Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New study reveals sex to be pleasurable with or without use of a condom or lubricant

A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that within a nationally representative study of American men and women, sex was rated as highly arousing and pleasurable whether or not condoms and/or lubricants were used. Condoms and lubricants are commonly used by both women and men when they have sex. Led by Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH and Michael Reece, PhD, MPH, of the School of Public Health-Bloomington, Indiana University, researchers reviewed a nationally representative study of men and women in the United States ages 18-59 to assess characteristics of condom and lubricant use during participants' most recent sexual event, and the relationship of their condom and lubricant use to their ratings of sexual quality. Data were from the 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, which involved the administration of an online questionnaire to a nationally representative probability sample of the U.S. adults. Results showed that men and women consistently rate sex as highly arousing and pleasurable with few differences based on condom or lubricant use. More than twice as many women were unsure whether the condom was lubricated (26.6% vs. 11.4%) or from what material it was made (23.6% vs. 8.9%). "This may be because men are more likely than women to purchase condoms and to apply condoms," said Dr. Herbenick. "However, it's important for more women to become familiar with the condoms they use with their partner so that they can make choices that enhance the safety and pleasure of their sexual experiences." Additionally, no significant differences were found in regard to men's ratings of the ease of their erections based on condom and lubricant use. "The U.S. continues to grapple with high rates of sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and unintended pregnancies," Dr. Herbenick notes. "We need to understand how people make choices about the products they use (or avoid using) and how these products contribute to the safety and pleasurable aspects of their sexual experiences. This is particularly important as the products themselves evolve and become more mainstream in American society. We also need to understand what men and women know, or don't know, about the products they use so that we can better target public health education messages to individuals and groups." "The epidemiologic studies assessing human sexual function and behavior in the US that were started 60 years ago by Kinsey are continued now by Herbenick and Reece. Gathering sexual data regarding condom use is highly relevant," explained Irwin Goldstein, MD, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. "Understanding current condom use offers health care providers an opportunity to educate those people uncomfortable with condoms but for whom lack of use may lead to significant sexually transmitted infection health risk." ### This study was funded by Church & Dwight, Inc., the maker of Trojan Brand condoms and vibrators.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New study examines on/off relationships and 'sex with an ex' among teenagers and young adults

A new study finds that nearly half of older teenagers and young adults break up and get back together with previous dating partners and over half of this group have sex as part of the reconciliation process. This study was recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Research, a SAGE journal. Researchers Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Wendy Manning, Peggy Giordano and Monica Longmore studied data on 792 daters and cohabiters ages 17 to 24, also known as "emerging adults." The researchers studied two relationship patterns specifically – reconciliation with an ex, or breaking up and getting back together, and "sex with an ex," when couples break up, yet remain sexually involved. Study authors found that approximately 44% of emerging adults who had been in a romantic relationship in the past two years had experienced at least one reconciliation with an ex romantic partner and 53% of those who reported reconciliations also reported having sex with their ex. Additionally, racial minorities in particular were even more likely to experience reconciliation or sexual relationships with previous romantic partners. The study authors discussed the implications of reconciliations with previous romantic partners: "Emerging adults who reconcile may be prone to a behavior pattern that involves cycling through relationship formation… Furthermore, having sex with an ex may be problematic because former partners can have difficulty moving on from an old relationship or building new romantic attachments." ### Find out more by reading the study "Relationship Churning in Emerging Adulthood: On/Off Relationships and Sex with an Ex" in Journal of Adolescent Research, available free for a limited time here: http://jar.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/10/05/0743558412464524.full.pdf+html

Monday, January 21, 2013

Poor sleep can leave romantic partners feeling unappreciated

Spouses and other romantic partners often complain about feeling unappreciated, and a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests poor sleep may play a hidden role. A UC Berkeley study looking into how sleep habits impact gratitude found that sleep deprivation can leave couples "too tired to say thanks" and can make one or the other partner feel taken for granted. "Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner's," said Amie Gordon, a UC Berkeley psychologist and lead investigator of the study, which she conducted with UC Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen. Gordon will present her findings this Saturday (Jan. 19) at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists in New Orleans. The results shed new light on the emotional interdependence of sleep partners, offering compelling evidence that a bad night's sleep leaves people less attuned to their partner's moods and sensitivities. For many couples, nighttime can turn into a battleground due to loud snoring, sheet-tugging or one partner tapping on a laptop while the other tosses and turns. "You may have slept like a baby, but if your partner didn't, you'll probably both end up grouchy," Gordon said. A sixth year Ph.D. student who focuses on the psychology of close relationships, Gordon noted that many people claim to be too busy to sleep, even priding themselves on how few hours of slumber they can get by on. The observation inspired her, in part, to study how a lack of zzzs might be affecting love lives. More than 60 couples, with ages ranging from 18 to 56, participated in each of Gordon's studies. In one experiment, participants kept a diary of their sleep patterns and how a good or bad night's rest affected their appreciation of their significant other. In another experiment, they were videotaped engaged in problem-solving tasks. Those who had slept badly the night before showed less appreciation for their partner. Overall, the results showed poor sleepers had a harder time counting their blessings and valuing their partners. How to remedy that? "Make sure to say to say 'thanks' when your partner does something nice," suggested Gordon. "Let them know you appreciate them."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Prior Relationship Experiences Shape Romantic Partnerships

Partners each bring a suitcase of prior experiences to a relationship, which may influence what happens in their current relationship, says Katherine (KC) Haydon, assistant professor of psychology and education. Haydon’s research examines the developmental origins of how people behave in their closest relationships. One central question in her work is how romantic partners’ individual developmental histories affect what happens in their current relationship—how they resolve conflicts, regulate and express emotions, and support each other. She also studies how close relationships with parents, friends, and romantic partners contribute to developmental outcomes, such as navigating the transition to adulthood. In addition, Haydon studies the increasingly common “hook-up culture” among younger people.

People's preferences for the height of a partner persist despite other factors important in choosing a mate

Finding Mr. or Ms. Right is a complicated process, and choosing a mate may involve compromising on less important factors like their height. However, research published January 16 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gert Stulp and colleagues from the University of Groningen, Netherlands suggests that despite the many other factors involved, people's preferences for a partner's height are reflected in real couples in the UK. Given the average heights of men and women in typical Western populations, two out of every hundred couples should comprise a woman who is taller than her male companion. However, such couples are seen much less frequently than this. Previous studies show that men generally prefer to pair with women shorter than themselves, and women prefer men who are taller than they are. However, short women and tall men appear to prefer larger height differences with their partner, whereas tall women and short men prefer smaller differences in height. These trends have previously been studied only in terms of preferences or expectations. In the current study, the authors analyze to what extent these preferences translate into actual partner choices. Their results suggest that all of these trends do exist in a sample of over 10,000 couples in the UK, and the difference in height between a man and woman in a couple tends to be less than 8 inches. However, the patterns observed in actual couples were not seen as frequently as would be expected based on people's preferences from previous studies. According to the authors, their results suggest that "while preferences for partner height generally translate into actual pairing, they do so only modestly."

Popping the question is his job

When it comes to marriage proposals, young men and women hold fast to traditional views Would women rather "pop the question?" Apparently not. With marriage proposals in the air around the new year, researchers at UC Santa Cruz report that both women and men tend to hold traditional views when it comes to marriage proposals. Young adults were asked about their personal preferences for marriage traditions. Overwhelmingly, both men and women said they would want the man in a relationship to propose marriage. A substantial majority of women also responded that they would want to take their husband's last name. In fact, not one of 136 men surveyed believed "I would definitely want my partner to propose" and not a single woman said she "would definitely want to propose." "I was surprised at how strong the preference was," said Rachael D. Robnett, a doctoral candidate in psychology at UC Santa Cruz. Robnett surveyed 277 undergraduates ages 17 to 26. She found that a substantial majority believes strongly that a man should propose marriage and a woman should take her husband's name. Robnett's findings are reported in "Girls Don't Propose! Ew" published in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research. Robnett said she expected some preference for traditional engagement and marriage roles, but not at such a high level, particularly among young people. The survey was conducted in 2009-2010 among psychology majors or intended majors and was limited to heterosexual students. "Given the prevalence of liberal attitudes among students at the university where data collection took place it is striking that so many participants held traditional preferences," she writes. "Even more surprising is that many participants overtly state that their preferences were driven by a desire to adhere to gender-role traditions." Robnett said 68.4 percent of men answered, "I would definitely want to propose. Sixty-six percent of women answered "I would definitely want my partner too propose.” Nearly 15 percent of men answered, "I would kind of want to propose" and 16.9 percent said, "It doesn't matter who proposes." Among the 141 women surveyed, 22 percent said, "I would kind of want my partner to propose; 2.8 percent said they would "kind of want to propose" and 9.2 percent answered "it doesn't matter." On the surname question, Robnett found 60.2 percent of women were "very willing" or "somewhat willing" to take their husband's name. Only 6.4 percent were "very unwilling" and 11.3 percent "somewhat unwilling." Another 22 percent answered "neither willing nor unwilling." She also found the adherence to tradition is linked to "benevolent sexism," the assumption of traditional gender roles in which "men should protect, cherish, and provide for women." "On the surface it looks positive," Robnett said. "The problem is that benevolent sexism contributes to power differentials between women and men. The mindset underlying benevolent sexism is that women need men’s protection because they are the weaker gender. Also, people who endorse benevolent sexism tend to support traditional gender roles such as the belief that women should do most of the childcare even if both partners work. "Both men and women are raised to believe that aspects of benevolent sexism are desirable; it’s usually viewed as politeness or chivalry," she said. "This makes it hard for people to challenge, which is unfortunate because research shows it often does a disservice to women."

Drug abuse impairs sexual performance in men even after rehabilitation

-An article published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in the USA reveals that alcohol is the drug that most affects sexual arousal (erectile capacity). -In addition, the researchers observed that men did not improve their sexual performance when they stopped drinking alcohol. -The study included 905 men of which 550 had been diagnosed with alcohol, cocaine, cocaine and alcohol, heroin, marihuana and speedball (cocaine and heroin) addiction. Researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, and Santo Tomas University in Colombia have found that drug abuse negatively affects sexual performance in men even after years of abstinence. This finding contradicts other studies reporting that men spontaneously recovered their normal sexual performance at three weeks after quitting substance abuse. The results of this study have been published in the prestigious Journal of Sexual Medicine, the official journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine. The authors of this paper are Pablo Vallejo Medina –a professor at Santo Tomas University, Colombia– and Juan Carlos Sierra, a professor at the University of Granada. In this study, the researchers assessed the sexual performance of 605 men, of which 550 had been diagnosed with alcohol, cocaine, cocaine and alcohol, heroin, marihuana and speedball (cocaine and heroin) addiction. The remaining 356 men were included as controls. Assessing Four Areas The researchers examined and evaluated four areas of sexual performance: sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, sexual arousal and orgasm. The study revealed that the study group had a moderately to significantly impaired sexual performance as compared to controls. Additionally, the researchers separately examined the effects of the different substances on sexuality. For instance, speedball and cocaine abuse prevailingly affect sexual pleasure, while they slightly affect sexual desire. Indeed, cocaine users have very high sexual desire during peak periods of drug abuse. Alcohol is the drug which most affects sexual arousal (erectile capacity). This is the first study to reveal the permanent effect of substance abuse on sexuality, even after long abstinence periods. Finally, orgasms are prevailingly impaired by heroin, cocaine, alcohol and speedball.