The conclusions drawn by these six studies into human sexuality are both fascinating and insightful. Do you know these six facts about sex?
One: Men and women respond differently to sexual images
The results of this one might surprise you. A study undertaken by Emory University in the USA tracked participants eye movements and brain activity as they looked at sexually explicit photographs. What they found was that men looked at the faces in the images far more often than women did, and everyone in the study flipped quickly past close-ups of genitalia.
Two: Arousal comes before desire
Desire is your interest sex, usually mental, while arousal is your body’s physical response to a sexual situation. A 2004 study found that our bodies respond to sexual imagery before our minds have even engaged with what we are seeing. Our bodies experience arousal before our desire has even had time to kick in.
Three: Our background influences the body types we idealise
A lot has been written about the effects of the culture in which we are raised on what we find beautiful. In particular, whether our cultural background can affect the body type to which we are most attracted. A survey of nearly 7500 people worldwide found that places with low socioeconomic status tended to idealise a fuller figure, while those living in countries with high socioeconomic status favoured thinner bodies. The study also found that high media exposure in an area made the inhabitants much more likely to idealise unnaturally thin body types.
Four: Bisexuality exists, and it’s not just a ‘phase’
A 2008 study of 70 women, undertaken over a 10 year period, looked into whether bisexuality was a legitimate sexual orientation, or whether it was simply an ‘experimental’ phase for heterosexual women and a ‘transitional’ phase for homosexual women. All the women involved in the study identified as lesbian, bisexual or sexually without a label. The results showed that bisexuality was a stable pattern of attraction over the 10-year period, suggesting it is as legitimate a sexual orientation as heterosexuality or homosexuality.
Five: Men and women may not have different sex drives
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in the USA conducted an analysis of more than 800 studies of our sexual habits, conducted over a period of 15 years. The results showed that the idea that men and women have intrinsically different sex drives is debatable. It was clear that there is a disparity in sexual desire in couples who had been together for an extended period of time. However, rather than a woman’s sex drive decreasing as a matter of course, the results showed that a woman’s desire for sex decreases as a result of monogamy.
Six: Orgasms get better with age
A survey has shown that the quality and frequency of orgasms improves as we get older. For example, the survey found only 61 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 experienced orgasms during sex, compared with 70 per cent of women in their 50s. It was suggested that this is because women and their partners become more sexually experienced with age, and they have more confidence in the bedroom. The intimacy experienced in a long-term relationship can also improve sexual confidence.