Tag Archives: sex research

4 Research-Based Tips for Better Sex

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been clearing out emails (ever so slowly), including ones I’d received from Google alerts on sex research. I shared a few findings recently with What Research Says You Need for Better Sex), and I’m sharing more today!

Here are four more tips for improving your married sex life.

Clean the House

Last time, I addressed making your bed. But a survey of 1,000 people looked at how the state of their whole home affects their sex life. Apparently, “choreplay” is a real thing. According to researchers: “Over 50 percent of people said they’re more likely to have sex with their partner after they’ve completed household chores, and just over 60 percent said a clean, organized bedroom makes them more likely to have sex.”

How does that work? A good while ago, I wrote a post titled Is Vacuuming Foreplay?, in which I said my husband performing household chores turned me on. I’ve gotten pushback on that idea at times, but the point is not that his cleaning is itself arousing or that I’m “rewarding” my husband with sex like a bartering program.

Rather, hubby cleaning up clears that task to-do off my list, thus reducing my stress levels and making me more likely to get in the mood. Plus, both of us taking care of the house reminds me we’re a team in life — and make a good team in the bedroom too. That perspective is what I’ve heard from many other wives as well. And a few husbands.

Perhaps you should clean up and see how things go.

Source: MBG Relationships – The Surprising Thing That Gets Couples Turned On At Home

Talk (or Make Noise) During Sex

It’s crucial that you and your spouse be able to discuss your sex life away from the bedroom so that you can voice your desires, navigate obstacles, and troubleshoot problems together. However, a study of 398 people also linked sexual satisfaction to verbal and non-verbal communication during sexual activity. Which all boils down to: speak up or make some noise!

One caveat: The study also showed that your partner’s response to your communication style — non-verbal, verbal, moaning like a hyena in heat, whatever — impacts sexual satisfaction. “Given that individuals may be especially vulnerable when engaging in partnered sexual activity, the consequences of a negative partner reaction may have more impact than a negative reaction in a less vulnerable situation.”

We need acceptance and encouragement to express ourselves fully. So make sure you also reassure your spouse and let them demonstrate their pleasure vocally in their own way.

Sources: Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy: Show or Tell? Does Verbal and/or Nonverbal Sexual Communication Matter for Sexual Satisfaction?; MBG Relationships – Why Couples Should Talk More During Sex, According To Science; Explore Health – The One Thing That Leads to More Satisfying Sex, According to Science

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Eat Chocolate

Ooh, aren’t you glad this one made the list?! Though specifically, it’s dark chocolate, not milk chocolate bars.

Dark chocolate has been shown to promote the release of phenylethylamine and serotonin, two body chemicals that improve mood. In addition, chocolate with 70% or more cacao may lower stress levels and inflammation—thus raising sexual interest and performance.

So why not invest in your sex life with a few nibbles of dark chocolate? Even better, feed each other as part of your sexual encounter! Dark-chocolate-dipped strawberries, anyone?

Sources: Medical Daily – Chocolates For Enhanced Libido: Why And How It Works; Express UK – Low libido: Eating this one thing can help increase your sex drive – what is it?

Run, Cycle, or Swim

Exercise leads to better sex? No shocker there. But a good reminder nonetheless.

Researchers surveyed 3,906 men and 2,264 women who were cyclists, swimmers, runners, and/or multisport athletes about their exercise habits and sexual function. Men who exercised more had less erectile dysfunction, while women who exercised more reported increases in arousal and orgasm.

How much is enough? Well, the biggest gains came with more than I plan to do — 10 hours a week of cycling. But improvements were significant in lesser amounts, particularly at the point of 6-7 hours of moderate cycling per week for men and 5.5 hours per week for women. The likely reason is simple: Exercise yields healthier arteries and better circulation, and that makes for your parts working as they should.

You don’t have to cycle, of course. The study also looked at swimming and running. Though if you see me running, you should run too — because we’re being chased by something we don’t want to catch us. I’d prefer to dust off our bikes and get back to riding together again.

Sources: Bicycling – How You Can Ride Your Way to Better Sex; The Journal of Sexual Medicine – Exercise Improves Self-Reported Sexual Function Among Physically Active Adults

A Quick Word on Research

If you see a sex study reported on a blog, website, or news source, don’t just go by the headline. Believe me, sex studies are not all equal. It’s important to look into who they studied, how the study was conducted, and what cautions are given as part of the results.

Who sponsored the study can also be important information, as commercial entities will sometimes finance research that benefits their bottom line. That doesn’t mean all results from such studies are wrong, but they should be more carefully scrutinized.

All to say: Be cautious. “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:26).

Wrapping It Up

Here are the four tips in a nutshell:

  • Clean the house
  • Talk (or make noise) during sex
  • Eat dark chocolate
  • Run, cycle, or swim

Pick as many as you’d like and see how it goes!

And gentlemen, don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming webinar. Hosted by four female marriage and sex bloggers, you’ll get the inside scoop on Understanding Her Sex Drive for only $5! If you can’t make that time, no worries — replay is available.

What Research Says You Need for Better Sex

Long ago, I installed Google alerts, a service that culls content for the user according to given parameters. In my case, I asked for phrases like “sex research” and “higher drive wife.” And for nearly two years, I’ve gotten daily emails with links to relevant articles—as well as a lot of irrelevant articles because false positives happen a lot.

As I’ve been going through them, I decided to summarize some of the more interesting ones; particularly those that don’t warrant a full blog post. So here we go!

Embrace New Experiences

This isn’t about new sexual experiences, though you can have those too. Rather, a study of long-term couples published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that when each partner had an opportunity to have novel experiences or develop new skills/perspectives, they had more sex and reported greater satisfaction with sexual intimacy.

The researchers called these “self-expanding activities” and noted the benefits continue. “The benefits of self-expansion for relationship satisfaction are sustained over time, and…effects cannot be attributed solely to increases in positive affect, time spent interacting with the partner or closeness during the activity.”

So go out on the town. Take that trip. Enroll in a class. Explore local nature. Do a Bible study together. Read my Pillow Talk book. Find something where you can learn together and embrace new experiences!

Sources: APA PsychNET – Broadening your horizons: Self-expanding activities promote desire and satisfaction in established romantic relationships; MBG Relationships – Couples Who Do THIS Together Have A Better Sex Life, Study Shows

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Be a Conscientious Lover

Ruhr University researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 couples about their personalities and their sex lives. For personality, they used the Big Five Framework that measures extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. One trait in particular was correlated to fewer sexual problems and higher sexual satisfaction: Conscientiousness.

The correlation was even higher for women whose male partners were conscientious. “Men who are thorough and dutiful may feel the need to satisfy their partner sexually, which may in turn lead to better sexual function of their partners.” Gotta love that word thorough!

Conscientiousness people are described as organized, reliable, and ambitious. They tend to be intentional and to plan, as in scheduling sex. They take time to get it right. How are you faring on conscientiousness? Need to up your game?

Sources: Inverse – “Big 5” Personality Trait Predicts How Good Sex Is for Couples in New Study; Quartzy – Turns out the best sex actually doesn’t come from hot-blooded passion

Use Cannabis…No, Don’t!

Hey, I want to be honest about the research out there, and if I’ve seen one article, I’ve seen 12 saying mild cannabis use is linked to higher sexual frequency. But notice first the word mild and then ask why this result occurred. Hmm, let’s see… What a shocker that studies showed a substance that relaxes you relates to more willingness to have sex! (And every frat party attendee ever says, “No duh.”)

I included this point because because I want to accurately represent current research, while also showing how we must ask good questions about the results. If cannabis usage is related to more sex, you still have to ask: Should I do cannabis? My recommendation is no, because we have other ways to get that relaxing effect that don’t have some of the drawbacks of cannabis. For example, cannabis may well lower sperm count and affect embryos fertilized from that sperm.

As Christians we need to ask about what we put in our bodies and whether it’s good for us. I plan to stay away from the cannabis. Although I enjoy a glass of wine sometimes—something I figure Jesus would be okay with, given that wedding miracle He performed.

Sources: My SA: Is Marijuana Good for Sex, Bad for Sperm? (I read plenty of others but didn’t keep their links.)

Note: CBD oil is not the same. These cannabis studies are essentially about marijuana.

Believe in Your Body

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of a positive body image, both for women and for men. We should embrace our inherent beauty for our own’s sake and to honor the Creator who crafted it. But research also shows it’s good for your sex life.

In a review of research literature, a study’s authors concluded that “women who are more satisfied with their appearance tend to initiate sex more often and report more orgasms during sex, while both men and women with a better body image tend to be more comfortable discussing sexual topics with a partner.” We also know that communication with your partner about physical intimacy increases sexual satisfaction. So for both genders, body image matters.

I know, I know—easier said than done. But if you’re not feeling great about your body today, take a step in the right direction. Find one thing about your body you’re grateful for—appearance, function, or health-wise. Write it down and read it several times over the next week. Then choose a relevant memory verse to meditate over. I’m a fan of Psalm 149:14: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Next week, do the same thing but with a different trait. And on and on. Begin to believe in the body you have and share with your spouse.

Sources: PsyPost: Positive body image linked to better — and safer — sex; Science Direct: A review of research linking body image and sexual well-being

Make Your Bed

In a study commissioned by a mattress company of 2,000 couples, researchers found those who made their bed had more sex per week (3 times/week) than those who didn’t (2 times/week). And even if you’re not a bed-maker yourself, if your spouse is, it’s a good idea to go with flow on this one. Why? Because 42% of bed-makers consider it a turn-off for their partner to leave the sheets untucked.

Mind you, the bed-makers were also found to be high-maintenance, but if you already married that person, too late. You’re in for a penny, in for a pound. Make that bed and maybe you can add another sexual encounter to your week!

Sources: Toronto Sun – Making your bed can boost your sex life: Study; Happy National Make Your Bed Day! See Our Survey Results

Summing It Up

There you go! Four things to improve your sexual intimacy:

  • Embrace New Experiences
  • Be a Conscientious Lover
  • Believe in Your Body
  • Make Your Bed

Do all of them or pick one to work on, and see how your sex life improves!

What Makes Sex Intimate? Try Affection.

I had an interesting conversation with my husband recently about casual versus committed sex. Why is committed sex so much better? Casual sex can actually feel quite physically pleasurable, but it lacks the intense satisfaction that marital sexual intimacy provides.

One reason research has revealed is that men get a wash of feel-good chemicals during sex that isn’t nearly as strong in casual relationships as it is in committed sex. Another study showed that men responded positively to the faces of their partners, over images of other women, due to the presence of oxytocin, a body chemical released in especially high doses during lovemaking. And of course, hubby and I discussed the deeper emotional and spiritual meaning of sexual intimacy in marriage.

However, I recently came across another interesting aspect that didn’t surprise me, though I was happy to see it show up so clearly in the research: One primary reason that sex feels so good is the affection we receive from our partner. It’s not just the arousal sensations but the closeness and physical touch we get when we make love.

Couple lying in bed and holding hands with blog post title

This particular study used three different methods to look at what the link between sexual pleasure and affection might be. First, they conducted a survey that showed “a strong correlation between sex and positive emotions, but only when affection was factored into the equation. When affection was removed, the link almost disappeared.” You hear that? If it’s just about the sex, without genuine affection, you don’t get the positive-emotion payoff.

The researchers also had 200 participants, mostly marrieds, keep a journal tracking their sexual frequency and “erotic feelings,” as well as times they had non-sexual intimacy and affection with their mates. The result? “Sex correlated with positive emotions almost exclusively when it also led to affection (more than 90% of the time across all of the couples’ journals).”

Finally, the study asked 60 couples to track their sexual and non-sexual affection in real time on their smartphones. Participants reported affection after sex, but also hours later — demonstrating that affection was a positive consequence of lovemaking.

So are we having sex in part to get affection? It seems that’s a factor. Is sex more meaningful when paired with affection? Absolutely.

Of course, I believe all of this is God’s design for sex. Marriage provides the perfect context for daily affection as well as frequent lovemaking. From this research, it appears that the affection might be more important than the sex in giving you the positive emotions of intimacy with your spouse. However, when both are present in your relationship, they feed each other. Sex increases affection, and affection leads to sex.

Sex increases affection, and affection leads to sex. Click To Tweet

That is God’s beautiful design.

How should you use this information in your marriage?

Well, some of us are more naturally drawn to affection, and some are more drawn to sex. And oftentimes, people from different categories marry each other. And then there are those who have simply shut down both affection and sex in their marriage. Be honest with yourself: Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “I’m not having sex with him unless and until he spends a lot more time on romance and affection with me.”
  • “I’m tired of him wanting to be cuddle but not wanting to have sex. If he wants to touch me, why can’t he arouse me too?”
  • “I try to turn her on, but she takes too long to orgasm. So I just go after my own climax.”
  • “It’s been months since we made love, and we rarely touch anymore.”

Those are just a few examples, and I’m sure you could come up with others, but they illustrate what I’ve heard from various marriages. Some spouses are aching for more affection, and some spouses are aching for more sex. And some marriages are desperately in need of both.

But I’m not sure it matters as much which comes first: sex or affection. Or maybe it does matter, in that you should figure out what your spouse desires and try to meet that. Great marriages arise from spouses who make an effort to satisfy their mate’s deepest longings.

Great marriages arise from spouses who make an effort to satisfy their mate's deepest longings. Click To Tweet

Of course, it’s best if both of you are putting forth that effort. However, one spouse can ignite change in a marriage. So rather than thinking about what you’re not getting, maybe you should consider what your spouse longs for.

Because if it’s affection, providing that might lead to more sex. And if it’s sex, that might lead to more affection. And all of that will produce more positive emotions about each other and your relationship — that is, a greater sense of intimacy.

Regardless, most of us marrieds could spend more time on affection during sex. That is, we could slow things down and spend more time touching.

So ask yourself: Where do I need to invest? Affection, sex, or both? Then go do that. My prayer is that positive emotions and intimacy will follow.

Sources: Forbes.com – The Reasons Why Sex Makes Us Happy May Not Be What You ThinkPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin – More Than Just Sex: Affection Mediates the Association Between Sexual Activity and Well-Being; WebMD – How the ‘Love Hormone’ Works Its Magic

A Great Sex Life Requires Effort

I’ve been reading up lately on sex research, so you’ll probably see more of that on my blog. I’m in favor of well-conducted research about sexuality, because good science will confirm God’s design. He’s the one who created this universe, so if something’s true it should show up in the facts, even though faith is an important component of putting it all into practice.

One caveat: Not all scientific research is well-done. Sometimes researchers go in with a set of expectations and use a confirmation bias with the results. That said, we can learn a lot from well-performed studies. And today, I want to highlight one that goes right along with biblical principles.

Blog post title + couple helping each other up a mountain

As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers at the University of Toronto set up a study to uncover the secret to a happy sex life in long-term relationships. Of course we all want that secret, right?

They wanted to see if it made a difference whether couples viewed satisfaction as the result of “sexual destiny” or “sexual growth.” One researcher defined these terms as follows:

“People who believe in sexual destiny are using their sex life as a barometer for how well their relationship is doing, and they believe problems in the bedroom equal problems in the relationship as a whole.”

“Whereas people who believe in sexual growth not only believe they can work on their sexual problems, but they are not letting it affect their relationship satisfaction.”

I bet you can already guess which one I think is going to win this tortoise-hare race. And you probably won’t be surprised by the results either.

Basically, the sexual satisfaction for both sexual destiny and sexual growth couples is high in the first two to three years, with no real difference. It’s that honeymoon phase we all talk about, when you can’t imagine wanting to do anything more than hang out in your beloved’s arms and stare into his soulful eyes.

And then you day, you wake up and realize that your spouse is a truly flawed and rather irritating human being. And you just signed up to have this person as your roommate for life.

Okay, I exaggerate. But the shine does tend to wear off a bit for most. It’s just what happens as our lives get complicated. Seasons bring new challenges, our bodies change, our expectations alter, old baggage comes for visit and wants to stay, busyness takes hold, and much more.

So now what? Is your sex life likely to taper off, or even take a nose dive?

Apparently, it depends.

Based on the 1900 participants in the study, researchers concluded that those who had a sexual destiny perspective showed less satisfaction and ability to work through problems in their relationship. Those who expected sexual intimacy to require ongoing growth fared much better.

This all makes sense because if you think something will be easy and then it’s not, you’re far more likely to think it wasn’t meant to be. Whereas believing that something will require effort means that you aren’t caught by surprise when challenges arise; rather, you were primed to expect them and be willing to work through them.

Sexual destiny believers sound like those who promote the idea of sexual compatibility. Many claim you need to sleep with someone before deciding to get married because it would be terrible if you discovered post-nuptials that you’re sexually incompatible. But we’re not static people all through life, not even in the bedroom. Rather, what singles should do is (1) adopt a sexual growth philosophy, and (2) marry someone else with a sexual growth philosophy. Then you’re both willing to put forth whatever effort you need to have satisfying sexual intimacy for the long haul.

And if you’re already married? It’s not too late! These researchers influenced participants’ beliefs by sharing information that either supported the sexual destiny or sexual growth perspective and then studied the results. Since we now know that sexual growth is the way to go, you can adopt self-talk that promotes that view.

You now know that if sex isn’t easy or satisfying or exciting right now, it doesn’t have to be that way a year from now, a month from now, or maybe even tomorrow. It certainly doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. You and your spouse can grow!

Take to heart just this sampling of messages from the Bible about the rewards of exerting effort in the right direction:

“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward” (Proverbs 12:14).

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

If things aren’t peachy keen at the moment, don’t give up! Don’t accept the status quo. And don’t doubt the love you have for each other. Rather, convince yourself and communicate with your spouse about the effort you need to exert to achieve a happy sex life, one that satisfies both of you and honors your Heavenly Father.

Choose sexual growth.

Source: Science Daily — Study reveals secret to a happy sex life

Want to Work All Your Muscles? Try Sex.

I was listening to Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, the NPR news quiz game show, and they mentioned an odd study about sex. Of course, I had to go look it up.

Title with drawn couple exercising

So here’s what happened: Upbeat Active (a fitness company) commissioned research tracking how many muscles are used for various activities. They learned that texting uses 38 muscles, dancing uses 99 muscles, and cycling to work uses 155 muscles. But the only activity that uses all your muscles, all 657 of them, is sex.

Well, sex if you’re “doing it right.”

How can that be? you ask.

It turns out you use your facial muscles for kissing; abs, chest, diaphragm, and neck to make sound; eye muscles as you look around or at your beloved; lower limbs, pelvis and core, legs, etc. Basically, if you’re really into sex, you’re tightening and exerting all of your muscles.

And the muscle that gives sex its unique status as the All-Muscle Activity is the bulbospongiosus, which — get this — is also known as the “sex hero muscle.” Both men and women have one, and it receives training during male erection and ejaculation, female clitoral erection, and orgasms for both of you.

Did you know you had a “sex hero muscle”? Well, now you do! Drag out your superhero cape and wear it with pride.

But are you currently using all of those muscles with the way you’re having sex? What should that total-body workout look like? Lead researcher Mike Aunger said, “Ideally it should last more than 30 minutes…. But I’ve got no stats on how long sex lasts for [the] average British couple. To be fair, 45 minutes would probably be better.”

Okay, so they’re British, and you’re whatever. However, I bet most married couples don’t go a whole 45 minutes. *sigh* And nice as they can be, quickies apparently don’t give you the full exercise experience.

Regardless, let’s look at a breakdown of the muscles and what actions you can take to use as many as possible:

Pucker up! Kissing exerts your facial muscles. And you don’t just have to kiss his lips. You’ve can come up with other smooch targets on his body.

Make noise. They say moaning uses your diaphragm, chest, and other muscles. It makes me wonder what yelling, “You’re my Superman!” does for a gal. (Asking for a friend.)

Leave the lights on. Your eye muscles get a work out, as you check out the view and your eyes dart around — that is, if you leave the lights on and can actually see. If you don’t like full light, try low lights or candlelight.

Move your neck. You’ll do it anyway, but it’s on the list of muscles that get worked out as you rotate or flex your head, look down and up, raise your shoulders … and so on. Maybe it’s a good thing when your kid knocks on your door, making you jerk your head up and respond, “Um, we’ll be out in a minute” — uses those neck muscles at least.

Try different positions. Your lower limbs get a better workout with interesting positioning. Your quads, biceps femoris (backsides of your thighs), and calves will thank you. For ideas, check out our Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast on sex positions.

Thrust. Okay, ladies, you don’t really thrust like your hubby does. But your pelvic and core muscles will be exerted if you engage your hips more in sexual activity. Tilt, swivel, and shift down there, and try woman-on-top from time to time, where you can take a lead role.

Use your arms. Your arm and shoulder muscles get more use in certain positions. That’s what the article I read mentioned, but it didn’t give specifics. But we can imagine that some positions require you to hold yourself in place. I also suggest stroking and caressing your hubby, maybe even massaging him where he likes.

Grip something. Your hand muscles get a workout when you grab something, like your husband’s shoulders or hips … or even something lower.

Let your heart pound. You don’t have to think about this one, because your heart muscle will do its own thing, getting a good workout during sex. But maybe you can at least appreciate how hard it’s pounding and that it’s a good thing for your health.

Go for the orgasm. That sex hero muscle (aka bulbospongiosus) does its thing when you’re in the throes of passion, with a clitoral erection and waves of pleasure we know as orgasm. So go for it! It’s good for you.

Now go forth and get healthy, y’all! See how many muscles you can use. If you’re “doing it right,” whatever that means, you’ll be giving all 657 muscles a healthy bit of exertion. And even if a muscle or two gets missed, you’ll be enjoying yourself. You’re welcome.

Sources: NPR: ‘Wait Wait’ For March 4 2017: With Not My Job Guest Jordan PeeleThe Telegraph-UK: Sexercise: 657 reasons why the ultimate workout happens between the sheets; Daily Mail.com: From texting to having sex: The ultimate full-body workout to flex your muscles WITHOUT hitting the gym