Category Archives: Marriage and Sex Research

Want More Money? Have More Sex. (Really.)

money signs

Photo Credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

“…sexual activity is considered to be a barometer for health, quality of life, well-being and happiness.”

So researchers state in the opening paragraph of a new report on the correlation between sexual activity and wages. Yep, wages.

A British researcher analyzed a study that took place in Greece and included a random telephone survey of about 7,500 households. Respondents were asked about their wage level and sexual frequency (the options being none, once/twice a year, once a month, 2-3 times a month, weekly, 2-3 times a week, and more than 4 times a week). The study also asked for other demographic and personality factors to control or correlate such things as gender, educational level, and extroversion. Note that 58.3% of the surveyed individuals were married.

So the takeaway of the study is that those having sex more than four times a week earn more, by a statistically significant amount. That simply means that the results stood out.

Now this doesn’t mean that there is a cause-effect relationship, that more sex automatically equals more money. But in a seemingly unfair slap from the universe for those not in this category, the ones getting busy more often are also getting rich* more often.

But it’s not so unfair, when we consider why this might be:

Having sex four+ times a week likely means you’re in a relationship. I strongly advocate that relationship be a marriage (since God strongly advocated it first). Other studies have shown great health, well-being, and financial benefits to being a marriage that provides companionship, shared responsibility for finances and child-rearing, and yes, sex.

Those who have regular sex tend to be happier. A healthy sex life is related to higher self-esteem, lower levels of depression, and general happiness. This could be a product of biological chemicals and physiological responses, but I think it’s also a sense of relational well-being and intimate connection to someone you love that contributes to being happier.

Healthy individuals are more likely to have sex and to have higher-wage jobs. There is likely a casual effect of poor health on both earning levels and frequency of sex. If you’re struggling with health issues, you may have difficulty both in having sex and in fulfilling the tasks of a job. The upshot is that, inasmuch as you can effect it, stay healthy. Eat well, exercise, throw off any addictions, etc. You know the drill.

Sex can be empowering. So this is my own theory, one I mentioned here before. Having read about and heard from men on this issue, I believe that having sex with your mate can boost your personal confidence in such a way that you feel like you can take on the world. I doubt it’s just men, too. There’s something about quality lovemaking with your spouse that just tethers you to their love throughout the day and makes some of the daily annoyances roll off your back a bit better. Why this is true, I’m not sure. However, like everything else about God-honoring marital sexuality, I suspect it’s a gift from God Himself.

Knowing what you’re coming home to makes you work harder. Another theory mine, based on conversations with and observation of married couples. You might think that an unhappy spouse would avoid home by staying at the office and working longer hours, and thus earn more. While I have seen that pattern, workaholism isn’t the same as productivity. The person secure in their marriage — through companionship, shared values and purpose, and lovemaking — is more likely to work with fervor, push through tasks more efficiently and effectively, and let stress go when they leave the workplace. They want to be productive and earn their keep to continue providing for the life they enjoy, and the lover they enjoy it with.

Those are the reasons I see for the sex-and-wages correlation.

So what else is there to conclude but that if you want more money, have more sex?

At least it’s worth a try.

*Just to clarify, no, I don’t thinking getting rich is a worthy goal for Christians. But properly providing for your family is (1 Tim 5:8), and some Christians have indeed grown rich and used their money generously for God’s work.

Waiting for Sexual Intimacy

Photo Credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Photo Credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

I read a very interesting article last week from The Art of Manliness. Being thoroughly female, I still enjoy many of the posts from this male-directed blog. Last Monday, the article How Delaying Intimacy Can Benefit Your Relationship looked at studies on why it’s not such a good idea to jump into bed willy-nilly and why one should wait until the relationship deepens.

Now this wasn’t a Christian-based article, and I strongly advocate waiting until the real commitment of marriage vows. However, the studies cited support the church’s position that couples should wait. Here are two interesting findings.

Old Habits Die Hard

Repeated behaviors “train our minds to think and act in certain ways” — even to the point of rewriting our brain circuitry. The way you act over and over becomes a pattern that is very difficult to change. So the notion that you’ll settle down later, when you get married, and keep to one lover, and focus on deeper intimacy, etc., that’s not so easy to do. As researcher Dr. Busby says, “Every relationship we have, however brief and insignificant, influences every other relationship we have, and the patterns that we repeat across relationships become very difficult to change.”

If you pursue casual sex before marriage, it’s hard to make that shift to deeper intimacy in marriage. That’s not the message we usually get from sources around us. The romantic version often espoused in our culture is that something just shifts inside you when you meet “the right one.” But old habits die hard. It may not be personal — you may love and adore your mate — but you can have a hard time shutting off the way you’ve trained your mind to think about sex and introducing a different perspective.

The best option is to start right here, right now, establishing the habits you want to carry into the rest of your life and your marriage.

Oxytocin: It’s Not Just for Sex Anymore

I, and many others who write about sex, have mentioned the importance of Oxytocin in lovemaking. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone that reduces stress and fosters trust. It’s best known as a substance mothers release when they nurse their babies.

However, it is also released in men when they climax. For this reason, many believe that Oxytocin is key to the argument that sex is a bonding activity. But that’s not the whole story.

Oxytocin comes around during sex, but it also appears in non-sexual but affectionate activities, like hugging, touching, smiling, listening. Moreover, right after sexual climax, Oxytocin apparently takes a nosedive. So if the sex-made Oxytocin is all you’re working from, those bonding feelings will go pffft as soon as you’re done. Essentially, you need ongoing non-sexual Oxytocin-producing behaviors to really feel connected to your lover and then experience sex as an outgrowth of that bond. That’s what should happen in a marriage — ongoing interaction and bonding that makes the sex all the more meaningful.

From Martin Robertson, researcher: “Frequent, comforting feelings are important in maintaining strong bonds . . . . The more dependable the flow of Oxytocin via daily bonding behaviors, the easier it is to sustain a relationship. In contrast, a passionate one-night stand allows lovers’ innate defensiveness to snap back into place pretty much as soon as Oxytocin drops after climax.”

While else should you wait? I wrote posts for Preengaged some time ago explaining other reasons why couples should wait until marriage: Sex Before Marriage Part 1 and Sex Before Marriage Part 2.

Fun Findings about Sex

Before starting this blog and quite a bit since I began, I have read a lot of findings about sexuality. Some are intuitive, some are surprising, and some are, well, odd. I decided to share a few of my favorite findings about sexuality with you today.

Are your feet too cold for climax? A study by the University of Groningen in The Netherlands looked at brain scans during orgasm to see which parts light up and which turn off. In addition to findings on their original purpose, they also reported an interesting result: Both men and women had an easier time reaching orgasm with their socks on, with a 30% increase in climax among those couples who kept their feet cozy.

Psalm 139:14 quote

How cool is the penis? I recently watched a TED talk from research scientist Diane Kelly, who studies “the evolution of copulatory systems and sexual differentiation in the nervous system.” Don’t worry; I’m not sure what that means either.

Except that she has specifically studied mammalian penises and discovered that they are constructed in a unique way. The penis is stretchy like a worm but can also get hard. The general explanation is that blood flows into the penis, causing it to expand and stiffen. But blood flow alone doesn’t cause that stiffness, just like a worm can expand but not stiffen. Kelly studied cross-sections of the mammalian penis (go ahead and cringe, guys) and discovered that the fibers in the penile wall were arranged in a way that scientists had never seen in any other “skeletal” structure. In fact, “If the wall around the erectile tissue wasn’t reinforced in this way, the shape would change, but the inflated penis would not resist bending and erection simply wouldn’t work.”

The upshot: The penis is uniquely designed by God not only to expand in size, but to maintain the rigidity necessary for intercourse . . . and no other skeletal system is designed in this way.

Does size matter? While flaccid (aka “limp”) penis size varies greatly, erect penises stay pretty much in the range of 4 to 7 inches (10-17 cm). A study by Psychology of Men and Masculinity reported that 68% of men are between 4.6 and 6 inches, and a mere 0.4% are above 6.9 inches (17 1/2 cm) when erect.

How much of that can a wife feel? Aroused women have about 4.25 to 4.75 inches (10 1/2-12 cm) of vaginal length, and the most important area for sexual response is the outer one-third . . . so you guys are just fine.

Pie chart

Penis size among men, by inches.

Want proof that women were meant to enjoy sex? Let me introduce you to the female’s clitoris. The clitoris is a wishbone shaped organ with a knobby bit of flesh above the vagina (the clitoral head) that is particularly sensitive to touch.

The only known purpose of the clitoris is to provide pleasure. It does not assist in reproduction, urination, or menstruation. In fact, the clitoris is the only sex organ devoted solely to hmm-that-feels-so-good. God did not include the clitoris as an afterthought; clearly, He wants us wives to enjoy the gift of sexuality in marriage.

Can’t get rid of your hiccups? Try sex. A 1999 case report by Drs. R. and A. Peleg related the incident of a 40-year-old male who was struck with intractable hiccups. After four days of trying everything to get rid of them, he had sex with his wife. The case study stated, “The hiccups continued throughout the sexual interlude up until the moment of ejaculation when they suddenly and completely ceased. . . .” So the next time that glass of water or standing on your head doesn’t work, suggest a “sexual interlude” with your spouse.

Feeling down? Maybe you need a natural antidepressant. And that antidepressant would be . . . semen. Yep. A study by two evolutionary psychologists at the State of University of New York found that women regularly exposed to semen had better mood and fewer depressive symptoms. Apparently, the seminal fluid has mood-elevating compounds (endorphins, estrone, prolactin, oxytocin, thyrotrpin-releasing hormone, and serotonin) and the vagina is very absorbent.

Any research findings you’ve heard that demonstrate how interesting God made sexuality and our bodies? Which of the above findings surprises you?

Sources: Everyday Health – Does Penis Size Really Matter?; Elite Daily; Times Union; Psychology Today; TED Talks: What We Didn’t Know about Penis Anatomy by Diane Kelly; Discovery Health – Clitoris; Sexual Intercourse as a Potential Treatment for Intractable Hiccups; 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Orgasm; and a whole bunch of other articles and books I’ve read that I can’t remember to list here.

Female Ejaculation: Is It Real?

Female illustration

Female what?!
Photo from Microsoft Word Clip Art

If I say the word “ejaculation” in reference to sex, the vast majority of you will think that it applies to the husband. However, many women have reported experiencing something like ejaculation themselves, where a “shot” of fluid comes out that is distinctly different from the vaginal lubrication that facilitates intercourse.

Is it real? Is there truly female ejaculation?

In books about sexuality that I’ve read in past decades, most doctors presumed that the ejaculate females had was actually a leaking of urine. Even when I read that sometime ago, I thought, “How stupid do these male doctors think we are? Surely we gals know the difference between vaginal flow and pee, right?” But then I began to doubt myself and take their word for it instead.

It take it back. I was right in the first place!

More research indicates that some women do indeed “ejaculate.” That is, they experience a flow of fluid that can be anywhere from a teaspoon to a half-cupful. In fact, some women report that their bodies squirt fluid out more forcefully and generously than that. It appears that the burst of lubricant occurs when that elusive G-spot is tangled with.

Now I’m not a huge fan of sitting around trying to find your G-spot. I’ve known too many women and couples obsessed with finding this place like it’s the Buried Treasure of Orgasms. You can become frustrated and unsatisfied with your current, rather wonderful sex life if you go on a hunt for something you may or may not find right away. However, I do believe that the G-spot exists, that stimulating it can feel quite good, and that most couples can eventually find it by trying different positions. Some wives love their husband thrusting straight into that spot, and other wives find it too jolting. It’s up to the couple to decide.

Does ejaculate come out each time the G-spot is stimulated to climax? No. The information we have thus far is that female ejaculation is by no means a given. Some women are unlikely to ejaculate, others may gush quite often, and a large majority in between may experience this phenomenon a handful of times.

“Shejaculating” is not necessarily linked to climax anyway. Wives can orgasm many times and never spurt, and some wives may ejaculate at other times. Pleasurable stimulation to the area around the G-spot seems to be the key.

Some researchers have suggested that the fluid comes from the Skene’s glands, which rest on the anterior wall of the vagina. (Scientific diagram of female anatomy below to show where Skene’s glands are.) These glands are surrounded by tissue, including the portion of the clitoris that reaches up inside the vagina and swells with blood during sexual arousal. This is a reasonable suggestion given the glands’ proximity to the G-spot and connection with sexual stimulation. In addition, the size of the glands vary from woman to woman, which could explain why some women are more likely to ejaculate than others. However, this theory has not been proved. We don’t know exactly where the fluid comes from.

Illustration of glands

What has been tested is the substance itself. Female ejaculate seems to have properties similar to male semen (minus the sperm, of course). PSA, an antigen manufactured in the prostate, and glucose, a form of sugar in the body, have shown up in the liquid. Those properties demonstrate that it is not urine.

Summary: What we seem to know now is that female ejaculation exists, that it is linked to the stimulation of the front wall of the vagina, and that it is unpredictable at best.

As you might imagine, this issue hasn’t been studied much because (1) research tends to go toward assisting sexual dysfunction rather than figuring out how to use your vagina like a hose; and (2) how do you research this? Would you participate in such a study?!! No, thanks.

Instead, most of what we know has come from self-report. If a wife says she ejaculates, I believe her. And she might want to keep a towel nearby.

To the hubbies out there, whether your wife “shejaculates” is not a reflection of your sexual prowess, the level of her pleasure, or her ability to orgasm. I suspect it’s a function of how big her Skene’s glands are.

Just keep plugging away (pun intended) and enjoy your marital intimacy. If a burst of liquid appears, so be it. Sex is pretty messy anyway, so what’s a little more fluid added to the event?

Sources: Love & Sex with Dr. Laura Berman; Net Doctor UK; Princeton University; News Scientist

Penis Size: From the Wife’s Point of View

Q&AToday’s reader question may be our shortest one yet. Here it is from our most popular commenter, that ever-present Anonymous.

Can you do a post on penis size?

I don’t know exactly what the reader expected me to say on the subject. However, a common question is whether penis size matters and, if so, how.

Ruler

Let’s start out with a little anatomy. The average length of a penis has recently been reported at 5.88 inches. That’s slightly smaller than a U.S. dollar bill. Previous estimates of 6.5 inches were skewed by discrepancies in self-measurement and liars who claimed to be up to 10+ inches. That 5.88 inches is an erect penis, by the way.

A flaccid (limp) penis has an average length of 3-4 inches (10.5 cm).

Interestingly enough, there are also variations in how much a penis “grows” when aroused. It isn’t a fixed amount, like double. A smaller flaccid penis could become larger when erect than a larger flaccid penis.

Which matters? From what I can tell, that flaccid penis only matters in the junior high locker room when you’re first aware of others. In adulthood, men care about their erect penis size because that contributes to greater confidence about their body and their ability to satisfy their mate. (Correct me if I’m wrong, guys.)

So does a husband’s penis size affect the pleasure his wife receives in intercourse?

Almost every penis is big enough. The female vagina also expands when sexually aroused. The most commonly used measurements come from research done in the 1960s (by Masters & Johnson), indicating that vaginal length when sexually stimulated ranges from 4.25 to 4.75 inches. Obviously, the average 5.88-inch penis is more than able to create contact and friction throughout the whole vagina.

But these are averages, right? So what about the shorter penis and the longer vagina? Does size matter then?

Here’s how the averages stack up for penis size.

Pie chart

This means that 68% of men are in the range of 4.6 to 6.0 inches. 16% are smaller and 16% are larger. But only 0.4 are less than 4 inches long. Almost every husband on the planet has more than enough to fill his wife’s vagina.

But even if he doesn’t, the most sensitive area of the vagina is that closest to the opening. That’s where the real action is. Paul Byerly of The Marriage Bed explained this well: “Some men worry about the size of their penis. Since only the first 2 to 3 inches of the vagina has nerve endings, length has little to do with pleasing a wife during intercourse.” So husbands can relax knowing that they are quite able to sexually stimulate their wives regardless of penis size.

But are bigger penises better? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In a recent study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers reported that when it came to achieving vaginal orgasm, “33.8 percent preferred longer-than-average penises, 60 percent said size made no difference and 6.3 percent said longer was less pleasurable than shorter.” Recognize that the study was self-reporting from 160 university students (not a representative sample of wives). Still, note that 2/3 didn’t think bigger was better. The issue for the women I’ve talked to is simply “big enough,” and almost every guy is.

The one possible advantage of a longer penis may be having contact with that “G-spot,” an area on the anterior wall of the vagina which some claim to be especially erogenous. If you’ve identified your G-spot, and your husband’s penis is able to reach and thrust against it, that may feel extra nice. But some women report that kind of intensity is too much. Honestly, though, even those who have located the spot, can achieve penile contact with it, and enjoy that sensation, are not not likely to make that happen every time they have sex. Perhaps it’s a perk, but there are numerous ways to achieve orgasm.

One issue with a bigger penis that isn’t talked about as much is that sometimes a huge penis hurts. A friend once told me that sex hurt because her husband was “hung like a horse.” (Yes, it took a little while before I could make eye contact with her husband because the stupid word “horse” kept galloping through my head.) But I understood her point. Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage addressed this subject well in Penis Size and Painful Sex: What’s a Wife to Do? Husbands with XL penises may need to be more careful with their wives, taking into account how able she is to take in his full amount.

What about thickness? Usually, when penis size is discussed, people are talking about length. However, I’ve found more women concerned about the thickness of a penis. Specifically, when a penis is much thicker than usual, the wife may need greater lubrication and gentleness of entry so that her vagina can flex enough to take him in. I’m not sitting around having penis conversations all the time, but I have yet to find a woman who complained about a too-narrow penis. Given the size of the vaginal opening and elasticity, a woman can feel and be stimulated by a penis of just about any thickness. We adapt to the size of our husband’s organ.

What’s the “right-sized” penis? My answer: The size your husband is. If he’s the right guy for you, his penis is the right one for you too. You may need to figure out how to make it all work, though. If he is particularly big, you may need additional lubrication and for him to go slow and easy while you stretch to receive him. Over time, a wife’s body will likely adjust to that size. If hubby’s small and you can’t feel it quite as much, perhaps a different sexual position could help provide greater sensation, or more stimulation can be applied with his fingers on the clitoris as well to get the wife to orgasm.

If you want your vagina and hubby’s penis to come together in perfect harmony, practice. Try different things and see what feels good.

What should you say about your husband’s penis size? OMG. No, seriously, I found out a few months ago that there is a condition called Oversized Male Genitalia. Its acronym is OMG — just what you might say if you saw one. (If you’re not rolling on the floor laughing by now, you aren’t reacting like I did when I read about this oddly-named condition.)

Your husband probably doesn’t actually have OMG (unless he’s 8 inches or more flaccid). But you do want to make him feel confident about his body and his ability to satisfy you. A little “wow” now and then when he pulls it out isn’t too much to ask, is it? Don’t lie, but do let your husband know that he is big enough. If you can’t feel it enough, don’t insult his penis; it’s doing the best it can. Ask him to try something different so you can feel even more of him.

However, I have personally never known a woman who said her guy was too small for her to feel sufficient pleasure.

Does penis size matter? Yes, a little. But I’m a firm believer that it’s how he uses that penis that matters a whole lot more. It doesn’t matter if my husband is a Tall, Grande, or Venti, as long as he’s my favorite flavor.

“My beloved is radiant and ruddy,

outstanding among ten thousand.”

Song of Songs 5:10

Sources: Net Doctor; Live Science; Web MD; Oxford English Dictionary; Bible Gateway; Intimacy in Marriage; The Marriage Bed