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Older people still have sex, but it’s the intimacy and affection that matters more

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Sexuality is still an important part of life for older people, but it’s seldom discussed and rarely researched.

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Sexuality encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction and what we think, feel and believe about them. It has been a research focus for over a hundred years, and highlighted as an important part of the human experience. Since the first studies on human sexuality in the 1940s, research has consistently demonstrated that sexual interest and activity are sustained well into old age. However, only a fraction of the research has explored sexuality in the later years of life.

Most of the early research on sexuality and ageing looked at the sexual behaviours and biology of older adults, generally ignoring the wider concept of sexuality. When researchers did discuss sexuality more broadly, many referred to sexuality as the domain of the young, and emphasised this was a major barrier to the study of sexuality in older adults.

Sexuality in later life ignored

Towards the end of the 20th century, research expanded to include attitudes towards sexual expression in older adults, and the biological aspects of sexuality and ageing. Consistently, the research showed sexual expression is possible for older adults, and sustained sexual activity into old age is more likely for those who had active sex lives earlier in life.

By the late 1980s, there was a strong focus on the biological aspects of ageing. This expanded to include the reasons behind sexual decline. The research found these were highly varied and many older adults remain sexually active well into later life.

But despite evidence adults continue to desire and pursue sexual expression well into later life, both society in general and many health professionals have inadvertently helped perpetuate the myth of the asexual older person. This can happen through an unintentional lack of recognition, or an avoidance of a topic that makes some people uncomfortable.

Why does this matter?

These ageist attitudes can have an impact on older adults not only in their personal lives, but also in relation to their health needs. Examples include the failure of medical personnel to test for sexually transmissible infections in older populations, or the refusal of patients to take prescribed medications because of adverse impacts on erection rigidity. We need more health practitioners to be conscious of and incorporate later life sexuality into the regular health care of older adults. We still have a long way to go.

By ignoring the importance of sexuality for many older adults, we fail to acknowledge the role that sexuality plays in many people’s relationships, health, well-being and quality of life. Failure to address sexual issues with older patients may lead to or exacerbate marital problems and result in the withdrawal of one or both partners from other forms of intimacy. Failure to discuss sexual health needs with patients can also lead to incorrect medical diagnoses, such as the misdiagnosis of dementia in an older patient with HIV.

It’s not about ‘the deed’ itself

In a recent survey examining sexuality in older people, adults aged between 51 and 89 were asked a series of open-ended questions about sexuality, intimacy and desire, and changes to their experiences in mid-life and later life. This information was then used to create a series of statements that participants were asked to group together in ways they felt made sense, and to rank the importance of each statement.

The most important themes that emerged from the research encompassed things such as partner compatibility, intimacy and pleasure, and factors that influence the experience of desire or the way people express themselves sexually. Although people still considered sexual expression and sexual urges to be important, they were not the focus for many people over 45.

Affectionate and intimate behaviours, trust, respect and compatibility were more important aspects of sexuality than intercourse for most people. Overall, the message was one about the quality of the experience and the desire for connection with a partner, and not about the frequency of sexual activities.

People did discuss barriers to sexual expression and intimacy such as illness, mood or lack of opportunity or a suitable partner, but many felt these were not something they focused on in their own lives. This is in line with the data that shows participants place a greater importance on intimacy and affectionate behaviours such as touching, hugging and kissing, rather than intercourse.

These results help us challenge the existing stereotype of the “asexual older person” and the idea intercourse is necessary to be considered sexually active. They also make it clear researchers and health practitioners need to focus on a greater variety of ways we can improve the experience and expressions of sexuality and intimacy for adults from mid-life onwards beyond medical interventions (like Viagra) that focus on prolonging or enhancing intercourse.

Complete Article HERE!

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You’re probably not ‘totally straight,’ according to new research

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Society tends to be less accepting of men who are sexually fluid.

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  • There is a new type of sexual orientation called “mostly straight,” according to new research.
  • This sexuality entails identifying as straight but occasionally experiencing same-sex attraction and arousal.
  • Men have a harder time coming out as mostly straight because society is less forgiving of male sexual fluidity.

If there is anything to be gleaned from the past thousand years of human interaction, it is that human sexuality has never been simple.

And now, we have more scientific literature to back up the claim. According to recent research from Ritch Savin-Williams, a psychology professor of human development at Cornell University, there is a spot on the sexual spectrum that is not straight, gay, or bisexual — it’s called being “mostly straight.”

Savin-Williams’ conclusion stems from research on sexuality that he conducted and published in a book titled “Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Young Men“.

In one study Savin-Williams worked on, participants who identified as men or women were shown pornography. By measuring the dilation of their pupils — an indicator of sexual arousal, as proven by a previous study of his published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Savin-Williams and his team were able to conclude that women were aroused by pornography featuring women with men and women with women. Men had similar results, which Savin-Williams calls being “mostly straight.”

This is not to say that no one is straight. “I wouldn’t say that [no one is totally straight] and I never have, despite press reports,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “I believe the vast majority of men are exclusively straight.”

Sexuality is a spectrum, but society doesn’t always allow room for male transgressions.

Savin-Williams is not the first scientist to deal with the idea that sexual preference isn’t quite as rigid as was previously believed. Many people already know about the Kinsey scale, the near-ubiquitous system that allows people to gauge their sexuality on a sliding scale, which revealed that people do not always fit exclusively into heterosexual or homosexual categories. In fact, according to Savin-Williams, the Kinsey scale allows space for people who might identify as mostly straight.

The Kinsey scale.

“Because the seven-point Kinsey Scale was a continuum from exclusively straight to exclusively gay/lesbian, there was an obvious place between exclusively straight and bisexual leaning straight — Kinsey 1s or mostly straight,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER.

But men have largely been excluded from the sexual fluidity narrative.

“Very few researchers seemed to notice these [sexually fluid or mostly straight] individuals, except with women,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “Then, while interviewing straight men for a study, I discovered that a number of them said that they were not exclusively straight, but mostly straight. These self-reports were confirmed by their confidential surveys and by their physiological reactions to watching porn: their pupils dilated to men masturbating, not as much as their pupils dilated to women masturbating, but an elevation nevertheless.”

This exclusion is due to the fact that, as Savin-Williams said, conventional society doesn’t allow much room for variance or growth in male sexuality.

“Men are affected by the belief that any level of same-sex attraction must mean you’re gay. Our culture likes our men simple — gay or straight,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “We give women greater freedom to be flexible, to be affected by the environment; they can act ‘masculine’ and not be labeled lesbian but men can’t act ‘feminine’ without being thought gay.”

Women have sexually fluid representation, but men don’t get as much.

This is certainly true in popular culture. It’s hard to come across a movie or TV show these days that doesn’t feature a complex, sexually fluid female character, like Eleanor Shellstrop on “The Good Place” or Petra Solano on “Jane The Virgin.”

Male characters have some sexually fluid representation “Jane The Virgin,” for example, has a male character, Adam, who is bisexual) but, generally, male figures in popular culture are relegated to one of two binaries: 100% straight or 100% gay.

Savin-Williams believes that the answer to helping men and women becoming more comfortable with mostly straight men relies, in part, upon “more famous people coming out as mostly straight,” he told INSIDER. “Josh Hutcherson began this years ago, but few have followed. I would love to see more young men come out as mostly straight to their friends and families.”

More pop culture representation wouldn’t hurt, either.

“There are more mostly straights among the millennial generation than in previous generations, largely because there’s an incredible acceptance and celebration of sexual, romantic, and gender diversity. Young people believe in the spectrum of sexuality and romance,” Savin-Williams told INSIDER. “There are already more mostly straight women and men than bisexual and gay/lesbian individuals combined. Mostly straights need to be freed from their closets — how about a movie or two?”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to close the female orgasm gap

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Studies show sexual pleasure, self-esteem and satisfaction profoundly impacts our wellbeing. That’s why increasing our ‘sexual IQ’ matters

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In this moment of brave truth telling and female empowerment, it’s time to address one topic that’s been missing far too long from our conversations around sex: female pleasure.

Study after study show that sexual pleasure, self-esteem and satisfaction have profound impacts on our physical and mental wellbeing. It is a natural and vital part of our health and happiness.

As a society, we accept this premise fairly easily when it comes to men and they learn it at a young age. When discovering how babies are made, male ejaculation (ie his pleasure) plays a featured role. Men feel entitled to pleasure and our culture supports that. There are endless nicknames for male anatomy and jokes about masturbation; and TV shows, movies, advertisements and porn all cater to their fantasies.

Women, on the other hand, appear mostly as the object in these fantasies rather than as subjects. In middle school sex ed classes, drawings of female anatomy often don’t even include the clitoris, as if women’s reproductive function is somehow separate from their pleasure. Female pleasure remains taboo and poorly understood. There is little scientific research on the topic and even doctors shy away from discussing it: according to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, less than 30% of gynecologists routinely ask their patients about pleasure and sexual satisfaction.

This silence has real consequences. Almost 30% of college-age women can’t identify their clitoris on an anatomy test, according to a study from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Another survey by the UK gynecological cancer charity, Eve Appeal, finds that women are more familiar with men’s bodies than their own: while 60% could correctly label a diagram of the male body, just 35% of women correctly labeled female anatomy. (For the record, men scored even worse.)

Lack of sexual health knowledge is associated with lower rates of condom and contraceptive use. It also contributes to pleasure disparities in the bedroom. While gay and straight men climax about 85% of the time during sex, women having sex with women orgasm about 75% of the time and women having sex with men come last at just 63%, research from the Kinsey Institute shows. The reasons for this “orgasm gap” are surely multifaceted, but we can start to address it by talking more about the importance of women’s pleasure.

Let’s talk about what women’s sexual anatomy really looks like, so that we can normalize differences, reduce body shame and improve self-care. We should encourage self-exploration from an early age so that women (and men) learn what feels good to them and how that changes as we move through the different stages of our lives.

Knowing our own bodies can promote our own health and wellbeing, and empower our relationships. The Kinsey study showed that compared to women who orgasmed less frequently, women who experienced more pleasure were more likely to ask for what they want in bed, act out fantasies and praise their partner for something they did in bed, among other things. We can’t talk about what we like or don’t like with our partners if we don’t know ourselves.

In order to cultivate a culture of true gender equality, we need candid conversations and accurate, sex-positive information. Without this, pop culture, pornography and outdated cultural institutions fill in these gaps with unhealthy stereotypes and unrealistic expectations that center on male pleasure and leave women in a supporting role.

Through our willingness to speak openly about sex and to seek out empowering information, we can increase our “sexual IQ” and make more informed choices that will improve our sexual satisfaction, happiness and wellbeing throughout our lives.

As author Peggy Orenstein says “We’ve raised a generation of girls to have a voice, to expect egalitarian treatment in the homes, in the classroom, in the workplace. Now it’s time to demand that ‘intimate justice’ in their personal lives as well.”

Complete Article HERE!

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9 reasons having sex is good for you, according to science

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By Alexandra Thompson

Science reveals nine ways having sex benefits your health.

According to California-based obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Sherry Ross, few things in life are better for people’s hearts, bodies and souls than getting intimate between the sheets.

From burning calories to boosting the immune system and even fighting the signs of ageing, numerous studies reveal regular love making seriously boosts people’s wellbeing.

Sex is even a natural painkiller and could help combat insomnia, Dr Ross adds.

Below, Dr Ross outlines the nine ways, proven by science, being active between the sheets boosts people’s health and wellbeing.

Burns calories

Researchers from the University of Quebec at Montreal analysed 21 heterosexual couples with an average age of 22.

Results revealed women burn, on average, 69.1 calories when they have sex for just under 25 minutes.

This calorie-burning number climbs higher still if you are on top, in a squat position or having an orgasm.

Dr Ross told NetDoctor: ‘The act of sexual intimacy can be a great workout and counts as such for many as their daily exercise regimen.’

Boosts the immune system

A study by Indiana University found women with healthy sex lives produce higher levels of antibodies, which fight off infections.

Dr Ross said: ‘Regular sex makes for a stronger immune system, fighting off common illnesses such as colds and having less sick days from work.

‘Sex also helps lower your blood pressure and lowers your risk of heart attacks.’

Prevents incontinence

For women suffering from urinary incontinence, which is common after childbirth, incorporating Kegel exercises into your sex life can strengthen your pelvic floor and improve bladder control, according to Dr Ross.

If this isn’t enough, such exercises also heighten orgasms for both you and your partner, she adds.

Is a natural painkiller

Contracting genital muscles generate a pleasurable feeling that can reduce the discomfort of menstrual cramps, headaches and joint pain, according to Dr Ross.

She adds tracking your menstrual cycle and scheduling in an orgasm before your first period could prevent crippling discomfort.

Aids insomnia

After an orgasm, endorphins and the hormone prolactin are released, which relax the body and mind to promote sleep, Dr Ross claims.

Boosts pregnancy chances – even if you’re not ovulating!

Researchers from the Kinsey Institute and Indiana University found women who have sex when not ovulating create an environment in their wombs that make it more hospitable for growing embryos.

This is due to orgasms activating the immune system, which then seems to prepare women for even the possibility of pregnancy.

Improves mental health

According to the sex therapist Vanessa Marin, skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin, which is also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’.

This can reduce anxiety and stress, while promoting feelings of closeness.

Prevents wrinkles

In 2013, UK-based neuropsychologist Dr David Weeks questioned more than 3,500 people about their sex lives over 10 years.

Results revealed those who have regular, healthy sex lives look up to seven years younger than people who do not get intimate two-to-three times a week.

Dr Weeks believes this is due to the release of endorphins that boost circulation and reduce stress, as well as the production of human growth hormones, which promote skin elasticity.

Makes you brainier

According to a study published in the Journals of Gerontology, sexually-active older adults perform better in verbal and visual tests.

This may be due to the release of oxytocin and ‘the happy hormone’ dopamine, which have both been linked to improved cognitive function.

Complete Article HERE!

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More Men Than You Think Identify As ‘Mostly Straight’

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In 2013, Hunger Games actor Josh Hutcherson told an interviewer for Out magazine that he was, in his own words, “mostly straight.” “Maybe I could say right now I’m 100 percent straight. But who knows? In a fucking year, I could meet a guy and be like, ‘Whoa, I’m attracted to this person’ … I’ve met guys all the time that I’m like, ‘Damn, that’s a good-looking guy,’ you know? I’ve never been, like, ‘Oh, I want to kiss that guy.’ I really love women. But I think defining yourself as 100% anything is kind of near-sighted and close-minded.”

At the time, the actor’s comments attracted considerable attention from the media, and the interview caught my eye, too. Hutcherson typifies the young men (he’s 25 years old) I’ve interviewed over the years in my work as a research psychologist: those who embrace sexual ambiguity over neat and simple identity boxes. I even borrowed his words as the title for my new book, Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Men. In it, I draw from the experiences of young men to make the case that an increasing number say they’re straight, but feel a slight but enduring sexual or romantic desire for men.

When I tell people about my work, they often assume these men are joking, or that they are really closeted gays. They’re not. Perhaps if a young woman were to make the same claims as these men, we wouldn’t be surprised: Women, not men, are supposedly fluid in their sexual and romantic lives. The 40 young men I interviewed for my book would disagree. Here’s a small sampling of what they’ve told me.

“I’m not completely heterosexual. I like to think of myself as fluid. I have man crushes when a male is so cool … I like the idea of male fluidity.” — Leo, age 21

“If I were to meet a man who I was attracted to, I would not be afraid to be attracted to them.” — Demetri, age 19

“He opened my eyes that it is not wrong for a straight guy to have attractions or crushes on other guys.” — Brady, age 18

“I wrestled with this guy, my drill partner, and we got very close. We never kissed, but emotionally we kissed.” — Kevin, age 19

“I’ve had bromances, I guess you could say. And man crushes … I would say I’m 99 percent straight with my 1 percent being those moments where noticing or thinking what would it be like to have sex with a guy.” — Ben, age 22

These men challenge existing assumptions that a man is necessarily straight, gay, or, perhaps, bisexual, and that his sexual arousals and romantic desires are stable, categorical, and, therefore, predictable. But what if he doesn’t fit into existing sexual categories or acknowledges that sometimes he desires sex or romance with his “nonpreferred” sex (men)? Is he simply fooling himself — or might he be illustrating a hidden and poorly understood dimension of male sexuality?

The short answer is that we simply don’t know, because research on male sexuality frequently combines him with straight or bisexual men, or deletes him altogether because researchers aren’t sure what to make of him. But so far, the difference seems to be this: Mostly straight men are more attracted to women and less attracted to men than are bisexual men, suggesting that they are neither exclusively straight, nor are they bisexual.

We like male sexuality to be simplistic and straightforward, but this can only be achieved by ignoring complexity. In so doing, however, we discount insights uncovered 70 years ago, when Kinsey demonstrated that sexuality is a continuum for both sexes. And, perhaps more critically, we negate young men who proclaim that their sexual and romantic desires and attachments are on a spectrum, not forever fixed in time or permanently housed in gay or straight identity boxes. We fail to recognize that they are “something else” — not exclusively straight, not bisexual, but mostly straight.

During the past decade, researchers in my sex and gender lab have reviewed the scientific literature about these young men — including youth who in a previous generation had described themselves as “straight but not narrow,” “heteroflexible,” or “bicurious.” We also surveyed and interviewed hundreds of young men about their sexual and romantic histories and measured their pupil and genital responses while they watched videos of naked men and women. In brief, here’s what we’ve found.

More men than you think identify as mostly straight. When given the option to identify as mostly straight, approximately 5 to 10 percent of men do so. This is especially true among millennials, who tend to possess greater sexual knowledge, freedom, curiosity, and exploration than earlier generations. This percentage is, by the way, higher than the percentage of men who self-identify as gay or bisexual combined. And yet these numbers are likely conservative, underrepresenting the true proportion of men who are mostly straight.

Perhaps this is because these men believe they don’t have the similar leeway to choose alternative sexualities. Or, perhaps, they fail to recognize that their bromances, “bud sex” activities, and man crushes imply something important about their sexual or romantic orientation. Also suppressing the number of men willing to identify as mostly straight is the widespread belief in previous generations that any amount of same-sex attractions or crushes makes one at least bisexual and, likely, gay.

“Mostly straight” doesn’t mean “secretly gay.” Our research has found that a mostly straight identity remains moderately stable over time. If a mostly straight individual drifts, the movement is usually between a straight and a mostly straight identity — almost never toward a bisexual or gay identity. This finding challenges the widespread belief that a mostly straight man is in reality someone who is gay but is afraid to emerge from his closet. (Indeed, mostly straight men tend to be exceptionally pro-gay.)

Guy sex and man crushes should be considered an addition, not a subtraction. A mostly straight man exhibits patterns of sexual and romantic attraction, fantasy, and infatuation that are distinctly unique from other men, though, to be clear, he leans closer to the straight. He has about as many female sex partners and romances as a straight man but, as you might expect, he is also more likely to have sex with another guy. His sexual behavior tends to involve genital touching, mutual masturbation, or receptive oral sex, but not anal sex. Although he might develop an intense man crush and cuddle with a best friend, he is considerably less likely to fall passionately in love or want to date this friend. However, he might also agree with interviewee Dillon, age 20: “If the guy is attractive enough … You just never know.” Guy sex and man crushes can be thought of as an addition, not a subtraction, to his heterosexuality.

There is even (some) physiological evidence to support this theory. My lab has found that physiological measures of sexual orientation which are relatively free of conscious control confirm the existence of mostly straight men. These individuals had arousal patterns — penis enlargement and pupil dilation — to pornographic videos of women masturbating that were identical to those of straight men. In contrast to straight men (who had almost zero arousal), they were also slightly aroused by men masturbating, though less so than were bisexual men. Thus, we observed that whereas a mostly straight man didn’t differ from a straight man in his physiological responses to women, he did in his heightened arousal to men. This suggests that he wasn’t lying about his self-reported mostly straightness.

Historically, the social ramifications for owning any degree of homoeroticism prompted many men to minimize or disown their same-sex desires. However, increased tolerance for diverse sexual and gender expression among millennials has given permission to this formerly unrecognized group to embrace the breadth of their sexual and emotional lives. Some we’ve interviewed have maintained this identity and orientation for many years, perhaps even a lifetime, even as they live traditional heterosexual lives.They’re not closeted gays who over time gravitate toward same-sex encounters. They’re mostly straight.

Complete Article HERE!

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