Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Friends' behavior and parental values influence rates of unprotected vaginal intercourse among teens



The attitudes of both friends and parents towards contraception and vaginal intercourse have an impact on later adolescent sexual behavior, according to a new study. This is important information because, in 2001, unintended pregnancies accounted for more than 75 percent of all pregnancies in women under 24 years old. Furthermore, a 1-year delay is typical between when adolescent girls begin sexual activity and when they seek out contraceptive services. The researchers analyzed factors influencing a main outcome of unprotected vaginal intercourse, based on two sets of interviews a year apart (mean age 15.7 years for the first interview and 16.3 years for the second).

A teen who reported at the initial interview having a friend who engaged in sexual intercourse, either with or without protection against pregnancy, doubled the risk that the teen would report at follow-up having had unprotected vaginal intercourse versus never having had intercourse. Teens who had a distant relationship with their fathers were 2.4 times more likely than those with a close paternal relationship to report at follow-up having had unprotected intercourse versus never having had intercourse.

Parental attitudes towards teens having intercourse or towards use of contraception did not significantly influence the behavior of teens at follow-up at 16 years of age. This is consistent with the hypothesis that parental attitudes were most influential before the teens reached 15 years of age. Nor was there a significant effect on the risk of having had unprotected intercourse by follow-up of teens' own attitude towards adolescent pregnancy or their confidence in being able to use contraception. The findings were based on analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, with baseline interviews of 6,649 teens conducted in 1995 and follow-up interviews with 3,899 teens in 1996. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15491).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sexual satisfaction tied to overall 'successful aging' as reported by women age 60 to 89

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A study by researchers at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego finds that successful aging and positive quality of life indicators correlate with sexual satisfaction in older women. The report, published online in the August edition of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, also shows that self-rated successful aging, quality of life and sexual satisfaction appear to be stable even in the face of declines in physical health of women between the ages of 60 and 89.

The study looked at 1,235 women enrolled at the San Diego site of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, a major ongoing research program funded by the National Institutes of Health which, since 1993, has addressed causes of death, disability and quality of life in more than 160,000 generally healthy, post-menopausal women.

As the researchers expected, sexual activity and functioning (such things as desire, arousal and ability to climax) were negatively associated with age, as were physical and mental health. However, in contrast to sexual activity and functioning, satisfaction with overall sex life was not significantly different between the three age cohorts studied: age 60 to 69; 70 to 70; and 80 to 89. Approximately 67 percent, 60 percent, and 61 percent of women in these three age groups, respectively, reported that they were "moderately" to "very satisfied" with their sex lives.

"Contrary to our earlier hypothesis, sexual satisfaction was not significantly associated with age," said Wesley K. Thompson, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry with the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, and co-lead author along with UC San Diego medical student Lindsey Charo, BA. "Although the levels of sexual activity and functioning did vary significantly, depending on the woman's age, their perceived quality of life, successful aging and sexual satisfaction remained positive."

Sexual activity was significantly lower in older age cohorts. Of the women who were married or in an intimate relationship, 70 percent of those aged 60 to 69, 57 percent of those aged 70 to 79, and 31 percent of those aged 80 to 89 reported having had some sexual activity in the previous six months. While women who were married or living in an intimate relationship engaged in higher rates of sexual activity than those who were not in such a relationship, sexual activity still decreased across age cohorts.

The findings of this study confirm earlier published research from the UCSD Stein Institute suggesting that self-rated health changes little with age even when objective health indicators show age-associated decline.

"What this study tells us is that many older adults retain their ability to enjoy sex well into old age," said Thompson. "This is especially true of older adults who maintain a higher level of physical and mental health as they grow older. Furthermore, feeling satisfied with your sex life - whatever your levels of sexual activity - is closely related to your perceived quality of life." He added that "while we cannot assess cause and effect from this study, these results suggest that maintaining a high level of sexual satisfaction may positively reinforce other psychological aspects of successful aging."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When erectile dysfunction isn't whole story


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For men with erectile dysfunction (ED), 65 percent are unable to have an orgasm and 58 percent have problems with ejaculation, according to new research led by physician-scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The study followed 12,130 men with mild to severe ED and is the largest-ever analysis of orgasmic and ejaculatory dysfunction. Results are published in today's edition of the British Journal of Urology International.

Approximately 30 million American men, or half of all men aged 40 to 70, have trouble achieving or sustaining an erection. "While medications like Viagra or Cialis have been successful in helping many of these men, our research suggests there are other common sexual issues that remain largely unaddressed," says Dr. Darius Paduch, the study's lead author; male sexual medicine specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center; and assistant professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"We must expand the definition of quality of life when it comes to sexual performance," Dr. Paduch adds. "For the last few decades, we have focused on penile rigidity, with erection as a synonym of normal sexual function. However, many patients say that problems with ejaculation -- like decreased force or volume or decreased sensation of orgasm -- are just as critical.

"Despite the frequency of these issues, non-erectile sexual dysfunction is underreported and undertreated due to social stigma and misunderstandings about the physiology of male sexual response and orgasmic dysfunction in particular. For decades it was believed that only women had problems with orgasm; our study shows that orgasmic dysfunction could be as prevalent among men as it is among women."

While severity of dysfunctional ejaculation and orgasm correlated with ED severity, says Dr. Paduch, these issues were still surprisingly common in men with very mild ED: Orgasm dysfunction was reported by 26 percent in this group, and ejaculation dysfunction by 18 percent. "This suggests that non-erectile sexual dysfunction is a regular occurrence even in men without ED."

The study reported factors associated with increased risk of ejaculatory and orgasmic dysfunction which includes commonly prescribed antidepressant medications. Ejaculatory and orgasmic dysfunction can be caused by low testosterone and minor brain injury such as that sustained by motor vehicle accident victims, football players suffering from concussion, or by soldiers with combat-related blast head injuries.

The most common ejaculatory dysfunction is premature ejaculation, but the condition also describes delayed ejaculation, inability to ejaculate, painful ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation, as well as a reduced volume of ejaculate or diminished force of ejaculation. Orgasm dysfunction is defined as absence of an orgasm.

In the current study, Dr. Paduch and Alexander Bolyakov, a research associate at Weill Cornell Medical College, in collaboration with a research team from Eli Lilly and Company, analyzed questionnaires from 28 clinical trials of men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction from a diverse, international cohort of patients enrolled in clinical trials for tadalafil (Cialis).

The study was supported by an educational grant from Eli Lilly and Company. Dr. Paduch and Bolyakov are paid investigators and/or consultants/advisers/speakers for the study sponsor. Additional co-authors included Dr. Anthony Beardsworth and Steven D. Watts -- both from Eli Lilly.

Going forward, Dr. Paduch and Bolyakov will use uniquely specialized equipment available in their lab at Weill Cornell to measure biological and subjective changes that occur in men during orgasm and ejaculation. They will look at whether testosterone-replacement therapy can help men who suffer from non-erectile sexual dysfunction.

"Sexual satisfaction is known to be linked to the likelihood of orgasm, which in turn affects emotional intimacy and relationship satisfaction. The high prevalence of both orgasmic and ejaculatory dysfunction warrants further clinical and translational research into new treatments to improve sexual health and overall quality of life for hundreds of thousands of affected men and their loved ones," says Dr. Paduch.

Sexist men and women - made for each other

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Men with a preference for 'one-night stands' and negative sexist attitudes towards women are more likely to use aggressive courtship strategies. They compete with other men who are also interested in the woman, tease the woman, and isolate her away from her friends. In response, women with a preference for 'no strings attached' sex and negative attitudes towards other wom-en are more likely to respond to men's aggressive strategies. These findings by Jeffrey Hall and Melanie Canterberry, from the University of Kansas in the US, are published online in Springer's journal Sex Roles.
Hall and Canterberry set out to understand the characteristics of men who use aggressive court-ship strategies, based on speed seduction techniques described in the US bestseller "The Game" by Neil Strauss and the popular cable TV program "The Pickup Artist". They also studied the characteristics of women who find such strategies appealing.

The researchers conducted two surveys. The first pilot study surveyed a sample of 363 college students from a large Midwestern university in the US. The second, larger national study recruited 850 adult volunteers via the internet. The authors asked both male and female participants about their sexist attitudes toward women and whether they were willing to take part in uncommitted or short-term sex. They also asked about the extent to which men used assertive strategies to in-itiate relationships and the extent to which women found these approaches desirable.

The results showed that men who were keen on 'one-night stands' were more likely to use aggressive strategies when flirting with women, and women who were also open to casual sex were more likely to respond to this type of aggressive courtship. In addition, men with negative, sexist attitudes towards women, justifying male privilege, were more likely to use assertive strategies, which may serve to 'put women in their place' in a submissive or yielding role during courtship. Women with sexist attitudes towards members of their own gender were more likely to be responsive to men's assertive strategies. This suggests that they find men who treat them in a dominant way during courtship more desirable, because it is consistent with their sexist ideology.

Hall and Canterberry conclude: "Our results suggest that assertive courtship strategies are a form of mutual identification of similarly sexist attitudes shared between courtship partners. Women who adopt sexist attitudes are more likely to prefer men who adopt similar attitudes. Not only do sexist men and women prefer partners who are like them, they prefer courtship strategies where men are the aggressors and women are the gatekeepers."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Friendship, timing key differences between US, Eastern European love

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The importance of friendship in romantic love and the time it takes to perceive falling in love are two key differences in how residents in the US, Lithuania and Russia see romantic love, according to a study recently published in Cross-Cultural Research, a SAGE journal: "Cross-Cultural Analysis of Models of Romantic Love Among U.S. Residents, Russians, and Lithuanians."

The study examined how men and women defined romantic love through the use of surveys and used the results to find some commonalities and differences among the countries. Researchers found that residents of all three countries listed "being together" as their top requirement of romantic love. From there, the notion of romantic love seemed to diverge with the US respondents having different views than Lithuanian and Russian counterparts.

"The idea that romantic love was temporary and inconsequential was frequently cited by Lithuanian and Russian informants," wrote authors Victor C. de Munck, Andrey Korotayev, Janina de Munck and Darya Khaltourina. "but not by U.S. informants. Furthermore, we noted that expressions of 'comfort /love' and 'friendship' were frequently cited by the U.S. informants and seldom to never by our Eastern European informants."

Additionally, the data looked at how long it took before respondents fell in love. Americans took longer than their Eastern European counterparts with more than 58 percent saying it look two months to a year. On the contrary, more than 90 percent of Lithuanians report falling in love within a month.


Monday, August 15, 2011

CONFLICT LEVELS DON’T CHANGE MUCH OVER COURSE OF MARRIAGE



Think about how much you fight and argue with your spouse today. A new study suggests that your current level of conflict probably won’t change much for the remainder of your marriage.

That may be good news for the 16 percent of couples who report little conflict or even the 60 percent who have only moderate levels of conflict. But it’s not such happy news for the 22 percent of couples who say they fight and argue with each other a lot.

The study followed nearly 1,000 couples over 20 years, from 1980 to 2000.

“There wasn’t much change in conflict over time,” said Claire Kamp Dush, lead author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.


Claire Kamp Dush
“There was a very slight decrease in the amount of conflict reported in the final years of the study, which was slightly larger for the high-conflict couples. Still, the differences over time were small.”

Kamp Dush conducted the study with Miles Taylor of Florida State University. The results appear online in the Journal of Family Issues and will be published in a future print edition.

The researchers used data from the Marital Instability Over the Life Course survey, conducted by researchers at Penn State University. The telephone surveys started with 2,033 married people 55 years of age and younger in 1980, when the study began. Many of the same people were interviewed five more times through 2000. They were asked a variety of questions about the quality of their marriage and their relationship with their spouses, as well as demographic questions.

Marital conflict was measured by how often respondents said they disagreed with their spouse: never, rarely, sometimes, often or very often.

Based on these results, Kamp Dush and Taylor separated the respondents into high, middle and low conflict marriages.

The researchers found that people in low-conflict marriages were more likely than others to say they shared decision-making with their spouses.

“That’s interesting because you might think that making decisions jointly would create more opportunities for conflict, but that’s not what we found,” Kamp Dush said.

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“These couples believed in traditional gender roles and may have avoided conflict because of their beliefs in life-long marriage. These couples were also unlikely to divorce.”

“It may be that if both spouses have a say in decision making, they are more satisfied with their relationship and are less likely to fight.”

People in the low conflict group were also more likely than those who reported high levels of conflict to say that they believed in traditional, life-long marriage.

“People who believe marriage should last forever may also believe that fighting is just not worth it. They may be more likely to just let disagreements go,” Kamp Dush said.

These results suggest there may be two types of relatively low-conflict couples, she said. These categories were revealed when the researchers looked at how conflict was related to overall marital happiness.

They used a classification system developed by psychologists that classifies marriages into four general types: volatile, validator, hostile and avoider.

The lower conflict couples who had equal decision making tended to fall into the validator marriage category, who report high and middle levels of happiness and no more than middle levels of conflict. About 54 percent of couples were in this category, and had low levels of divorce.

“The validator marriages are often seen as positive because couples are engaged with each other and are happy. We found that in these marriages, each partner shared in decision making and in housework,” Kamp Dush said.

The other low conflict couples were in the avoider marriages, which included 6 percent of those studied. These couples had more traditional marriages in which husbands were not involved in housework and in which the participants believed in life-long marriage.

“These couples believed in traditional gender roles and may have avoided conflict because of their beliefs in life-long marriage. These couples were also unlikely to divorce.”

About 20 percent of those surveyed were in volatile marriages – high conflict and high or middle levels of happiness. The remaining participants were in hostile marriages, which were the most likely to divorce.

While couples in both validator and avoider marriages tended to have lower levels of conflict, validator marriages may be the healthiest for couples, Kamp Dush said.

“Avoiding conflict could lead couples to avoid other types of engagement with their spouse,” she said.

“A healthy marriage needs to have both spouses engaged and invested in the relationship.”

Monday, August 8, 2011

When a man's female partner becomes too buddy-buddy with his pals, his sex life may suffer


Researchers have found a potential new source for sexual problems among middle-aged and older men: The relationships between their female partners and the men's closest friends.

Cornell University and University of Chicago researchers have found a connection between erectile dysfunction and the social networks shared by heterosexual men and their partners. The researchers describe the situation as "partner betweenness." In such cases, a man's female partner has stronger relationships with his confidants than the man does — in effect, the romantic partner comes between the man and his friends.

"Men who experience partner betweenness in their joint relationships are more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection and are also more likely to experience difficulty achieving orgasm during sex," write Benjamin Cornwell, Cornell professor of sociology and Edward Laumann, University of Chicago professor of sociology in the paper.

Cornwell and Laumann argue that partner betweenness undermines men's feelings of autonomy and privacy, which are central to traditional concepts of masculinity. This can lead to overt conflict or problems with partner satisfaction and attraction. They examined data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, a comprehensive survey at the University of Chicago that included 3,005 people, from ages 57 to 85. The project is by supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The research, "Network Position and Sexual Dysfunction: Implications of Partner Betweenness for Men" is published online today, Aug. 8, 2011, in the current issue (dated July 2011) of the American Journal of Sociology. [NOTE: The paper issue of the journal will be published in late August 2011.]

Laumann said the study shows the value of understanding the connection between social relationships and health. "The results point to the importance of social network factors that are rarely considered in medical research — network structure and the individual's position within it."