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."


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pubic hair grooming linked to heightened sexually transmitted infection risk


Pubic hair grooming is linked to a heightened risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, finds research published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

The association seems to be strongest among those who groom their pubic hair frequently and intensively--a practice dubbed 'extreme grooming' by the researchers--the findings show.

Pubic hair removal is becoming increasingly common among men and women worldwide amid changing perceptions of the role of body hair in attractiveness, cleanliness, and feelings of masculinity/femininity, say the researchers.

To find out what impact this growing trend might be having on rates of sexually transmitted infections, the researchers polled a nationally representative random sample of US adults about their intimate grooming habits.

Among the 14,000+ sample of 18-65 year olds, some 7580 (56% men) completed the survey, responding to questions about the intensity (trimming or complete removal) and frequency (from daily to annually) of their public hair grooming, as well as the tools they typically used.

'Extreme' groomers were classified as those who removed all their public hair more than 11 times a year, and 'high frequency' groomers as those who trimmed their pubic hair daily or weekly.

Participants were also asked about their sexual history. Some 7470 said they had had at least one sexual partner.

Almost three out of four (74%) respondents said they had groomed their pubic hair before, with more women (84%) than men (66%), saying they had done so.

Among the groomers, 17% were classified as 'extreme' and 22% as 'high frequency', with one in 10 falling into both categories.

Overall, groomers tended to be younger, more sexually active, and to have had more annual and total lifetime sexual partners than those who said they didn't groom their pubic hair.

And the number of sexual partners among extreme groomers was higher than it was for any other category of groomer.

An electric razor was the most common grooming tool among men (42%), while a manual razor was more common among women (61%). Around one in five men and women used scissors.

In all, 13% (943) respondents said they had had at least one of the following: herpes; human papilloma virus (HPV); syphilis; molluscum; gonorrhoea; chlamydia; HIV; or pubic lice.

After factoring in age and the number of lifetime sexual partners, any type of grooming was associated with an 80% heightened risk of having a sexually transmitted infection compared with no grooming.

Intensity and frequency of grooming also seemed to be linked to the magnitude of risk. Among high frequency and extreme groomers, the practice was associated with a 3.5 to 4-fold heightened risk, particularly for infections that arise through skin on skin contact, such as herpes and HPV.

By contrast, low intensity/frequency grooming was associated with a doubling in risk of a lice infestation, suggesting that grooming might make it harder for lice to breed successfully.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which the researchers were not able to determine the timing of grooming relative to acquisition of infection, or account for either safer sex practices or indeed risky sexual behaviours.

To explain their findings, the researchers suggest that grooming might be a proxy for higher levels of sexual activity and associated infection risk, or that it might cause tiny skin tears, through which bacteria and viruses can easily pass.

Further research is needed to shed some light on these possibilities, say the researchers. Either way, evidence of grooming could be a useful prompt for clinicians to ask about safer sex practices, or to suggest delaying sex to allow the skin to heal, they add.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fear of gaining weight may influence contraception choices


Concerns about weight gain may be driving contraception choices, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. Women who are overweight or obese are less likely than women who are not overweight or obese to use the birth control pill and other hormonal contraceptive methods.

Weight gain is one of the most commonly cited reasons why women stop using hormonal contraception, and therefore may play a role in the risk of unintended pregnancies, said Cynthia H. Chuang, professor of medicine and public health sciences. Although oral contraception likely does not cause weight gain, says Chuang, many women attribute increasing weight with the birth control pill. The birth control shot has been associated with weight gain in younger women.

Chuang and her co-researchers wanted to learn if women's weight or their perception of weight influenced the type of birth control they used, if any. To do so, they examined demographic and survey data from almost 1,000 privately insured women in Pennsylvania.

The researchers categorized weight category based on body mass index (BMI), a measure of body size based on height and weight.

They determined that overweight and obese women were more likely than women who are not overweight or obese to choose forms of birth control known as long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), and less likely to use methods like the pill, the shot, the patch and the ring. There was also a trend toward overweight and obese women to be more likely to use non-prescription methods such as condoms, withdrawal and natural family planning, or no method. The researchers will report their results in the journal Contraception.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives include intrauterine devices, commonly known as IUDs, and the contraceptive implant. LARCs do not contain estrogen, which some some women believe causes weight gain.

"What we think may be happening is that women who are overweight and obese may be more likely to choose methods other than the pill or the shot because of fear of weight gain," Chuang said. "As a result, they are choosing both more effective methods (LARCS) and less effective, non-prescription methods."

Researchers found that 23 percent of overweight and 21 percent of obese women used LARCs, which are the most effective forms of birth control. In contrast, only 6 percent of under-weight and normal-weight women used LARCs in the study.

"We were actually glad to see that overweight and obese women were at least more likely to choose LARCs because I was expecting to see these women more likely to use non-prescription methods," Chuang said.

Heavier women also were more likely than normal-weight women to use less-effective non-prescription birth control methods -- such as condoms -- or no method at all. However, these results did not reach statistical significance, Chuang said.

The researchers also evaluated whether perception of weight influenced contraceptive choice. In the study, half of the women perceived themselves to be overweight, although only around 42 percent of them were overweight or obese based on BMI. This perception, however, did not appear to influence birth control choice.

"Women may be worried about weight gain when they're making decisions about birth control, so clinicians need to be aware of that," Chung said. "It could be an opportunity to counsel women about LARCs, which are more effective forms of contraception."


FDA approves Intrarosa for postmenopausal women experiencing pain during sex


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Intrarosa (prasterone) to treat women experiencing moderate to severe pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), a symptom of vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA), due to menopause. Intrarosa is the first FDA approved product containing the active ingredient prasterone, which is also known as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

During menopause, levels of estrogen decline in vaginal tissues, which may cause a condition known as VVA, leading to symptoms such as pain during sexual intercourse.

"Pain during sexual intercourse is one of the most frequent symptoms of VVA reported by postmenopausal women," said Audrey Gassman, M.D., deputy director of the Division of Bone, Reproductive, and Urologic Products (DBRUP) in the Office of Drug Evaluation III in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). "Intrarosa provides an additional treatment option for women seeking relief of dyspareunia caused by VVA."

Efficacy of Intrarosa, a once-daily vaginal insert, was established in two 12-week placebo-controlled clinical trials of 406 healthy postmenopausal women, 40 to 80 years of age, who identified moderate to severe pain during sexual intercourse as their most bothersome symptom of VVA. Women were randomly assigned to receive Intrarosa or a placebo vaginal insert. Intrarosa, when compared to placebo, was shown to reduce the severity of pain experienced during sexual intercourse.

The safety of Intrarosa was established in four 12-week placebo-controlled trials and one 52-week open-label trial. The most common adverse reactions were vaginal discharge and abnormal Pap smear.

Although DHEA is included in some dietary supplements, the efficacy and safety of those products have not been established for diagnosing, curing, mitigating, treating or preventing any disease.

Intrarosa is marketed by Quebec-based Endoceutics Inc.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

More women sexually active into old age



Although many of us don't want to think about grandma still "getting it on," multiple studies show that older women are still sexually active beyond their seventh decade of life. A new study published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), suggests, however, that at least one in seven women aged 65 to 79 years has hypoactive sexual desire dysfunction (HSDD).

In the questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study, more than 1,500 Australian women were assessed for sexual function and sexual distress as defined by the Female Sexual Function Index and the Female Sexual Distress Scale-Revised. The group consisted of 52.6% partnered women, with a mean age of 71 years. Within this group, 88% were found to have low sexual desire, 15.5% had sexually related personal distress, and 13.6% had HSDD, which is defined as the presence of both low sexual desire and sexually related personal distress. This percentage was higher than what had previously been reported for women in this age group and similar to the prevalence reported for younger women.

Although HSDD was found to be more common in women with partners, the study confirmed that unpartnered older women are still sexually active and may be distressed by low sexual desire. Independent factors included vaginal dryness during intercourse in the past month, having moderate to severe depressive symptoms, and having symptomatic pelvic floor dysfunction.

"This study demonstrates that healthcare providers need to have honest and open discussions with their patients as they age with regard to desire, mood, vaginal dryness, and pelvic floor issues to determine whether these factors are affecting a woman's desire or ability to be sexual," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Women experience marked decline in sexual function in months immediately before and after onset of menopause


Women experience a notable decline in sexual function approximately 20 months before and one year after their last menstrual period, and that decrease continues, though at a somewhat slower rate, over the following five years, according to a study led by a researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The study, published ahead of print in the online issue of Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, also found that various factors that frequently co-occur with menopause have less direct influence on declining sexual function than menopause itself.

"Sexual functioning in women declines with age, and there has been much debate about how much this is due to menopause, aging or other physical, psychological or social factors," said the study's lead author, Nancy Avis, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist. "Our findings support that menopause has a negative effect on sexual functioning in many women."

Additionally, the study found that women who have a hysterectomy before the onset of menopause do not experience a marked decline in sexual function immediately before undergoing the procedure but do so afterward, for as long as five years.

The researchers based their findings on information collected from 1,390 participants in the federally funded Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which began in 1996. These women, who were between the ages of 42 and 52 at the time of enrollment in the study and who had a known date of final menstrual period during their participation, responded to questionnaires dealing with various aspects of sexual function -- including desire, arousal, satisfaction and pain -- between one and seven times over the course of the study. The researchers analyzed 5,798 of these self-assessments (4,932 from the 1,164 women in the natural menopause group and 866 from the 226 women in the hysterectomy group) and tracked the changes in the respondents' scores on the sexual-function questionnaires relative to either their final menstrual period among women who experienced a natural menopause or the hysterectomy. Of note, in the natural menopause group the researchers found that race/ethnicity played a major role in the decline of sexual function, with African-American women experiencing a significantly smaller decline and women of Japanese descent experiencing a much greater decline when compared with white women.

"Sexual functioning is an important component of women's lives. More than 75 percent of the middle-aged women in the SWAN study reported that sex was moderately to extremely important to them when the study began," Avis said. "It is important for women and their health care providers to understand all the factors that may impact women's experience of sex in relation to both the natural menopausal transition and hysterectomy, and we hope our findings will contribute to better understanding in this area."


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Women have a remarkable variety of orgasmic experiences


The nature of a woman's orgasm has been a source of debate for over a century. Since the Victorian era, the pendulum has swung from the vagina to the clitoris, and to some extent back again.

Today, the debate is stuck over whether an orgasm can be produced through vaginal stimulation alone, or if arousal of the external clitoris is always necessary.

A new review by Concordia research published in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology details the vast potential women have to experience orgasms from one or more sources of sensory input.

In the review, senior author Jim Pfaus, a psychology professor from the Faculty of Arts and Science, and his co-authors -- Concordia graduate students Gonzalo Quintana Zunino and Conall Mac Cionnaith, as well as Mayte Parada from McGill University -- look into the evolution of the clitoral versus vaginal orgasm debate.

They arrive at a new understanding of the female orgasm that incorporates the external clitoral glans, the internal region around the G-spot, the cervix and sensory stimulation of non-genital areas such as the nipples.

"With experience, stimulation of one or all of these triggering zones are integrated into a 'whole' set of sensory inputs, movements, body positions, arousals and cues related to context," Pfaus says.

"That combination of sensory input is what reliably induces pleasure and orgasm during masturbation and intercourse. That said, we think it's likely this changes across the lifespan, as women experience different kinds of orgasms from different types of sensations in different contexts and with different partners."

The article explains that the distinction between different orgasms is not between sensations of the external clitoris and internal vagina, but between levels of what a woman understands a "whole" orgasm to consist of.

This depends firstly on her experience with direct stimulation of the external clitoris, internal clitoris and cervix. But it also relates to knowledge of the arousing and erotic cues that predict orgasm, knowledge of her own pattern of movements that lead to it and experience with stimulation of multiple external and internal genital and non-genital sites -- for example, lips, nipples, ears, neck, fingers and, yes, toes.

"Orgasms don't have to come from one site, nor from all sites. And they don't have to be the same for every woman, nor for every sexual experience even in the same woman, to be whole and valid."

Pfaus hopes that this article will drive home the fact that the female orgasm is not simply a different version of the reproductive model of male ejaculation.

"Unlike men, women can have a remarkable variety of orgasmic experiences, which evolve throughout the lifespan. A woman's erotic body map is not etched in stone, but rather is an ongoing process of experience, discovery and construction."


Monday, September 12, 2016

Women find beardedness attractive when judging long-term relationships


New research suggests that women tend to find beardedness attractive when judging long-term relationships, perhaps as a signal of formidability among males and the potential to provide direct benefits, such as enhanced fertility and survival, to females.

For the study, investigators used computer graphic manipulation to morph male faces varying in facial hair from clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, and full beards, with additional differences in brow ridge, cheekbones, jawline, and other features so that the same man appeared more or less masculine.

When women viewed the images, masculinized and, to an even greater extent, feminized faces were less attractive than unmanipulated faces when all were clean-shaven. Stubble was judged as most attractive overall and received higher ratings for short-term relationships than full beards, which were more attractive for long-term relationships. Extremely masculine and extremely feminine-looking males were least attractive, irrespective of relationship context.

"Sexual selection via female choice has shaped the evolution of male ornamentation in many species," wrote the authors of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology study.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Link between young women's beliefs on alcohol use and sex



It may come as little surprise that alcohol use is widespread among young adults. In the U.S., 70 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 drink alcohol, with 40 percent of women imbibing over the recommended daily limit of 3 drinks per day. Add that to preconceived notions that alcohol-related behavior results in sexual risk-taking, and it may point to why young women are experiencing an increased prevalence of sexually-transmitted infections.

New research from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine shows that just over two-thirds (66.9 percent) of college-aged women engaged in unprotected sex during their last sexual encounter involving alcohol.

The study, published online in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, set out to understand how one's beliefs about alcohol and sex affect condom use during sexual encounters involving alcohol. Based on participants surveyed, sex without a condom was significantly and positively related to both one's motivation for sexual activity to satisfy personal physical needs and stronger beliefs that alcohol promotes sexual risk-taking.

"Understanding the factors that may underlie the association between alcohol and condomless sex among young women is of considerable public health importance," says Jennifer Brown, PhD, lead author and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine. "Particularly because incident HIV infections and other sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among women, and the majority of these are transmitted via heterosexual contact."

Among the characteristics of reported sexual encounters, most women in the study consumed more than 3 to 5 drinks and described themselves and their partner as being "moderately intoxicated."

"Most young women reported levels of heavy drinking prior to sex, which can impair their cognitive functioning and decision-making. These findings underscore the need to examine the associations between alcohol consumption and sexual risk-taking," says Brown, whose research in the Addiction Sciences Division focuses on substance use and sexual health. Brown adds, "Within this context, beliefs that drinking could result in sexual risk-taking may account for why motives for sex to satisfy personal physical needs relate to decreased condom use."

Study participants consisted of 287 college-age females, primarily Caucasian, who anonymously self-reported on their most recent sexual activity involving alcohol. Participants were surveyed to examine their associations between alcohol use and sexual behavior and to self-report events of sexual encounters after drinking alcohol within the last 30 days.

"Relative to older women, young women engage in an elevated rate of alcohol use and are at increased risk for adverse sexual health outcomes. Interventions that target beliefs around alcohol use, which could assist young women to increase condom usage, could show benefit in the reduction of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, as well as unintended pregnancies," says Brown.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Comparing sexual experiences related to alcohol and marijuana use


A new study, published in Archives of Sexual Behavior by researchers affiliated with New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), compared self-reported sexual experiences related to use of alcohol and marijuana. Since marijuana has increased in popularity in the U.S., the researchers examined if and how marijuana use may influence risk for unsafe sexual behavior.

"With marijuana becoming more accepted in the U.S. along with more liberal state-level policies," notes Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, an affiliate of CDUHR and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), "it is important to examine users' sexual experiences and sexual risk behavior associated with use to inform prevention and harm reduction."

In this study, the researchers interviewed 24 adults (12 males and 12 females, all self-identified as heterosexual and HIV-negative) who recently used marijuana before sex. Compared to marijuana, alcohol use was more commonly associated with social outgoingness and use often facilitated connections with potential sexual partners; however, alcohol was more likely than marijuana to lead to atypical partner choice or post-sex regret.

Alcohol was commonly used as a social lubricant to meet sexual partners, and this was related, in part, to alcohol being readily available in social gatherings.

"Interestingly, some users reported that the illegality of marijuana actually facilitated sexual interactions," notes Dr. Palamar. "Since smoking marijuana recreationally is illegal in most states and smoking it tends to produce a strong odor, it usually has to be used in a private setting. Some individuals utilize such private or intimate situations to facilitate sexual encounters".

While users often described favorable sexual effects of each drug, both alcohol and marijuana were reportedly associated with a variety of negative sexual effects including sexual dysfunction. For example, marijuana use was linked to vaginal dryness and alcohol was commonly described as increasing the likelihood of impotence among males.

The researchers noted that the sexual effects tended to be similar across males and females, and both alcohol and marijuana were generally associated with loss of inhibitions. Both drugs appear to be potentially associated with increased feelings of self-attractiveness, but possibly more so for alcohol, and participants reported feelings of increased sociability and boldness while consuming alcohol.

While some participants reported that marijuana use made them more selective in choosing a partner, many participants-- both male and female--felt that their "standards" for choosing a partner were lowered while under the influence of alcohol.

"It wasn't surprising that alcohol use reportedly led to less post-sex satisfaction than marijuana," said Dr. Palamar. "Participants reported feelings of regret more frequently after sex on alcohol, but compared to alcohol they generally didn't report poor judgment after using marijuana."

When smoking marijuana, participants tended to reported increased feelings of anxiety or a sense of wariness in unfamiliar situations that they did not generally seem to experience after using alcohol. Therefore, these drugs appear to have different effects with regard to socialization that may precede a sexual encounter.

"Sexual encounters on marijuana tended to be with someone the individual knew," comments Dr. Palamar. "Sex on alcohol was often with a stranger so the situation before sex may be much more important than the drug used."

Marijuana and alcohol are associated with unique sexual effects, with alcohol use reportedly leading to riskier sexual behavior. Both drugs appear to potentially increase risk for unsafe sex.

"Research is needed continue to study sexual effects of recreational drugs to inform prevention to ensure that users and potential users of these drugs are aware of sexual effects associated with use," emphasizes Dr. Palamar. "Our results can inform prevention and harm reduction education especially with regard to marijuana, since people who smoke marijuana generally don't receive any harm reduction information at all. They're pretty much just told not to use it."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Millennials less sexually active than Gen-X peers




Since time immemorial, older generations have fretted over the sexual habits of young people. In today's world, however, elders might just be wondering why young people are having so little sex, according to a new study by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M. Twenge.

A research team also including Ryne Sherman from Florida Atlantic University and Brooke Wells from Widener University analyzed data from 26,707 respondents to the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults that includes members of the current millennial generation and its predecessor, Generation X. The researchers found that today's young people are less likely to have had sex since turning 18.

According to Twenge, author of the book "Generation Me," 15 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds born in the 1990s reported having no sexual partners since age 18, compared to only 6 percent of Generation X'ers when they were young adults. This sexual inactivity stands in stark contrast to the so-called "hookup culture" reportedly pervasive among Millennials: More are not having sex at all, much less hooking up with multiple partners.

"Online dating apps should, in theory, help Millennials find sexual partners more easily," she said. "However, technology may have the opposite effect if young people are spending so much time online that they interact less in person, and thus don't have sex."

Concerns over personal safety and a media landscape saturated with reports of collegiate sexual abuse might also contribute to millennials' sexual inactivity compared to previous generations, Twenge continued.

"This generation is very interested in safety, which also appears in their reduced use of alcohol and their interest in 'safe spaces' on campus," she said. "This is a very risk-averse generation, and that attitude may be influencing their sexual choices."

Other factors contributing to fewer millennials having sex could include the widespread availability of pornography, the historically high number of young adults living with their parents, the later age at first marriage, and increased access to instant entertainment online. The researchers published their findings this week in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Today's teens also appear to be less sexually active. According to the Centers for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the percentage of U.S. high school students who have ever had sex dropped from 51 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015.

"This generation appears to be waiting longer to have sex, with an increasing minority apparently waiting until their early twenties or later," said Twenge. "It's good news for sexual and emotional health if teens are waiting until they are ready. But if young adults forgo sex completely, they may be missing out on some of the advantages of an adult romantic relationship."


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Regardless of age, health conditions, many seniors not retired from sex


 Despite societal perceptions that older adults' love lives are ancient history, many seniors are anything but retired from sex, a new study suggests.
Many seniors consider sexual activity essential to their well-being, happiness and quality of life. And some of these vivacious seniors are finding their golden years to be an optimal time for exploring new dimensions of their sexuality, said researcher Liza Berdychevsky, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois.
Berdychevsky and co-author Galit Nimrod of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, examined the importance of and constraints on sexuality in older adulthood - as well as people's strategies for staying sexually active throughout their later years. The researchers analyzed a full year of conversations about sex that occurred on 14 leading online communities that target people age 50 and over. The study sample included English-speaking websites based in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
Older adults' discussions of their experiences and perspectives about sexual matters were wide-ranging and diverse. While some seniors were content with retiring from sex, many others emphasized that they "remained sexually able, interested and active," the researchers found.
"Although some older adults reported abstaining from sexual activity due to health conditions or loss of interest, others refused to renounce sexual activity. Their health problems or society's ageist stereotypes that portray seniors as asexual were not going to become excuses to give up on life - or sex," Berdychevsky said.
A sense of impending mortality inspired some older adults to cast aside sexual inhibitions or stereotypes that constrained their behavior when they were younger and to begin exploring new activities or aspects of their sexuality, according to the study.
Rather than diminishing with age, some seniors' libidos caught fire and sexual activity took on greater importance with their abundance of leisure time in later life. For these seniors, their sexual explorations affirmed their ongoing engagement with life and continuing personal growth, Berdychevsky said.
While people may have greater opportunity and perceived freedom to explore their sexuality later in life and might benefit the most from it, they also are confronted with numerous cultural, social, psychological and biological constraints, Berdychevsky said.
"But not everybody perceived these constraints as verdicts. Many seniors were willing to negotiate these constraints, resist them and find various cognitive and behavioral strategies to continue having sex," Berdychevsky said.
Ageist stereotypes that older adults are - or should be - asexual frequently encroached on seniors' sex lives. In the online forums, some seniors recounted incidents of health care workers dismissing their concerns about their sexual health or functioning. Likewise, some seniors reported that their lifestyles elicited disapproval from their adult children or staff members in their living facilities, Berdychevsky said.
How to continue enjoying one's sexuality after the loss of a spouse or partner and the risks associated with dating and sexual relationships in later life were popular discussion topics. While some seniors swapped advice about finding new partners and trying new sexual activities such as sex toys, less progressive older adults wrote that embarrassment and fear of social stigma prevented them from trying these activities.
Although health conditions sometimes constrained older adults' physical abilities, their willingness to reappraise and adapt their sexual activities - rather than surrender to their physical limitations - determined whether they continued to enjoy fulfilling sex lives, the researchers concluded in the paper, published in the journal Leisure Sciences.
Learning to appreciate what they had - whether it was enjoying foreplay in lieu of intercourse, focusing on quality instead of quantity, or finding mental richness and life experience as arousing as a youthful physique - enabled some older adults to adjust their sexual expectations to the realities of aging and their health conditions, Berdychevsky said. 
Like other leisure pursuits, sexual activity served as an important adjustment strategy, helping some seniors cope with life transitions such as ending their careers and moving into retirement communities or health care facilities, the researchers wrote.
Other seniors, however, indicated they were happy to forgo sex, the researchers found. Youth-oriented depictions of "positive" or "successful" aging that implied ongoing sexual activity, which are used frequently in marketing sex-enhancement products, were distressing to these seniors and perceived as sensationalistic.
"These stereotypes caused performance anxiety in some older men, and some older women believed that both partners should have a say in whether sex enhancement drugs are prescribed," Berdychevsky said.
Sexual education programming that addresses the variety of physical and psychosocial risks that sexually active older adults face is much needed, according to the researchers. Likewise, health care providers and residential facility staff members must be encouraged to shed ageist stereotypes about older adults' sexuality, respect their rights to privacy and sexual activity, and be sensitive to their concerns.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

There are ways that couples can sustain -- or relight -- their passion


Many couples find that their sexual desire has dwindled over time. It's not unusual for partners who could not keep their hands off each to gradually lose interest. But new research indicates that there are ways that couples can sustain -- or relight -- their passion.

"Our research shows that partners who are responsive to each other outside the bedroom are able to maintain their sexual desire," says Gurit Birnbaum, psychology professor at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel. Birnbaum and her coauthors also found that women's desire is more strongly affected by their partner's responsiveness than men's desire -- although men report a boost, as well.

"Responsiveness -- which is a type of intimacy -- is so important in a relationship because it signals that one is really concerned with the welfare of the other, but in a way that is truly open and informed about what the other cares about and wants," says Birnbaum. Responsive partners are willing to invest resources in the relationship, and show understanding at a deep level. They make the relationship feel special -- that their relationship is unique -- which is, at least in Western societies, what people seek from their romantic relationships.

Resolving the intimacy-desire paradox

In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Birnbaum and coauthor Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, report that their new study was, in part, prompted by a concept psychologists know as the "intimacy-desire paradox."

The core of the paradox lies in the contradiction between intimate and familiar relationships that many people strive for, and the limitations of such bonds for facilitating desire. Some scholars have argued that long-term intimacy may actually inhibit rather than increase sexual desire. For example, the need for security may clash with the sense of novelty and uncertainty that can often fuel desire.
But previous research has not provided conclusive evidence for whether increased sense of intimacy actually promotes or undermines sexual desire.

And Birnbaum and Reis's new study suggests that, under certain circumstances, there may not be a paradox.

Valued and desirable

What determines whether intimacy prompts or inhibits desire is not its mere existence, but its meaning in the larger context of a relationship, they argue. Responsiveness is most likely to encourage desire. That's because it conveys the impression that the partner is worth pursuing and thus engaging in sex with such a desirable partner is likely to promote an already valuable relationship.
As part of the study, the researchers conducted three experiments, one of which consisted of 100 couples who kept a diary for six weeks. Both partners reported on their own level of sexual desire each day as well as their perceptions of their partner's responsiveness. They also reported their own levels of feeling special and perceptions of their partner's mate value.

The results indicated that when men and women perceive their partners as responsive, they feel special and think of their partner as a valuable mate, which boosted sexual desirability.

Birnbaum notes that partner responsiveness had a significantly stronger effect on women's perceptions of themselves and others, suggesting that women experienced higher levels of desire for their responsive partner because they were more likely than men to feel special and value their partner as a result of the partner's responsiveness.

"'Being nice' and things like that are not necessarily based on who the partner is and what the partner really wants," Birnbaum says. "When a mate is truly responsive, the relationship feels special and unique and he or she is perceived as valued and desirable.

"Sexual desire thrives on increasing intimacy and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time; better than any pyrotechnic sex," Birnbaum says.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Opposites attract -- unless you're in a relationship



If we are in a relationship we are more likely to be attracted to faces resembling our own, but for single people, opposites attract.
Relationship status affects who and what we find attractive, found a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Dr Jitka Lindová of Charles University in the Czech Republic and her team showed a series of photographs of faces to university students and asked them to rate their attractiveness. The photographs were digitally manipulated so that the resemblance to the student was modified.
Images were of an individual of the opposite sex, whose face had been manipulated to look either more or less similar to the student. They were also presented with images of a same-sex individual manipulated in the same way.
"We found that single participants, those not in relationships, rate dissimilar faces as more attractive and sexy than self-resembling faces;" stated Lindová.
This was observed when participants rated both same-sex and opposite-sex faces.
"For the first time, we have observed how our partnership status affects who we find attractive;" she added.
"Our interpretation is that attractiveness perception mechanisms that give us a preference for a genetically suitable partner may be suppressed during romantic relationships," explained Lindová; "This might be a relationship maintenance strategy to prevent us from finding alternatives to our own partner, or perhaps self-resemblance becomes more important in terms of the social support we expect receive from relatives, which are known as kinship cues."
Little research has been carried out about how our perceptions change when we enter a relationship. These findings have important sociological and biological implications that require further study.
In addition, Lindová pointed out that this work may be of interest to the applied psychological sciences.
"For example, as those not in a relationship were not influenced by kinship cues and our findings might help to explain social phenomena such as parent and adolescent disaffection;" she said.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Faking to finish -- women feign sexual pleasure to end 'bad' sex

When talking about troubling sexual encounters some women mention faking sexual pleasure to speed up their male partner's orgasm and ultimately end sex.
This is one of the findings of a qualitative study by Emily Thomas (Ryerson University, Canada) Monika Stelzl, Michelle Lafrance (St. Thomas University, Canada) that will be presented today, Friday 8 July 2016, at the British Psychological Society's Psychology of Women annual conference in Windsor. 
Emily said: "While some women spoke about faking orgasm in positive ways, for instance, as a pleasurable experience that heightened their own arousal, many talked about feigning pleasure in the context of unwanted and unpleasurable sexual experiences. Within these accounts, we were struck by the degree to which women were connecting the practice of faking orgasm to accounts of unwanted sex."
In the study 15 women (aged 19 -28) who had been sexually active for at least one year were interviewed to talk about experiences of feigning sexual pleasure. Despite being recruited to talk about consensual sex, all women spoke explicitly of a problematic sexual experience. Interviews were analysed to explore how these women negotiate and account for experiences of problem sex in the context of exaggerating sexual pleasure and faking orgasm.
Analysis showed that the women never used terms such as rape and coercion to refer to their own experiences - despite their descriptions of events that could be categorised as such. Instead, women described their experiences of unwanted sex in indirect ways. For example, women used the term 'bad' to describe sex that was both unwanted and unpleasurable. 
The women spoke of faking orgasm as a means to ending these troubling sexual encounters. In other words, faking orgasm provided a solution for ending sex where, culturally, not many options are available. 
""It appears that faking orgasm is both problematic and helpful at the same time. On one level faking an orgasm may be a useful strategy as it affords some control over ending a sexual encounter. We are not criticizing faking practice on an individual level. We want to focus on the problems with our current lack of available language to describe women's experiences that acknowledges, names and confronts the issues women spoke of in our interviews."

Monday, May 16, 2016

Why is female sexuality more flexible than male sexuality?


A new evolutionary theory argues that women may have been evolutionarily designed to be sexually fluid--changing their sexual desires and identities from lesbian, to bisexual, to heterosexual and back again--in order to allow them to have sex with their co-wives in polygynous marriages, therefore reducing conflict and tension inherent in such marriages while at the same time successfully reproducing with their husbands in heterosexual unions.
The theory may also help explain a number of puzzles in human sex research, including differences in female and male homosexuality, male arousal to lesbian sex, and menstrual synchrony.
"The theory suggests that women may not have sexual orientations in the same sense as men do," said Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, author of the Biological Reviews article. "Rather than being straight or gay, to whom women are sexually attracted may depend largely on the particular partner, their reproductive status, and other circumstances."



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Does frequent sex lead to better relationships? Depends on how you ask

Newlywed couples who have a lot of sex don't report being any more satisfied with their relationships than those who have sex less often, but their automatic behavioral responses tell a different story, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
"We found that the frequency with which couples have sex has no influence on whether or not they report being happy with their relationship, but their sexual frequency does influence their more spontaneous, automatic, gut-level feelings about their partners," says psychological scientist Lindsey L. Hicks of Florida State University, lead author on the research.
"This is important in light of research from my colleagues demonstrating that these automatic attitudes ultimately predict whether couples end up becoming dissatisfied with their relationship."
From an evolutionary standpoint, frequent sex confers several benefits, improving chances of conception and helping bond partners together in relationships that facilitate child-rearing. But when researchers explicitly ask couples about their relationship satisfaction, they typically don't find any association between satisfaction and frequency of sex.
"We thought these inconsistencies may stem from the influence of deliberate reasoning and biased beliefs regarding the sometimes taboo topic of sex," explains Hicks.
Because our gut-level, automatic attitudes don't require conscious deliberation, Hicks and colleagues hypothesized, they might tap into implicit perceptions or associations that we aren't aware of. The researchers decided to tackle the question again, assessing partners' relationship satisfaction using both standard self-report measures and automatic behavioral measures.
In the first study, 216 newlyweds completed survey-style measures of relationship satisfaction. Participants rated various qualities of their marriage (e.g., bad-good, dissatisfied-satisfied, unpleasant-pleasant); the extent to which they agreed with different statements (e.g., "We have a good marriage"); and their overall feelings of satisfaction with their partner, their relationship with their partner, and their marriage.
Then, they completed a computer classification task: A word appeared on-screen and they had to press a specific key to indicate whether the word was positive or negative. Before the word appeared, a photo of their partners popped up for 300 ms.
The rationale behind this kind of implicit measure is that participants' response times indicate how strongly two items are associated at an automatic level. The faster the response time, the stronger the association between the partner and the word that appeared. Responding more slowly to negative words than to positive words that followed the picture of the partner would signify generally positive implicit attitudes toward the partner.
The researchers also asked each partner in the couple to estimate how many times they had had sex in the last four months.
Just as in previous studies, Hicks and colleagues found no association between frequency of sex and self-reported relationship satisfaction.
But when they looked at participants' automatic behavioral responses, they saw a different pattern: Estimates of sexual frequency were correlated with participants' automatic attitudes about their partners. That is, the more often couples had sex, the more strongly they associated their partners with positive attributes.
Importantly, this finding held for both men and women. And a longitudinal study that tracked 112 newlyweds indicated that frequency of sex was in fact linked with changes in participants' automatic relationship attitudes over time.
"Our findings suggest that we're capturing different types of evaluations when we measure explicit and automatic evaluations of a partner or relationship," says Hicks. "Deep down, some people feel unhappy with their partner but they don't readily admit it to us, or perhaps even themselves."
The researchers note that participants' reports of how often they remember having sex may not be the most precise measure of sexual frequency. And it remains to be seen whether the findings are applicable to all couples or specific to newly married couples like those they studied.
Taken together, the findings drive home the point that asking someone about their feelings or attitudes isn't the only way to measure how they feel.
"These studies illustrate that some of our experiences, which can be either positive or negative, affect our relationship evaluations whether we know it or not," Hicks concludes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Older men who purchase sex do so more frequently as they age


Older American male customers of sex workers pay for more sex as they age. These findings are reported in a study which surveyed older American men who frequent sex work websites and discussion boards. It was conducted by Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Christine Milrod and sociologist Martin Monto of the University of Portland in the US and published in Springer's journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. 
The participants were 208 men between the ages of 60 and 84 years old from 36 American states who posted or read reviews or comments on female sex work review websites and discussion boards. They were asked 129 questions about their sexual health, behaviors and preferences. More than two-thirds (68.5 percent) were married, and most wanted to keep their activities secret. Over 85 percent of participants held at least a Bachelor's or graduate degree and enjoyed an annual income above that of the average American household. The primary sex partner of about 40 percent of the married or partnered men had a health condition (often sexually related such as being postmenopausal or suffering from vaginal dryness) that limited her engagement in sexual activities.
According to Milrod, there is an almost universal perception that older men do not pay for sex or even regularly engage sexually. "It was therefore extremely surprising to see that the advancing age of the men in our sample was associated with a higher frequency of buying sex," she explains. 
Compared with other, more general and inclusive populations of sex buyers, the survey participants were much more active in purchasing sex, with more than half reporting that they had paid for sex between 13 and 24 times during the last 12 months.
Participants most often engaged in fellatio without a condom and penile-vaginal intercourse with a condom, preferably with a White provider aged between 26 and 45 years old. Almost one-third of the men saw one sex provider exclusively, while 44 percent had at some stage become emotionally attached or fallen in love with a provider. 
Men were willing to pay for more than just sex. Married men often sought the so-called "girlfriend experience," while other high-income earners with no spouse or partner enjoyed non-sexual activities with a provider, such as dining out, attending cultural events or going on vacation together.
"These encounters appear to be a reliable outlet for sexual contact and physical intimacy sometimes not available in their primary relationships, partly due to a reduced pool of female partners available for sexual experiences," Monto explains.
Over half of the sample reported having talked with their doctor about sex after turning 60, and 80 percent said they initiate the topic. The findings highlight that medical practitioners should not assume that old age is a barrier to paying for sex.
"The uncomplicated and reliable access to willing sexual partners, even if remunerated, seems to ensure that our participants can choose to participate in sexual activities as long as they are physically and financially able," says Milrod.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

High standards produce mixed effects on marriages

 There is a tension between what spouses demand from their marriages and what they are capable of attaining from those marriages, according to recent psychology research. The results are published in the April issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 


High standards, whether in caring, support, or independence, improve satisfaction only in strong marriages. For less strong marriages, such as those involving higher levels of indirect hostility or more severe problems, high standards further erode the relationship. 
"Some people demand too much from their marriages because they are requiring that their marriages fulfill needs that they are not capable of achieving, either because they have limited time, energy, effort, or skills to apply to their marriages," says Dr. James McNulty, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University and author of the study. 
"But other people demand too little from their marriages. Their marriage is a potential source of personal fulfillment that they are not exploiting," says McNulty. "Ultimately, spouses appear to be best off to the extent that they ask of their marriages as much as, but not more than, their marriages are able to give them."
The researchers utilized data from 135 newlywed couples living in eastern Tennessee. To start, each partner separately completed surveys to measure several aspects of their own standards as well as the severity of relationship problems and marital satisfaction. 
The newlyweds also participated in marital discussions that were video recorded, where researchers studied various aspects of verbal communication to assess the couple's indirect hostility with each other. The couples continued to report their marital satisfaction via a questionnaire every six months for four years. 
"When it comes to verbal problem-solving, indirect hostility is more destructive than direct hostility," says McNulty. "Prior work by our lab and others indicates that direct hostility, such as blaming the partner for a problem and demanding that the partner change, can have important benefits to some couples, specifically those who need to change. The key is that direct hostility communicates that there is a need for change and even how each partner wants things to change. Our prior research indicates indirect hostility is harmful for all couples." 
As newlyweds, husbands and wives reported being relatively satisfied with their marriages and relatively high standards. Yet their reports also indicated that some couples were less happy and demanded less than others. Initially, spouses were observed to have engaged in relatively low levels of indirect hostility on average, yet there was substantial variability in these, as well.
The extent to which spouses' standards were associated with changes in satisfaction over time depended on the couples' tendencies to engage in indirect hostility. Couples that worked well together, as indicated by low levels of indirect hostility, were better able to meet higher standards and thus showed high satisfaction to the extent that they held such standards, but lower satisfaction to the extent that they held lower standards. 
The opposite was true for couples that didn't work well together. Those couples did poorer to the extent that they held high standards because they were unable to meet them, but better to the extent that they held lower standards that they were able to meet. 
"Each marriage is different; people differ in their compatibility, their skills, and the external stressors they face," says McNulty. "All of these play an important role in determining how successful a marriage will be and thus how much people should demand from it." 
"This research suggests people need to have some idea of what they can get from marriage before they get it. That is obviously difficult, which may explain why couples experience a mismatch between what they demand and what they can actually attain," says McNulty.
Although high standards may motivate partners to work to improve or maintain their relationships, this research highlights the fact that various constraints prevent some spouses from meeting higher standards despite even the highest motivations; indeed, some relationships face larger obstacles to success than do others and some spouses possess more and better interpersonal skills than do others. 
"Couples need to realize their strengths and weaknesses and calibrate their standards accordingly," advises McNulty.


Monday, March 14, 2016

College graduates have different marriage, divorce, cohabitation, and childbearing patterns than everybody else


The last 60 years have seen the emergence of a dramatic socioeconomic gradient in marriage, divorce, cohabitation, and childbearing. The divide is between college graduates and others: those without four-year degrees have family patterns and trajectories very similar to those of high school graduates.  

A new paper documents these trends and shows that, compared with college graduates, less-educated women are more likely to enter into cohabiting partnerships early and bear children while cohabiting, are less likely to transition quickly into marriage, and have much higher divorce rates.


There are two broad sets of explanations for these differences. Conventional explanations focus on the diminished economic prospects of less-educated men. The authors propose an alternative explanation focusing on educational differences in demand for marital commitment. As the gains from traditional gender-based specialization have declined, the value of marriage has decreased relative to cohabitation, which offers many of the gains of co-residence with less commitment. 

The paper argues that college graduate parents use marriage as a commitment device to facilitate intensive joint investments in their children. For less educated couples for whom such investments are less desirable or less feasible, commitment and, hence, marriage has less value relative to cohabitation. The resulting socioeconomic divergence has implications for children and for future inequality. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Online Dating in Middle and Later Life


Gendered Expectations and Experiences

  1. Summer McWilliams1
  2. Anne E. Barrett1
  1. 1Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
  1. Summer McWilliams, Department of Sociology, Florida State University, 526 Bellamy Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA. Email: smcwilliams@fsu.edu

Abstract

Rising numbers of single middle-aged and older adults encouraged a proliferation of online dating websites targeting this population. However, few studies examine aging adults’ involvement in online dating. This study uses semistructured interviews with 18 online daters aged 53 to 74 and 2 romance coaches to examine how aspects of their online expectations and experiences are shaped by age and gender. Analyses reveal that men seek committed relationships, whereas women desire companionship without demanding caring roles. Different barriers to dating increase the appeal of online strategies: Men face narrow social networks, while women face competition from younger women and friendship norms limiting the pool of eligible partners. Both genders screen for youthful characteristics and attempt to convey youthful images of themselves. Men’s criteria center on physical attractiveness, whereas women’s focus is on abilities. In constructing profiles, women focus on their looks and sociability and men on their financial and occupational successes.                   

Friday, February 26, 2016

Women who feel more at risk of crime also prefer physically dominant partners


Women who prefer physically formidable and dominant mates (PPFDM) tend to feel more at risk of crime regardless of the situation or risk factors present, according to research from the University of Leicester.
Previous research suggests that women who grow up in high-crime areas and perceive they are at risk of criminal victimisation find dominant men more appealing, perhaps because of the protection they can offer. 
However, the University of Leicester team suggests that women who are attracted to dominant men generally feel more at risk of victimisation, even when their risk of victimisation is actually low. 
PhD researcher Hannah Ryder from the University of Leicester's Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour, explained: "PPFDM appears to be associated with women's self-assessed vulnerability. Women with strong PPFDM feel relatively more at risk, fearful, and vulnerable to criminal victimisation compared to their counterparts, regardless of whether there are situational risk factors present.
"Our research suggests that the relationship between feelings of vulnerability, as measured by fear of crime, and women's preference for physically formidable and dominant mates is stable, and does not update according to environmental circumstances or relative level of protection needed."
The study involved assessing whether the relationship between fear of crime and PPFDM was higher for crimes that cause relatively higher physical and psychological pain, such as sexual assault.
Across two studies in the lab and field, women observed images and real life situations that varied in the risk of crime, such as crime hotspots and safespots, and were asked to rate their perceived risk of victimisation - a measure of fear of crime - of various crimes. 
This included male - and female - perpetrated physical assault and robbery and male-perpetrated rape. 
In both studies, the research team also administered a scale that measured women's PPFDM, and assessed the association between women's PPFDM score and their risk perception scores. 
The study found that women's fear of crime significantly differed in response to crime cues - for example location and time of day - and that overall fear of crime was related to PPFDM. 
However, the relationship between PPFDM and fear did not vary in relation to risk situation, perpetrator gender, or crime type, suggesting that the psychological mechanisms underlying the relationship between perceived risk of victimisation and PPFDM are general in nature. 
The research was undertaken as part of Hannah's PhD project at the University of Leicester and was funded by a Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG) research grant. 
Study co-authors include Dr Heather Flowe from Loughborough University, Dr John Maltby and Lovedeep Rai from the University of Leicester and Dr Phil Jones from the University of Birmingham. 
The study, 'Women's fear of crime and preference for formidable mates: How specific are the underlying psychological mechanisms?' published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour is available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090513816300034

Thursday, February 25, 2016

What keeps passion alive in long-term relationships


A Chapman University psychologist and his interdisciplinary research team have just published a study examining the sexual satisfaction -- or dissatisfaction -- of heterosexual couples in long-term relationships, and what contributes to keeping sexual passion alive. In one of the largest studies to date that scientifically examines what contributes to a satisfying long-term sex life, the findings indicate foreplay, setting the mood, mixing it up, and expressing love are all factors that satisfied couples said they do regularly.
"Sexual satisfaction and maintenance of passion were higher among people who had sex more frequently, received more oral sex, had more consistent orgasms, incorporated more variety of sexual acts, took the time to set a mood and practiced effective sexual communication," said David Frederick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University and lead author of the study. "Almost half of satisfied and dissatisfied couples read sexual self-help books and magazine articles, but what set sexually satisfied couples apart was that they actually tried some of the ideas."
To gauge sexual satisfaction over time, couples were asked to rate their sex satisfaction in the first six months together and then rate it for now. Dr. Frederick's team learned that the overwhelming majority (83 percent) of people reported they were sexually satisfied in the first six months of the relationship. Only half of people, however, reported currently being satisfied (43 percent of men and 55 percent of women), with the rest feeling neutral (16 percent of men and 18 percent of women) or dissatisfied (41 percent of men and 27 percent of women). Another set of items addressed whether respondents believed their sexual passion was the same, less or better now than early in their relationship.
"We looked at common romantic and sexual behaviors that are rarely assessed in the literature but are likely important contributors to sexual satisfaction," said Dr. Frederick. "For example, while sexual variety is deemed important for sexual satisfaction, evidence on the effectiveness of specific forms of variety -- such as showering together or wearing lingerie or use of sex toys -- is lacking."
Specifically, the research team found that sexually satisfied men and women engaged in more intimate behaviors, such as cuddling, gentle and deep kissing and laughing together during sexual activity; incorporated more acts of sexual variety such as trying new sexual positions or acting out fantasies; more frequently set a romantic or sexual mood such as lighting candles or playing music, and used communication effectively, such as saying "I love you" during sex or sending a teasing text earlier in the day. They also found that sexually satisfied men and women gave and received more oral sex, orgasmed more frequently, and had sex more frequently.
Some key findings of the research included:
  • Satisfied men and women were more likely to report that their last sexual encounter with their partner was "passionate," "loving and tender," or "playful". Nearly half of sexually dissatisfied women (43 percent) said that they were "just going through the motions for my partner's sake" compared to only 13 percent of sexually dissatisfied men during their last sexual encounter. Few people reported feeling pressured into sex by their partner (2 to 3 percent).
  • About half of satisfied men (49 percent) and women (45 percent) reported their last sexual encounter lasted more than 30 minutes, compared to only 26 percent of dissatisfied men and 19 percent of dissatisfied women.
  • Satisfied men and women were more likely than dissatisfied men and women to say they: tried a new sexual position, wore sexy lingerie, took a shower or bath together, talked about or acted out fantasies, gave or had a massage, went on a romantic getaway, tried anal stimulation, made a date night to have sex, or used a sex toy together.
  • Feeling desired by their partners appears to be more of a problem for men than for women. Only 59 percent of men compared to 42 percent of women reported they felt less desired by their partner now than in the beginning. In contrast, two-thirds of men compared with half of women reported feeling as much desire, or more desire, for their partner now as in the beginning of the relationship. 
  • Most men and women reported feeling the same or more emotional closeness during sex now than in the first six months of their relationship (69 percent of men and 72 percent of women). Less than half of dissatisfied men and women, however, felt this way.
Dr. Janet Lever, a co-author on the study, stated "It was encouraging to learn that more than one-third of couples kept passion alive, even after a decade or two together. That won't happen on auto pilot; these couples made a conscious effort to ward off routinization of sex."
The study, called, What Keeps Passion Alive? Sexual Satisfaction is Associated with Sexual Communication, Mood Setting, Sexual Variety, Oral Sex, Orgasm, and Sex Frequency in a National U.S. Study, examined more than 38,747 married or cohabiting heterosexual men and women in the U.S. who had been with their partner for at least three years. The study is published in The Journal of Sex Research, and can be found here. The average age of the sample was 40 years old for women and 46 years old for men.