When it comes to sex there’s no doubt that men and women view the ball game differently from each other. Media, and of course, society portrays men as primitive animals ready to go at it at any time. Women, on the other hand, are usually on the other side of the spectrum. They need just the right lighting, a romantic dinner with a long deep conversation before even thinking of jumping into bed with someone. But does science support this long-held notion? In some senses, yes.
When it comes to sex drive, lots of people have different assumptions about its nature. But it’s also extremely subjective. Scientists do go the lengths of physically measuring arousal in the genitals. Others prefer the much less invasive method of surveys. Questions they ask usually revolve around these aspects.1
- Spontaneous thoughts about sex
- Frequency and variety of sexual fantasies
- How someone wants to have sex
- How many sexual partners they’d like
- How they feel about various sexual practices
- Willingness to forego sex
- Initiating versus refusing sex
- Making sacrifices for sex
For both sexes, the sexual response is different and it occurs at different times. For women, sexuality is more fluid. While men tend to be turned on by very specific things, women are physically aroused by a wider range.
Researchers measured genital arousal in both women and men while playing erotic films. Surprisingly, women were equally aroused by heterosexual sex as well as lesbian and gay sex, while men were only aroused by heterosexual and lesbian sex (gay men were only aroused by sex that involved men).2 This shows that women are much more flexible when it comes to what turns them on. There’s no set formula.
2. Psychological Factors
Women seem much more concerned with the narrative leading up to sex. They prefer to make an emotional connection before sex. For men, sex is the connection. It is how they express their intimacy with their partners. Women also tend to base their sexual fantasies around these narratives. Men are more likely to have fetishes for things like specific outfits, pieces of clothing like boots, or materials like leather and rubber.
3. Social Factors
Others suggest that the reason for women’s apparent sexual disinterest may be a result of social constructs. At some level, women don’t forget that the outcome of sex is children and they are the ones who end up pregnant and most likely will end up taking care of the child. They suggest that women’s repressed sexuality is because of these social structures, that places the nurturing role solely on women.
4. Hormonal Factors
Men have higher levels of testosterone which sensitizes their brain to action for sexual activity. This can be why they are so readily inclined to sex, even well into middle age. Testosterone does the same for women, their sexual peak is said to be in their 20s. This is when their testosterone levels may be at their highest.
By the time they hit their 40s, their testosterone levels are said to drop to about half that amount. This explains why married men feel like they’re having less sex than they desire and why married women are satisfied with the amount of sex they have with their husbands.
Of course, these are just the general statistics and there are plenty of people outside of this norm. At the end of the day, it’s important for you and your partner to have open conversations about your needs and expectations in the bedroom. There’s no shame in trying new things or consulting an expert. Whether you’re a man or a woman, there’s no reason to compromise on your sex life.
|↑1||Baumeister, Roy F., Kathleen R. Catanese, and Kathleen D. Vohs. “Is there a gender difference in strength of sex drive? Theoretical views, conceptual distinctions, and a review of relevant evidence.” Personality and social psychology review 5, no. 3 (2001): 242-273.|
|↑2||Lippa, Richard A. “The relation between sex drive and sexual attraction to men and women: A cross-national study of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men and women.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 36, no. 2 (2007): 209-222.|