside of one because she runs less risk of being called derogatory names and being viewed negatively by a larger society."

The study involved 219 women and 161 men in an introductory psychology course at UF. They answered 160 questions about sexual behavior and attitudes relating to four different areas: whether they considered sex to be personally and physically pleasurable, a benefit in creating positive feelings about oneself, a violation of social injunctions and personally costly in terms of having negative emotional, psychological or physical consequences.

The biggest gender difference was that men were much more likely to find sex personally and physically pleasurable, the study found. "Though not as frequently talked about, gender roles also restrict men to a narrow range of acceptable sexual behavior in the sense that others deem him immature and unmasculine if he doesn't have frequent sex," Perrin said. "Witness the popular 2005 film comedy 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin.'"

Men also were more likely to consider sex to be personally costly, perhaps because they engage in more risky sexual behavior, Perrin said. The more partners and the more sex one has, the more likely one is to see the consequences of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, he said.

"Men in our sample appear to walk a fine line between wanting the risky sex that society says they should have and paying the price for having had it," he said.

Not surprisingly, women were more likely to believe that being sexually active had negative social ramifications, Perrin said. "Women endorsed at higher rates waiting longer to have sex and not engaging in premarital sex, consistent with the notion of women as sexual gatekeepers," he said. "Perhaps women are more interested than men are in waiting for the right person and the right moment to have sex."

But attitudes both for men and women changed when attention shifted to how they felt once they were in a relationship. "Because gender roles have existed for hundreds and hundreds of years, we kind of take them for granted and assume this is the way society is and the way men and women should act," he said. "The biggest implication of this study is that we aren't slave to the gender roles that society imposes on us but have a lot more freedom, especially sexually."

Jim O'Neil, a University of Connecticut professor of family studies and educational psychology, praised the study. "How refreshing to review important empirical research that dispels myths, common stereotypes and casual impressions about men's and women's sexual values and relations," he said.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Viagra Works!

The findings in a new study on Viagra might seem obvious -- the sexual satisfaction of couples involving a male with erectile dysfunction improved significantly when the man took Viagra. The novelty is that researchers cared what the woman thought.

Sex research involving pharmaceutical treatments, unlike treatments involving therapy, often is limited to effects only on the person taking the medication. One should not assume, however, that partners like or dislike a change in sexual functioning.

"The nice thing about this study is that it reminds us that when people engage in a treatment, even taking a pill, it doesn't stop at the edge of their skin. It can, and often does, affect others," said Julia Heiman, lead author of the study and director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. "In this study, changes in one partner were correlated with changes in another. If one partner improved than so did the other."

Here are some of the key findings:

* For the men with erectile problems, the younger they were, the more their sexual satisfaction improved with the use of Viagra.
* For women, those who were generally satisfied in their overall relationship but dissatisfied with their sexual relationship reported greater sexual satisfaction when their partner used Viagra.
* The women whose partners took Viagra reported a significant improvement in their sexual satisfaction and in their arousal and orgasms.
* Men in the Viagra group showed significant improvement/changes in erectile functioning, intercourse satisfaction, overall sexual satisfaction and frequency of intercourse satisfaction. Their orgasm function did not increase significantly.

"We are always interested in the health effects of sexuality, and the motivations for seeking treatment," said Heiman, whose research over the years has examined the development and impact of different sexual treatments on individuals and couples. "Maybe it's the partner's response that is most important in predicting long-term treatment gains as well as general health gains. It would be worthwhile knowing that."

The study, funded by Pfizer, Inc., involved 176 couples in which the male had erectile dysfunction and the female expressed dissatisfaction with their sex life. The male partner in each couple was randomly assigned to either receive Viagra or placebo for 12 weeks, at the end of which 79 Viagra and 76 placebo group couples actually finished the entire study. The mean age for men was 58, with ages ranging from 30 to 86. Most of the women were postmenopausal, with ages ranging from 20 to 79 and an average age of 58.

The study, "Sexual function and satisfaction in heterosexual couples when men are administered sildenafil citrate (Viagra) for erectile dysfunction: a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial," appears in the journal BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The article is available online at: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.01228.x.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Abnormal sexual behaviors while sleeping

Wide range of sleep-related disorders associated with abnormal sexual behaviors, experiences

A paper published in the June 1st issue of the journal SLEEP is the first literature review and formal classification of a wide range of documented sleep-related disorders associated with abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences. These abnormal sexual behaviors, which emerge during sleep, are referred to as "sleepsex" or "sexsomnia".

"It seems that more and more reports are surfacing of abnormal sexual behaviors emerging during sleep," said Carlos H. Schenck, MD, a senior staff psychiatrist at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis and the lead author of the review. "While people may think this type of behavior is humorous, in reality it can be disturbing, annoying, embarrassing and a potentially serious problem for some individuals and couples. Despite their awareness of the condition, many sufferers often delay seeking help, either because they don't know that it's a medical disorder or for fear that others will instead judge it as willful behavior. This paper highlights the expanding set of sleep disorders and other nocturnal disorders known to be associated with abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences, or the misperception of sexual events. The legal consequences are also described and discussed."

Prior to the writing and publication of the review, Dr. Schenck and his colleagues conducted computerized literature searches of peer-reviewed journal articles and looked through textbooks and other sources for information on sexual activity during sleep or sexual behaviors associated with sleep disorders.

The following is a listing of sleep-related disorders and abnormal sexual behaviors and experiences that Dr. Schenck and his colleagues developed from their searches:

I. Parsomnias with abnormal sleep-related sexual behaviors (sexual vocalizations, masturbation, fondling another person, sexual intercourse with or without orgasm, aggressive sexual behaviors)

A. Confusional arousals, or CAs (with or without obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA)
B. Sleepwalking

C. REM sleep behavior disorder

II. Sleep-related sexual seizures (sexual vocalizations, libidinal hyperarousal, genital arousal, ictal orgasm, sexual automatisms, aggressive sexual behaviors)

III. Sleep disorders with abnormal sexual behaviors during wakefulness and wake-sleep transitions

A. Kleine-Levin syndrome (KLS), a rare sleep disorder characterized by recurrent and unusually long episodes of hypersomnia.

1. Broad range of hypersexual and deviant sexual arousal and behaviors

B. Severe chronic insomnia

1. Increased libido, genital arousal, compulsive sexual behaviors

C. Restless legs syndrome

1. Masturbation, rhythmic pelvic/coital-like movements
IV. Special Clinical Considerations

A. Narcolepsy

1. Compelling sexual hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations and REM- onset dream attacks, cataplectic orgasm

B. Sleep exacerbation of persistent sexual arousal syndrome

1. Genital-sensory sexual arousal without increased libidinal arousal; sexual behaviors

C. Sleep-related painful erections and increased sexual activity

1. Increased sexual behaviors – masturbation and intercourse

D. Sleep-related dissociative disorders

1. Pelvic movements and other sexualized behaviors, attempted reenactments of past sexual/physical abuse scenarios

E. Nocturnal psychotic disorders

1. Sexual delusions/hallucinations after awakenings

F. Miscellaneous sleep and sex associations

1. Masturbation, sexual intercourse, sexual hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations with sleep paralysis

Those who think they might have a sleep disorder, with or without a related sexual disorder, are urged to discuss their problem with their primary care physician, who will issue a referral to a sleep specialist.