A Sex Therapist On Overcoming Male Sexual Performance Anxiety (Video)

“It’s high time that we stop with the oversimplification of men and the overcomplication, by the way, of women.” – Esther Perel

One of the most popular stereotypes of male sexuality is that men want sex all of the time because they’re just “wired” that way. In other words, sex is seen as a largely biological function for men, with their emotional and psychological states having little to do with it. This stereotype can be harmful because it can make a guy start to wonder what’s wrong with him when he doesn’t want sex but his partner does–and to the extent that this becomes a chronic source of concern, it can create performance anxiety and detract from his ability to become and stay aroused in the future. This is but one of the many reasons why it’s important for us to rethink our assumptions about male sexuality.

As sex therapist Esther Perel explains in the video below, we need to recognize that men’s sexuality isn’t completely detached from their psychology–there’s an intimate interconnection between men’s sexual performance and their emotional states. As a result, we shouldn’t just assume that when men experience sexual difficulties that the underlying problem is biological in nature. Check out the video below to learn more and for some practical tips from Perel for overcoming sexual performance anxiety.

To learn more about research on the psychological and emotional factors that affect men’s sexual desire, check out this article.

Seeking Participants For Sex Studies!

If you’re reading this, odds are that you love learning about the latest sex research. But really, who doesn’t? Have you ever wanted to go beyond reading about it, though, perhaps by taking part in an actual sex study (or two)? If so, check out the Sex Studies page, which is updated regularly with calls for participation from sex scientists across the globe. Ten studies have already been added since the beginning of this year alone!

Feel free to participate in as many or as few studies as you would like. However, please be sure to review the eligibility criteria first to ensure that you’re a good fit for a given study before signing up. Current participation opportunities cover a diverse set of topics from how people communicate during kink and BDSM sexual encounters to their attitudes toward casual sex to their experiences using online dating and hookup apps.

Any help you can provide by taking part in one of these studies and/or by spreading the word about these research opportunities (e.g., sharing the Sex Studies page on Facebook or tweeting a link to it) would be greatly appreciated and will help to advance our understanding of human sexuality.

If I may (selfishly) call your attention to one research opportunity in particular, I am still recruiting participants for a survey about sexual fantasies and would greatly appreciate your participation. This survey has been underway for quite some time, but I’m trying to collect as large of a sample as possible. If you’ve already taken part, thank you! To learn more about this study, please click here.

Thank you for your contributions to the science of sex!

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates.

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The G-Spot Isn’t What You Think It Is

Few aspects of genital anatomy have sparked as much scientific debate as the so-called G-spot (also known as the Grafenberg spot). Some researchers have argued that it is a distinct anatomic site, claiming to have found definitive evidence for its existence, whereas others have argued that the evidence behind such claims is far from convincing. 

For example, a 2012 case report published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine described the G-spot as a “well‐delineated sac with walls that resembled fibroconnective tissues and resembled erectile tissues.” By contrast, a review paper published in the same journal in 2012 concluded that “objective measures have failed to provide strong and consistent evidence for the existence of an anatomical site that could be related to the famed G‐spot.”

So what’s the deal? Is the G-spot a distinct part of female genital anatomy or not?

A new study aimed to clear things up by providing one of the largest and most thorough anatomic explorations ever of this area. This study is the subject of my latest column over at TONIC and it was based on the results of 13 post-mortem dissections of the front wall of the vagina (note that the G-spot is usually described as being on the front wall of the vagina, about one-third of the way inside).

The results of this investigation turned up no evidence of a unique anatomic structure corresponding to the G-spot (at least not one that the researchers could see macroscopically, or with the naked eye). The findings suggest that perhaps rather than thinking of the G-spot as a unique structure within the genital region, it may instead be better thought of as the area where the internal part of the clitoris, the urethra, and vagina all happen to intersect.

To learn more about this study, check out the full article over at TONIC.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates.

For more on this research, see: Hoag, N., Keast, J. R., & O’Connell, H. E. (2017). The “G-Spot” Is Not a Structure Evident on Macroscopic Anatomic Dissection of the Vaginal Wall. The Journal of Sexual Medicine14(12), 1524-1532.

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The 4 Main Reasons People Stop Having Kids

Why do people who start a family decide it’s time to stop having children? A new set of studies published in the journal Marriage and Family Review identifies 4 primary factors that motivate people to stop procreating (incidentally, this study also identified the main reasons people decide to start having children in the first place, which you can learn more about in this post).

In the first study, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 30 parents to identify the different reasons that led them to have not have additional children. From these interviews, they generated a list of 23 potential motivations. In the second study, 536 adults were given this list of motivations and asked to indicate which of these factors led them to stop having children in the past or that were likely to stop them from having more kids in the future.

Statistical analyses were then performed to find which of the motivations clustered or hung together in order to extract broader themes. The 4 themes that emerged in the end were as follows (note that they are listed in order from most- to least-commonly endorsed):

1.) Satiation (e.g., “I feel that I already have enough children,” “I don’t feel that I have the necessary energy it takes for another child,” “I feel complete with the child/children that I already have”)

2.) Lack of time (e.g., “I don’t have enough time to dedicate to them,” “Due to professional responsibilities,” “I don’t have enough time to dedicate to the children I already have”)

3.) Pragmatic reasons (e.g., “For financial reasons,” “The conditions in this world are so negative that I wouldn’t want to bring more children into the world,” “There is no space in the house for another child”)

4.) Biological constraints (e.g., “There are serious illnesses in my family and I wouldn’t want to have children that are likely to suffer from these illnesses,” “I had a difficult pregnancy/my wife had a difficult pregnancy with our previous child or children,” “I have health problems that make it difficult/impossible to have more children, although I would like to”)

Of course, this list doesn’t necessarily comprise all possible reasons people decide to stop having kids; however, it does offer a sense of some of the most common, overarching factors that stop procreation. It also tells us that these factors are biopsychosocial in nature, meaning they can be due to our own biology, our psychological state(s), and/or the social and environmental factors that surround us.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates.

To learn more about this research, see: Apostolou, M., & Hadjimarkou, M. (2018). Domains of Motivation in Men and Women for Initiating and Terminating Procreation in an Evolutionary Perspective. Marriage & Family Review.

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How Many Americans Didn’t Have Sex Last Year?

Most people have sex at least once in their lives. For example, in a longitudinal study of over 20,000 American adolescents who were surveyed repeatedly over a 15-year period, just 3% of them reported never having had vaginal, anal, or oral sex at any point. However, just because someone does it once, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will remain sexually active throughout their lives.

For a variety of reasons, many people go through long periods of sexlessness, and a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into just how common this is. This study is the subject of my latest column over at TONIC and it’s based on 14 years of data from the U.S. General Social Survey.

What the authors of this study found is that approximately 1 in 7 men and 1 in 4 women said they didn’t have any sexual partners in the past year. In addition, 1 in 11 men and 1 in 6 women said that they hadn’t had any partners in the past five years. As you can see, some people went for very long stretches of time without being sexually active. However, it’s important to note that “sex” wasn’t defined in this study, so we don’t necessarily know what people were counting when they answered these questions.

With that said, I should highlight that the people who weren’t having sex weren’t any less happy than those who were sexually active. In other words, sexlessness doesn’t necessarily mean being unhappy. When you think about it, there are a few good reasons for this, not the least of which is that some people may be sexless by choice (e.g., asexual persons). Also, just because you’re having sex, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re having good sex (quality is more important than quantity, after all!).

To learn more about the link between sex and happiness, as well as some of the factors associated with sexlessness, check out the full article here.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates. 

To learn more about this research, see: Kim, J. H., Tam, W. S., & Muennig, P. (2017). Sociodemographic Correlates of Sexlessness Among American Adults and Associations with Self-Reported Happiness Levels: Evidence from the US General Social Survey. Archives of sexual behavior46(8), 2403-2415.

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Changes In Americans’ Attitudes Toward And Experiences With Infidelity In The Last Two Decades

Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.

In this study, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed nine waves of data from the U.S. General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey that is conducted most years. In total, they looked at the responses of 13,030 Americans collected between the years 2000 and 2016. Participants were asked about their attitudes toward sex outside of marriage, as well as whether they’d had extramarital sex in the last year and in their entire lifetime (note that only married participants answered the latter questions).

They found that the number of Americans who said that extramarital sex is “always wrong” declined over time, while the number who said it was “wrong only sometimes” increased. While statistically significant, these changes were rather small—we’re only talking changes in the range of 2-4 percentage points.

It’s also worth noting that, at each time period, at least 75% of respondents said that infidelity was “always wrong,” which tells us that most Americans continue to be very disapproving of sex outside of marriage. Only a small number have grown more accepting in recent years.

That said, men and people who had cheated previously were more accepting of infidelity than women and people who hadn’t cheated before; however, the vast majority of persons in all of these groups disapproved of the behavior. So, overall, Americans in general don’t appear to be cool with the idea of cheating.

As for how many people had actually cheated, the lifetime prevalence for married men was 21.4%, whereas for married women it was 13.4%. In addition, 4.1% of married men and 2.0% of married women reported cheating each year on average. This gender difference is consistent with previous research and is often interpreted through an evolutionary lens (specifically, the idea that men are likely to experience more reproductive advantages from having a large number of sexual partners than women).

The annual rate of cheating did not change over time; however, there was a slight decrease in the reported lifetime prevalence of cheating, which declined by about 1.5 percentage points over the 16 years of the study. The authors suggest that one potential explanation for this is the declining marriage rate, which may be producing a selection effect that is reducing the odds of experiencing infidelity—although if that’s the case, it’s not clear why the annual rate of cheating didn’t change significantly as well.

While these findings offer some insight into some of the changes in Americans’ attitudes toward and experiences with infidelity, keep in mind that they’re limited to the context of extramarital sex—plus, the questions didn’t specify what “sex” was, which means people may have intentionally chosen not to count certain activities (e.g., oral sex). Further, the General Social Survey doesn’t distinguish between infidelity and open marriages, so both get lumped together, which means these results might be overestimating the prevalence of infidelity.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post about this study in which we’ll consider the fascinating question of who married Americans are cheating with—is it with people they know or is it with strangers? Also, do men and women cheat with different types of partners? I’ll have the answers next time

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates. 

To learn more about this research, see: Labrecque, L.T., & Whisman, M.A. (2017). Attitudes toward and prevalence of extramarital sex and descriptions of extramarital partners in the 21st century. Journal of Family Psychology.

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International Women’s Day

Note: Our definition of women is inclusive of trans women and our definition of feminism includes intersectionality, a theory created by Kimberlé Crenshaw.

Today is International Women’s Day. This is a day when we consciously celebrate and honour the achievements of all self-identified women throughout the world. We also take the opportunity to highlight some of the many inequalities women face, recognize the rights and freedoms for which we are still fighting, and stand up for what we believe in.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress:
From InternationalWomensDay.com:

“With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo#TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

And while we know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. Plus, there’s indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.

So we can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let’s all Press for Progress.”

How will you Press for Progress? We invite you to consider this today, and every day, and take actions to bring equality and equity for all women.

If you are looking for a specific way to take action, consider making a donation, and please consider Options for Sexual Health. Options for Sexual Health is an organization with deep feminist roots. We celebrate and champion sexual health. Your donation to Opt provides access to services throughout the province of British Columbia and gives people access to much needed sexual health services including access to safe and informative space to make their own sexual health decisions.  To donate to Opt, click here.

Photo is from https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

The Effects of Partner Presence and Sexual Stimulation on the Appraisal of Vaginal Pressure and Sexual Arousal


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Click here to view the full text on ScienceDirect.

Figure 1

Overview of the experimental condition. After each condition, women report on their subjective sexual arousal, perceived genital arousal, and painful and pleasant vaginal pressure. Men report on their subjective arousal.

Figure 2

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on ratings of pleasant pressure in women at high levels of female relationship satisfaction when watching a sex film.

Figure 3

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on genital arousal responses of women when watching a sex film.

Figure 4

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on genital arousal responses of women who are highly satisfied with their relationship.

Figure 5

Interaction between partner presence and film type on subjective sexual arousal of men and women.

Figure 6

Interaction between sex and pressure induction in women on the subjective sexual arousal responses of men and women.

Figure 7

Interaction between film type and pressure on subjective sexual arousal of men and women.

Figure 8

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on subjective sexual arousal in men and women when the female partner is highly dissatisfied with the relationship.

Figure 9

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on subjective sexual arousal in men and women when the male partner is highly dissatisfied with the relationship.



Sex research lacks experimental studies in which both partners participate in a laboratory procedure. This is relevant in the context of genital pain because painful vaginal sensations often occur in the presence of the partner.


To examine the effects of partner presence, sexual stimulation, and vaginal pressure on the appraisal of vaginal sensations and sexual arousal, ultimately aiming to increase the ecologic validity of laboratory designs.


A community sample of 42 women and their male partners watched sexual and neutral films while separated or together. We induced gradually increasing vaginal pressure in the women using an intravaginal inflatable rubber balloon.


Women reported on pleasant and painful vaginal pressure and perceived genital arousal. Men and women reported on subjective sexual arousal. We also examined whether these appraisals were moderated by relationship satisfaction.


The appraisal of vaginal pressure varied as a function of relationship satisfaction. Less satisfied women reported more painful pressure than women who were highly satisfied and highly satisfied women appraised the pressure as more pleasant in the context of a sex film and in the presence (vs absence) of their partner. In men and women, although partner presence had a negative effect on subjective sexual arousal, the presence of the partner did increase women’s perception of genital arousal when vaginal pressure was induced during a sex film, particularly when women felt highly satisfied with their relationship. Also, the effects on subjective sexual arousal were moderated by relationship satisfaction. For couples in which the woman was less satisfied, the induction of vaginal pressure resulted in higher subjective sexual arousal when the partner was absent compared with when he was present, whereas when the man felt less satisfied, partner presence had a positive effect on sexual arousal.

Clinical Implications

Interventions need to focus on the importance of sexual arousal during vaginal pressure stimulation and the way this is shaped by partner and relationship variables. Our results indicate that enhancing the relationship climate is an important target of intervention.

Strengths and Limitations

We did not include physical indices of genital arousal and did not use a clinical sample of women with genital pain.


The appraisal of vaginal sensations and sexual arousal are context-dependent responses that vary as a function of partner presence and sexual stimulation. Including both partners in the laboratory setting is important to create more valid models on sexual responding.

Dewitte M, Schepers J, Melles R. The Effects of Partner Presence and Sexual Stimulation on the Appraisal of Vaginal Pressure and Sexual Arousal. J Sex Med 2018;15:539–549.

Findings From the Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles

This study was a secondary analysis of the 3rd National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), a prospective stratified probability sample of British individuals 16 to 74 years old interviewed from 2010 to 2012. We assessed for an association between sexual function and the following comorbidities: heart attack, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease, depression, other mental health conditions, other neurologic conditions, obesity, menopause, incontinence, smoking status, and age.

Patterns in Vulvodynia Treatments and 6-Month Outcomes for Women Enrolled in the National Vulvodynia Registry

Of 344 women enrolled, 282 received treatment; 78 different treatments were identified and categorized by type (eg, topical, oral, physical therapy) and number. The most commonly used treatments were topical (85%, n = 241), physical therapy (52%, n = 147), and oral medications (45%, n = 128). Notably, 73% of participants received ≥2 treatments. There was no association between type or number of treatments and patient characteristics. At 6 months, women reported improvements in general pain (P = .001), pain during intercourse (P = .001), catastrophizing (P = .000), and anxiety (P = .000). The Short Form-12 quality-of-life questionnaire showed improvements in physical limitations (P = .024), emotional limitations (P = .003), well-being (P = .025), and social function (P = .010). However, all domains of the Female Sexual Function Index indicated worsening in sexual function (P = .000) except for pain.