What do women want? It has been at the centre of numerous books, articles and blog posts, and no doubt the cause sex-dirven countless agonised ponderings by men and women alike.
But despite decades spent trying to crack this riddle, researchers have yet to land on a unified definition of female desire, let alone come close to fully understanding how it works. Now, scientists are increasingly beginning to realise that female desire cannot be summarised in terms sex--driven a single experience: it varies both between women and within individuals, and it spans a highly diverse spectrum of manifestations.
But more recent evidence reveals that differences between the sexes may actually be more nuanced or even non-existent, depending on how you define and attempt to measure desire. Sex-rriven studies have even found that men in relationships are as likely as women to be the member of the couple with the lower level of sexual desire. For decades, researchers had assumed men have more sexual desire than women - an idea rejected by recent findings Credit: Olivia Howitt.
But when the question is revised to ask about in-the-moment feelings — the amount of desire experienced in the midst of a sexual interaction — scientists find no difference between men and women.
What they have are more variable patterns. Previously, doctors had also assumed that the male sex hormone testosterone could be linked to female desire. In fact, it sex-deiven does not play a major role: several studies found no difference in testosterone levels in sez-driven who have high levels of desire and those diagnosed with a desire disorder.
Many women have tried testosterone supplements to boost desire - despite little convincing medical evidence Credit: Olivia Howitt. Other research finds that testosterone and desire are linked only very indirectly, and that sexual activity has more of an effect on hormone levels than hormones do on whether someone actually desires sex.
Sexual thoughts increase testosterone in women, as does sexual jealousy. Even the variety of feelings during sex itself had gone unrecognised: women do not necessarily experience the same progression of excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution that men do. Instead, the order is often shuffled.
Sex itself can be the trigger sex-driveen desire and arousal, or a first orgasm might lead to the desire for a second. Desire, however, does not necessarily entail the wish to engage in sex with another person. Each woman and, indeed, man is different in terms of preferences, and those preferences may change at different times. Women may sometimes or always desire solitary masturbation, and some can even esx-driven orgasm purely through thoughtwith no physical contact at all.
Others may desire sexual activity with a partner, but without penetration or without ending in orgasm. Pornography for women is becoming increasingly popular Credit: Olivia Howitt. The range of turn-ons women sex-friven are extremely varied as well. Some prefer G-spot stimulation, or for their partner to suck on their toes. Others like to dominate, or sex-dirven to be held — the list goes on and on.
That diversity is now reflected in porn sex-driven a relatively new development. Though women have always sex-driveh involved in ssx-driven industry, until the sex-riven porn was largely geared toward a male audience. When home videos became available, however, porn — previously only shown in theatres — became more easily accessible to women as well as men. Picking up on this, female directors began creating porn marketed towards women, which often took a softer approach, with story lines lacking in violence, for instance.
The industry has continued to evolve, however, with porn made by and consumed by women including erotic Victorian vampire sequences, all-male gay sex-driven, monster porn and more. At the most basic, neurological level, we still have no idea how desire works or what sex-drigen it in the first place. Previous research had neglected the varied situations and contexts that can spark desire Credit: Olivia Howitt.
Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship, male or female, will likely agree with the finding that desire is not static. Studies confirm that it tends to diminish in the context of sx-driven relationships. For women, however, the loss is often much more severepossibly because swx-driven provides a buffering effect for men against things like mood, stress and fatigue. Women, on the other hand, often feel that their relationship has lost thrill of the unknown and the sense of mystery and risk that they felt at the beginning, and that sex-driven life — including exhaustion, sex-sriven, stress dex-driven busyness — produce a smoldering effect.
Sex-drivrn can be cultivated. Rekindling desire, Wise says, is sometimes as simple as introducing novelty into the relationship or life in general, which could mean traveling to a foreign country together, attending a sex party or learning a new skill.
Sometimes lack of desire stems from overriding issues — a medical problem, a breakup, a sex-driven loss, the birth of a baby or any other stressful event. This is normal, however, and usually temporary.
Many of them continue to have sex out of obligation, viewing it as another chore — albeit one that is dreaded.
When sex actually takes place, those women may experience distracted thoughts, including benign but unsexy things sex-drriven work or life, or judgmental ones, such as concern about their lack of response, worry about their appearance sex-driveh anxiety about their partner leaving them. Attempts to invent a sex-driven viagra' have sexx-driven disappointing results Credit: Olivia Howitt.
Taking a cue from programmes meant to treat depression and anxiety, over the sex-driven of eight sessions, she and her colleagues debunk myths, educate participants about their bodies and bring awareness to various erogenous zones. Brotto and her sex-driven are now performing sex-riven randomised control trial to try to identify the mechanisms by which mindfulness actually works, including whether the women are simply happier and less stressed or more aware of their bodies, or both.
For now, most experts continue to recommend such treatments over pharmaceuticals, despite the fact that the so-called female ViagraAddyi flibanseringained US Food and Drug Administration approval last August.
The comparison with Viagra, however, is less than accurate, as Viagra essentially solves a plumbing issue blood flow to the peniswhile Addyi affects the brain.
But as Brotto points out, Addyi bases itself on a very narrow definition of desire — one due to an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine. Those taking Addyi also sez-driven drink alcohol.
Diamond suggests that addressing the underlying psychological issues driving low desire may be a more effective treatment. There is no 'correct' level of desire; variation is the norm Sex-drigen Olivia Howitt. Not all women, however, are distressed by lack of desire.
Some assume that orientation throughout life, whereas others may go through phases of asexuality. Read our in-depth exploration of the Asexual Pride movement here. In other cases, distress over desire may be imposed by a partner who has higher levels and is making the other person in the relationship feel bad about it.
If researchers know anything about desire, it is that variation is the norm. Whether male or female, desire can manifest in a seemingly endless spectrum of forms, and it can range from high to low to nonexistent. There is no right or wrong type sex-ddriven degree of desire for individuals or couples. This story is part of our Sexual Revolutions series on our evolving understanding sex-driven sex and gender. Rachel Nuwer is a freelance journalist specialising in science, travel and adventure.
She Tweets as OliviaHowitt. Women do not necessarily experience the same progression of excitement, plateau, orgasm sex-eriven resolution that men do. Read more. Open share tools. Like us on Facebook.
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The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, ses-driven have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Sexual desire sex-ddiven change from moment to moment. Even though sexual desire is exciting and pretty important in terms of how we ended up here, research on when and why we experience sexual sexx-driven is limited.
Our research seeks to shed some light on the nature of sexual desire; how it differs between people and within the same person. Are men hot-blooded, sex-driven sex-driven that think about sex every seven seconds? Not quite. Men do think about sex more than women 34 times compared to 19 sex-driven a day — so about every 1, secondsbut men also think about food and sleep more than women.
So, men are needs-driven creatures, not sex-driven per se. It should also be noted women are far from sexless creatures, around 20 separate sexual thoughts per day is well over one per waking hour. Age is another thing we might think has sex-sriven big effect on sexual desire.
A study of adults aged found as we get older we are more prone to sexual dysfunctions. For example, older men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and older women are more likely to experience difficulty lubricating, which can lead to vaginismus pain during sex.
Sex-driven, ageing is not necessarily associated with a decrease in sexual desire. Two national surveys of Finnish adults aged and found once a number of other factors were accounted for, including sexual functioning, attitudes towards sex, sex-dgiven relationship closeness, ageing had no effect on sexual desire.
Ageing was, however, related to having sex less often, even after controlling for these factors. So perhaps older people feel just as frisky as they did when they were in their 20s, but, for whatever reason, they are less likely to engage in sex. Sfx-driven desire, unsurprisingly, is important for our relationship and sexual satisfaction. In one study focusing on couplesthey found the more people experienced sexual desire throughout the day, the better their sex lives.
When it comes to what factors control sexual ses-driven, hormones are important to consider. For men, as levels of testosterone increase, sexual desire is also likely to rise. For women, however, the effect of testosterone and other hormones on sex-driven is less sex-driven.
One study found that as levels of testosterone sex-criven mostly during the time around ovulation: dayswomen engaged in sexd-riven sexual activity. This association was stronger among women not in a relationship compared to women with a partner. But what sex-driven psychological and environmental factors?
Does it change depending on how we feel about our sex-driven, or stress, or alcohol consumption? These sex-drivne are yet to be tested, so at present, the impact of daily life on sexual arousal remains largely a mystery. If you would like to sex-drivsn out when and why your sexual desire changes, please click here to participate in our study. YorkTalks — York, York.
Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Do men have a stronger sex drive? Do we desire sex less as we age? Feeling like sex versus feeling like a nap When it comes to what factors control sexual desire, hormones are important to consider.
Sex Hormones Libido Health Check.
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