Good Habits – Is Masturbation One of Them?

Many of us have likely heard the old wives’ tale that masturbation will make you blind and result in hairy palms (particularly among men). Despite what your parents might have told you, I am sorry to report that research on solo sexual activity actually indicates that masturbation can result in a variety of HEALTHY and BENEFICIAL outcomes. So, before you go purchase a chastity belt or other variety of restraining device for your “extremely active solo artist” in order to save them from vision impairment and abnormal hair growth, check out the following benefits associated with masturbation.

Although not all occurrences of masturbation result in orgasm, many do. Consequently, research on the benefits of orgasm reveals that the physiological byproduct of orgasms is the release of endorphins into the body, which can help to reduce stress, relieve sexual tension, reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer in men, and improve issues associated with insomnia (Haake et al., 2004; Rao, Aswinidutt, Anil, Dhananjaya, & Hasan, 2009). In fact, there are some studies that have indicated the masturbatory orgasms can help reduce nasal congestion (Zarrintan, 2008) – sorry Kleenex and Puffs!


However, not all benefits of masturbation are linked to orgasm. In fact, just the experience of sexual arousal can be beneficial. Research suggests that stress/tension reduction can result from sexual arousal ALONE (regardless of orgasm; Murphy, 1987).

KEEP IN MIND – there can be too much of a good thing. In fact, is rare cases some people’s masturbation habits may create distress or result in interpersonal distress with a partner. That being said, for the vast majority, masturbation is associated with much more positives than negatives. So forget what your grandma told you, there is nothing wrong with masturbation if it is done so in a mature manner.

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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


The Benefits of Sex. Period.

It is common for women to report feeling “hornier” during menstruation (when on their period) than during other stages of their menstrual cycle. Researchers suggest that this may be a result of a reduced risk of pregnancy during menstruation (freeing many women to feel more sexual during this time) or due to increased pelvic congestion (likely producing feelings of heaviness that translates into experiences of arousal). Although many women experience a heightened libido during menstruation, anecdotally, many couples avoid having sexual intercourse during this time of the month. The menstrual blood, sanitary products, and menstrual cramping/bloating can potentially get in the way of the “mood.”

So, is it true that women have less sex during menstruation as compared to other times during the menstrual cycle? Well, in an in depth study conducted by researchers at Indiana University that followed a group of young women for several months, sex did decrease during menstruation (click here for more information). In fact, the women reported having sex on approximately 4% of days that they had their period compared to around 13% of days when they did not. Interestingly, not all sexual activity decreased during menstruation, with researchers reporting that women’s oral sex activity DID NOT fluctuate across the menstrual cycle (see, BLOW JOB WEEK IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT!).


Despite the fact that the frequency of oral sex remains unaffected by a woman’s period, not all couples enjoy oral sex nor do they find it as pleasurable as other sexual activities. Further, there are many benefits to having sexual intercourse during menstruation. In fact, many women report that their menstruation seems to end sooner after engaging in sexual intercourse than if they had not had sexual intercourse, likely because the muscle spasms from orgasm allow menstrual flow to exit more rapidly. Furthermore, research suggests that the hormones released during sex (such as oxytocin) help relieve the menstrual cramps, depression, and irritability often associated with menstruation.

So, with all the benefits of sexual intercourse during menstruation, how can we encourage more couples to “get it on” during that time of the month? Well, spreading a dark towel on the bed prior to having sex can help the “laundry freak” relax, latex condoms can make clean up much easier, and shower sex can be a fun and easy way to avoid the mess all together.

Women: Remember, there is no reason to feel embarrassed. Menstruation is a natural component to a woman’s life. So, be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your partner so that all parties involved understand each other’s desires and hang-ups.

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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


Setting the Record Straight – Four Sex Myths Debunked

I think we can all agree that sex is on our minds everyday (19 times per day for men and 10 times per day for women; Fisher, Moore, & Pittenger, 2012). However, truth be told, many of the ideas we have about sex that we accept as fact are actually miscommunications or myths.  As a sexuality researcher and instructor, I feel that it is my responsibility to set the record straight regarding many prominent sex myths.

Here are four sex myths debunked using scientific evidence:

First Myth: Men have higher sex drives than women

WRONG! Research suggests that there are NO gender differences in sexual desire. For example, Davies, Katz, &  Jackson (1999) found that men and women reported roughly similar levels of sexual desire. Moreover, several studies have indicated that differences in sexual desire are more related to overall relationship satisfaction than to gender.

Second Myth: Size matters

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Although we have all heard the phrase “bigger is better” more times than we can count, turns out the size of a man’s shlong is not related to his sexual prowess (Štulhofer, 2006). In fact, several studies have found that, when using self-report measures, women’s sexual satisfaction is not related to their partner’s penis size. In fact, if anything, some studies suggest that girth may be more related to sexual satisfaction than length.


Third Myth: Only men have wet dreams

INCORRECT! Nocturnal Emissions (i.e., wet dreams) are fairly common among both men and women. Although they are more common among men (particularly young men), many women (40%) report having experienced nocturnal emissions, or vaginal wetness (Kinsey, 1948; 1953).

Fourth Myth: Oral sex is safer than intercourse or anal sex

FALSE! Although you can’t get pregnant via oral sex, there is still an exchange of fluids, which are used as a means by which diseases travel. These diseases can enter your body through sores/cuts in your lips, mouth, and throat (Hyde, Delamater, & Byers, 2012). In fact, chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis and more can be transmitted via oral sex.

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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


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A Kiss Isn’t Just a Kiss

“The most eloquent silence; that of two mouths meeting in a kiss.” – Anonymous

Although kissing is often one of the first intimate behaviours performed in a relationship (commonly referred to as “first base”) and may seem to be a rather simplisitic behaviour, research suggests that kissing is of great importance when sizing up potential romantic partners and serves many functions. In fact, kissing appears to serve as an important gauge when selecting a mate and can either enhance or diminish feelings of attraction to others. In fact, in a study conducted by Hughes and colleagues (2007), 59% of men and 66% of women reported that “they were no longer interested in someone after kissing them for the first time.”

These results suggest that kissing plays a huge role in mate selection for both men and women, however this is particularly true for women. This gender difference in consistent with other research suggesting that women report finding kissing more important than men (Wlodarski & Dubar, 2013). Interestingly, this study also found that men and women who rate themselves as highly attractive and with more casual/short-term relationships, rated kissing as more important than those who rated themselves as less attractive and with less casual relationship experience.



So, now that we know kissing serves as an important meter stick when sizing up a potential mate, what can we do to be better kissers? What variables are important to others when kissing (especially for the first time)? In a study examining kissing preferences among young adults (Hughes et al., 2007),  (1) a person’s breath and (2) the taste of his or her mouth were important factors related to the quality of a kiss. The “wetness” of a kiss was also found to relate to the quality of a kiss, however differently for men and women. In particular, men reported liking “wetter” kisses to a greater extent than did women.

Although kissing cannot predict with 100% certainty how attractive someone finds you, it does play a role when sizing up partners. So, next time you are preparing for a first date, be sure to bring a few breath mints!

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Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Single’s Awareness Day: Are those in a relationships really happier on Valentine’s Day than single people?


As the old saying would have it: “Valentine’s Day is the day that makes lonely people depressed and loved people possessed.” However, is this really correct? Do we really need to talk single people off the edge on the “day of love?” Or, perhaps, is it the people in a relationship that we should be concerned with? For example, do you think it is possible, that people in relationships hold unrealistic expectations of this pink and red holiday and wind up just as emotionally disturbed as those who are single (perhaps even worse)?

It is during moments like this when turning to science may provide us with an answer. Last year, a fellow sex researcher, Kristen Mark (PhD), decided to conduct a survey on men’s and women’s attitudes toward Valentine’s Day (click here for her original article). After surveying over 2,000 people, Mark discovered that a large proportion of her participants chose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day each year. In fact, 52% of single participants, 50% of widowed participants, 40% of separated participants, and 33% of divorced participants reported no plans to celebrate on February 14th. Interestingly, these proportions decreased with respect to single participants, with 12% of seriously dating participants and 17% of married participants indicating no intentions of celebrating the holiday.

Despite the large number of people who appear to be indifferent toward Valentine’s Day and choose to forgo celebrations, there is some evidence suggesting that Valentine’s Day may result in some disastrous consequences, particularly among those who place high value on the holiday and those who report low relationship satisfaction. In particular, a study conducted at the University of Arizona concluded that, during the week before and after Valentine’s Day, relationships were over 2.5 times more likely to terminate as compared to other times of the year (Morse & Neuberg, 2004). Moreover, those who experienced a break-up surrounding Valentine’s Day were more likely to report problems in their relationship as compared to those who reported that their relationship was unaffected (click here for an awesome infographic).

So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, DO NOT grab your cell phone to place the suicide hotline on speed dial because you assume your single friends are in trouble. Remember that many people (both single and those in a relationship) are indifferent toward the holiday and have no intentions of celebrating it in the first place. Moreover, based on some empirical evidence, those in a relationship (especially those in a “less than ideal relationship”) may be more at risk for depression or a broken heart on Valentine’s Day than those who are unattached.

In closing, to those of who are in “rocky relationships” (and want to continue being with your partner), it may be in your best interest to make this the MOST AMAZING VALENTINE’S DAY EVER! On the other hand, for those of you who know people in “rocky relationships,” be prepared to re-gift your chocolates and/or flowers to help a friend in need during a potential break-up induced sob session/depression.


Morse, K. A., & Neuberg, S. L. (2004). How do holidays influence relationship processes and outcomes? Examining the instigating and catalytic effects of Valentine’s Day. Personal Relationships, 11, 509-527.
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


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iSex: The Use of Smartphones in the Bedroom


According to a study conducted in the summer of 2013 (surveying over 1,000 American adults), approximately 1 in 10 report having used their smartphones during sexual activity. In addition, it should come as no surprise, that a larger proportion (1:5) of young adults  (18-34 years of age) report using their smartphone during sex. Although the stats may sound a bit frightening, it should not come as a huge shock considering the importance placed on smartphones (particularly by young adults) in the past decade or so. Smartphones have now been integrated into nearly every aspect of person’s life, in fact, people often report feeling “naked” without their smartphones in hand. So, why would we expect the use of smartphones in the bedroom to be any different? Recently, it appears as though people have started taking notice of the popularity of cell phone use when in the sack, and are now creating apps to be used during sexual activity. In particular, a new app called Spreadsheets is designed to measure your sexual performance by monitoring your movements and your audio levels when “doing the deed.” According to the app’s website, it allows users to keep record of their average, peak, and aggregate performance. For example, it provides statistics on the average and longest duration of a single session, the number of days in a row, the highest decibel reached, the average and largest number of thrusts per minute, and more.

Although incredibly innovative, Spreadsheets is not the first erotic app created. In fact, there are apps such as “Sex Game” that allows users test their knowledge of everything erotic and “Vanity” that scans a user’s face to reveal just how attractive they are on a 1 to 10 scale.

 With the rate technology is advancing and the rapid uptake of the population, there is no question that there is more to come. However, the question is, what will it be?

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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Lucky Number Three: Young Adults and Threesomes

The topic of group sex is not uncommon among discussions involving university students, yet fairly little is known about young people’s experiences with and interest in group sex. Moreover, with some recent evidence suggesting that today’s youth are more sexually permissive than past generations, particularly with regard to casual sex, it is more important than ever to understand all aspects of young people’s sex lives, including experiences with and interest in group sex.

Consequently, a few students and I decided to develop a study designed to address the dearth of research related to people’s experiences with group sex. As a starting point, we examined heterosexual university students’ experiences with and interest in mixed-gender threesomes (MGTs; sexual activity involving three people where at least one member of each gender is present). In particular, we were interested in assessing young men’s and women’s self-reported interest in and experience with MGTs and  the influence of contextual features on their interest in MGT.

Our results suggest that about 12% of university students have experienced a MGT at some point in their lives, with more men reporting experience with MGTs as compared to women. Interestingly, men and women did not differ in their self-reported experience with MGTs involving two men, but they did differ in their experience with MGTs involving two women. It appears as though young men report MORE experience with sexual activity involving two women simultaneously than two men simultaneously, SURPRISE SURPRISE! Now, how can this be? Is it that a handful of women are running around having MGTs with tons of men? Or is it, perhaps, that men have a tendency to over-report their number of sexual partners, whereas women tend to under-report (my guess is the later)?

** Check out an interesting article on the accuracy of men’s and women’s self-reported sexual experience = **

Despite the relatively low number of young people indicating experience with MGTs, more than half  of participants were interested, to some extent, in engaging in a MGT. Again, a larger percentage of men reported interest in MGTs as compared to women. Moreover, participants’ level of interest varied based on several contextual features. In particular, MGTs involving a romantic partner were rated as more desirable than those in which the participant would be the third person. Further, MGTs involving a friend were more desirable than those involving a casual acquaintance or a stranger.

In sum, these data illustrate that interest in MGTs, but not experience, appears to be widespread among young adults. This suggests that young people do not consider MGTs to be an unconventional and/or stigmatized sexual behaviour. Moreover, interest in MGTs appears to be influenced by contextual features (i.e., presence of romantic partner and relationship with third person).


Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


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