Verified by Psychology Today. Myths of Desire. When we talk about men and women's sex drives, we too often default to using narrow, stereotypical categories. That is, we talk about men as having high desire and wanting sex all the time, and women as having lower, less intense sexual libidos. Research that explores anything counter to these stereotypical categories is lacking.
There is no right or wrong type or degree of desire for individuals or couples. Whether male or female, desire can manifest in a seemingly endless spectrum of forms, and it can range from high to low to nonexistent. It has Girl puppy skinny estimated that half of women experience different health problems in the ssxual of the vagina and vulvasuch as thinning, tightening, Very strong sexual desire in women or atrophy. Almost two years together and we still have sex days a week. Having a high sex drive as a woman is a blessing and a curse Eesire by HighDrive on June 10, - pm. Monogamy is--or we feel that it is--part of the crucial stitching that keeps our society together, that prevents all from unraveling.
Hardcore remix break. The Globe and Mail
It's not just about pretty pictures and fancy covers. Journal of Sex Research. As with low libido, there womdn a number of things that can skyrocket Very strong sexual desire in women sex drive to an unhealthy place. Testosterone is mainly synthesized in the testes in men and in the ovaries in women. Languages Add links. There are many researchers who believe that stressing any single approach to the study of human sexuality and excluding others is not logical and counterproductive. One of the symptoms of decreased sexual arousal in women is a reduced amount of vaginal lubrication. However, the development of various ways of measuring the construct allows for extensive Erotic douching to be conducted that facilitates the investigation of influences of sexual desire. Archived from the original Desir on 16 May Wexual from pharmacological solutions, you can also choose behavioral therapy to help increase sexual arousal. Archived from the original on January 21, Sign Up. Hugo Schwyzer teaches history and gender studies at Pasadena City College.
Not every person experiences sexual desire; those who do not experience it may be labelled asexual.
- Women want sex far more than we've been allowed to believe.
- Not every person experiences sexual desire; those who do not experience it may be labelled asexual.
- After all, if you feel satisfied with your sex life, these aspects of your sexuality can be difficult to separate from one another.
- Too high, too low, or juuust right?
- Definitions of sexual desire are broad and understandings of sexual desire are subjective.
Libido is influenced by biological , psychological , and social factors. Biologically, the sex hormones and associated neurotransmitters that act upon the nucleus accumbens primarily testosterone and dopamine , respectively regulate libido in humans. Libido can also be affected by medical conditions, medications, lifestyle and relationship issues, and age e.
A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly increased sex drive may be experiencing hypersexuality , while the opposite condition is hyposexuality. A person may have a desire for sex, but not have the opportunity to act on that desire, or may on personal, moral or religious reasons refrain from acting on the urge. Psychologically, a person's urge can be repressed or sublimated. On the other hand, a person can engage in sexual activity without an actual desire for it.
Multiple factors affect human sex drive, including stress, illness, pregnancy, and others. A review found that, on average, men have a higher desire for sex than women. Sexual desires are often an important factor in the formation and maintenance of intimate relationships in humans. A lack or loss of sexual desire can adversely affect relationships.
Changes in the sexual desires of any partner in a sexual relationship, if sustained and unresolved, may cause problems in the relationship. The infidelity of a partner may be an indication that a partner's changing sexual desires can no longer be satisfied within the current relationship. Problems can arise from disparity of sexual desires between partners, or poor communication between partners of sexual needs and preferences. Sigmund Freud , who is considered the originator of the modern use of the term,  defined libido as "the energy, regarded as a quantitative magnitude He also explained that it is analogous to hunger, the will to power, and so on  insisting that it is a fundamental instinct that is innate in all humans.
Freud developed the idea of a series of developmental phases in which the libido fixates on different erogenous zones—first in the oral stage exemplified by an infant's pleasure in nursing , then in the anal stage exemplified by a toddler's pleasure in controlling his or her bowels , then in the phallic stage , through a latency stage in which the libido is dormant, to its reemergence at puberty in the genital stage.
Freud pointed out that these libidinal drives can conflict with the conventions of civilised behavior, represented in the psyche by the superego. It is this need to conform to society and control the libido that leads to tension and disturbance in the individual, prompting the use of ego defenses to dissipate the psychic energy of these unmet and mostly unconscious needs into other forms.
Excessive use of ego defenses results in neurosis. A primary goal of psychoanalysis is to bring the drives of the id into consciousness , allowing them to be met directly and thus reducing the patient's reliance on ego defenses.
Freud viewed libido as passing through a series of developmental stages within the individual. Failure to adequately adapt to the demands of these different stages could result in libidinal energy becoming 'dammed up' or fixated in these stages, producing certain pathological character traits in adulthood. Thus the psychopathologized individual for Freud was an immature individual, and the goal of psychoanalysis was to bring these fixations to conscious awareness so that the libido energy would be freed up and available for conscious use in some sort of constructive sublimation.
According to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung , the libido is identified as the totality of psychic energy, not limited to sexual desire. Libido is appetite in its natural state. From the genetic point of view it is bodily needs like hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex, and emotional states or affects, which constitute the essence of libido. Defined more narrowly, libido also refers to an individual's urge to engage in sexual activity , and its antonym is the force of destruction termed mortido or destrudo.
Libido is governed primarily by activity in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens. Other neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and sex hormones that affect sex drive by modulating activity in or acting upon this pathway include:. A woman's desire for sex is correlated to her menstrual cycle , with many women experiencing a heightened sexual desire in the several days immediately before ovulation ,  which is her peak fertility period, which normally occurs two days before until two days after the ovulation.
According to Gabrielle Lichterman, testosterone levels have a direct impact on a woman's interest in sex. According to her, testosterone levels rise gradually from about the 24th day of a woman's menstrual cycle until ovulation on about the 14th day of the next cycle, and during this period the woman's desire for sex increases consistently. The 13th day is generally the day with the highest testosterone levels.
In the week following ovulation, the testosterone level is the lowest and as a result women will experience less interest in sex. Also, during the week following ovulation, progesterone levels increase, resulting in a woman experiencing difficulty achieving orgasm.
Although the last days of the menstrual cycle are marked by a constant testosterone level, women's libido may get a boost as a result of the thickening of the uterine lining which stimulates nerve endings and makes a woman feel aroused. Although some specialists disagree with this theory, menopause is still considered by the majority a factor that can cause decreased sex desire in women. The levels of estrogen decrease at menopause and this usually causes a lower interest in sex and vaginal dryness which makes intercourse painful.
However, the levels of testosterone increase at menopause and this may be why some women may experience a contrary effect of an increased libido. Certain psychological or social factors can reduce the desire for sex.
These factors can include lack of privacy or intimacy , stress or fatigue , distraction or depression. Environmental stress, such as prolonged exposure to elevated sound levels or bright light , can also affect libido.
Other causes include experience of sexual abuse, assault, trauma, or neglect, body image issues, and anxiety about engaging in sexual activity. Physical factors that can affect libido include endocrine issues such as hypothyroidism , the effect of certain prescription medications for example flutamide , and the attractiveness and biological fitness of one's partner, among various other lifestyle factors.
In males, the frequency of ejaculations affects the levels of serum testosterone, a hormone which promotes libido. A study of 28 males aged 21—45 found that all but one of them had a peak Anemia is a cause of lack of libido in women due to the loss of iron during the period. Smoking , alcohol abuse , and the use of certain drugs can also lead to a decreased libido.
Some people purposefully attempt to decrease their libido through the usage of anaphrodisiacs. On the other hand, a reduced libido is also often iatrogenic and can be caused by many medications, such as hormonal contraception , SSRIs and other antidepressants , antipsychotics , opioids and beta blockers.
Testosterone is one of the hormones controlling libido in human beings. Emerging research  is showing that hormonal contraception methods like oral contraceptive pills which rely on estrogen and progesterone together are causing low libido in females by elevating levels of sex hormone binding globulin SHBG.
SHBG binds to sex hormones, including testosterone, rendering them unavailable. Research is showing that even after ending a hormonal contraceptive method, SHBG levels remain elevated and no reliable data exists to predict when this phenomenon will diminish. Males reach the peak of their sex drive in their teens, while females reach it in their thirties. In contrast, a female's libido increases slowly during adolescence and peaks in her mid-thirties.
There is no widely accepted measure of what is a healthy level for sex desire. Some people want to have sex every day, or more than once a day; others once a year or not at all. However, a person who lacks a desire for sexual activity for some period of time may be experiencing a hypoactive sexual desire disorder or may be asexual. A sexual desire disorder is more common in women than in men.
The American Medical Association has estimated that several million US women suffer from a female sexual arousal disorder , though arousal is not at all synonymous with desire, so this finding is of limited relevance to the discussion of libido. Also, women commonly lack sexual desire in the period immediately after giving birth. Moreover, any condition affecting the genital area can make women reject the idea of having intercourse.
It has been estimated that half of women experience different health problems in the area of the vagina and vulva , such as thinning, tightening, dryness or atrophy. Frustration may appear as a result of these issues and because many of them lead to painful sexual intercourse, many women prefer not having sex at all.
Surgery or major health conditions such as arthritis , cancer , diabetes , high blood pressure , coronary artery disease or infertility may have the same effect in women.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Libido disambiguation. For other uses, see Sex Drive disambiguation. A person's overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity.
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Important figures.
Important works. Schools of thought. Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. See also: Sexual motivation and hormones. See also: Hypoactive sexual desire disorder and Hypersexuality. Lust Sexual arousal Sexual attraction Sexual desire Sexual motivation and hormones. B Biol. The sex drive evolved to motivate individuals to seek a range of mating partners; attraction evolved to motivate individuals to prefer and pursue specific partners; and attachment evolved to motivate individuals to remain together long enough to complete species-specific parenting duties.
These three behavioural repertoires appear to be based on brain systems that are largely distinct yet interrelated, and they interact in specific ways to orchestrate reproduction, using both hormones and monoamines. Animal studies indicate that elevated activity of dopaminergic pathways can stimulate a cascade of reactions, including the release of testosterone and oestrogen Wenkstern et al.
Likewise, increasing levels of testosterone and oestrogen promote dopamine release This positive relationship between elevated activity of central dopamine, elevated sex steroids and elevated sexual arousal and sexual performance Herbert ; Fiorino et al. This parental attachment system has been associated with the activity of the neuropeptides, oxytocin OT in the nucleus accumbens and arginine vasopressin AVP in the ventral pallidum The activities of central oxytocin and vasopressin have been associated with both partner preference and attachment behaviours, while dopaminergic pathways have been associated more specifically with partner preference.
Baumeister, Kathleen R. Catanese, and Kathleen D. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. All the evidence we have reviewed points toward the conclusion that men desire sex more than women. Although some of the findings were more methodologically rigorous than others, the unanimous convergence across all measures and findings increases confidence. We did not find a single study, on any of nearly a dozen different measures, that found women had a stronger sex drive than men.
Retrieved July 28, Sex and Society. New York: Marshall Cavendish. New York: Fordham University Press.
When it comes to sex, do you feel like a little kid at a birthday-cake free-for-all? Second, a socio-cultural theory where desire is conceptualized as one factor in a much larger context i. Continue Reading. Testosterone is mainly synthesized in the testes in men and in the ovaries in women. We blame hormones for everything from chocolate cravings to crazy mood swings.
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Sexual desire - Wikipedia
Daniel Bergner, a journalist and contributing editor to the New York Times Magazine , knows what women want--and it's not monogamy. His new book, which chronicles his "adventures in the science of female desire," has made quite a splash for apparently exploding the myth that female sexual desire is any less ravenous than male sexual desire. The book, What Do Women Want , is based on a article, which received a lot of buzz for detailing, among other things, that women get turned on when they watch monkeys having sex and gay men having sex, a pattern of arousal not seen in otherwise lusty heterosexual men.
That women can be turned on by such a variety of sexual scenes indicates, Bergner argues, how truly libidinous they are. This apparently puts the lie to our socially manufactured assumption that women are inherently more sexually restrained than men--and therefore better suited to monogamy.
Detailing the results of a study about sexual arousal, Bergner says : "No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, [women] showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly--and markedly, though to a lesser degree than during all the human scenes except the footage of the ambling, strapping man--as they watched the apes.
Far from being more sexually modest and restrained than the male libido, the female sex drive is "omnivorous" and "at base, nothing if not animal" writes Bergner. He says: "One of our most comforting assumptions, soothing perhaps above all to men but clung to by both sexes, that female eros is much better made for monogamy than the male libido, is scarcely more than a fairy tale.
Monogamy is among our culture's most cherished and entrenched ideals. We may doubt the standard, wondering if it is misguided, and we may fail to uphold it, but still we look to it as to something reassuring and simply right.
It defines who we aim to be romantically; it dictates the shape of our families, or at least it dictates our domestic dreams; it molds our beliefs about what it means to be a good parents.
Monogamy is--or we feel that it is--part of the crucial stitching that keeps our society together, that prevents all from unraveling. Women are supposed to be the standard's more natural allies, caretakers, defenders, their sexual beings more suited, biologically, to faithfulness. We hold tight to the fairy tale. We hold on with the help of evolutionary psychology, a discipline whose central sexual theory comparing women and men--a theory that is thinly supported--permeates our consciousness and calms our fears.
And meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies search for a drug, a drug for women, that will serve as monogamy's cure. Bergner thinks that monogamy is society's way of constraining female sexuality.
He implies that this constraint is unjust and prudish. He is not alone. Salon 's Tracy Clark-Flory hailed his book for revealing "how society's repression of female sexuality has reshaped women's desires and sex lives Bergner, and the leading sex researchers he interviews, argue that women's sexuality is not the rational, civilized and balancing force it's so often made out to be--that it is base, animalistic and ravenous, everything we've told ourselves about male sexuality.
On its face, the flexible arousability of the female sex drive seems to be an indication of its strength, and that is what Bergner implies. But in truth, it is an indication of the very opposite, its weakness. Bergner's thesis that women are turned on by more stimuli than men does not mean that they are less monogamous than men.
In fact, the very flexibility of the female sex drive implies that women are more willing to prioritize monogamy over their libido. For that to make sense, it's important to understand that the female sex drive can be simultaneously weak and "omnivorous.
That is the view of the highly cited psychological researcher Roy Baumeister, who this year won a major lifetime achievement award from the Association for Psychological Science.
About a decade ago, he set out to determine if the female sex drive was indeed weaker than the male sex drive. He was inspired to do so when he noticed , in the course of his research, that the influence of "cultural and social factors on sexual behavior On measure after measure, Baumeister found, women were more sexually adaptable than men.
Lesbians, for instance, are more likely to sleep with men than gay men are with women. Reports indicate that women's attitudes to sex change more readily than men's do. For instance, in one study, researchers compared the attitudes toward sex of people who came of age before and after the sexual revolution of the s; they found that women's attitudes changed more than men's. The sexual patterns of couples also indicate that women are sexually adaptable. The female libido fluctuates throughout the month, based on ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
But couples do not appear to have sex more or less frequently based on what time of the month it is. A survey looked at how the gap between how frequently men and women desire sex and how often they actually have sex; the gap is bigger for women, 82 percent of whom had sex when they did not desire it, compared to 60 percent of men.
What could explain this flexibility? Baumeister proposed that "Women might be more willing to adapt their sexuality to local norms and contexts and different situations, because they aren't quite so driven by strong urges and cravings as men are.
When Baumeister set out to compare the male and the female sex drive about a decade ago, the four leading psychology textbooks of the time either did not address the fact that the male and female sex drive were different, or they suggested that they were the same. When he presented his hypothesis--that the male sex drive is stronger than the female drive--to peers in his field, they were skeptical. They believed, as Baumeister puts it, that "the idea that men have a stronger sex drive than women was probably some obsolete, wrong, and possibly offensive stereotype.
So Baumeister and two female colleagues set to work reviewing hundreds of studies about human sexuality and found consistently that women are less motivated by sex than men are. For men, they found, the goal of sex is sex itself. One study found that seven in ten men--compared to four in ten women--said the goal of sexual desire was simply having sex.
In the same study, 35 percent of women said that love and intimacy were important goals of sex compared to 13 percent of men. Men also think about sex more, according to studies. When men and women monitor their sexual urges over a seven-day period, men report having twice as many sexual urges as women do. Bergner and others might chalk these findings up to society's sexual double standard: Men are allowed to be more sexual than women and, therefore, they are more forthcoming about their sexual urges.
But this doesn't seem to be the case. Men feel guiltier about sex. They feel guiltier about masturbating than women do 13 percent versus 10 percent and they feel guiltier about thinking about sex than women do.
For instance, men report having more unwanted and uncontrollable thoughts about sex. In one survey, men responded more affirmatively to the following statements than women did: "I think about sex more than I would like" and "I must fight to keep my sexual thoughts and behavior under control.
The sexual patterns of Catholic priests and nuns are relevant here. Catholic clergy are a group of people who have imposed the exact same constraint of chastity upon themselves, removing any sort of double standard. A survey found that most priests masturbate. A study of several hundred clergy found that 62 percent of male clergy and 49 percent of female clergy had been sexually active since taking their vows, and the men had had more partners--about a quarter of the clergymen had five or more partners while only three percent of the women had that many.
In marriage, where women are encouraged to have sex, they still want to do so at lower rates. A survey of couples who had been married for 20 years found that men wanted more sex than their wives. As Baumeister and his colleagues write , "Wives consistently reported that they were quite satisfied with the amount of sex they had in their marriages, but men on average wished for about a 50 percent increase.
One way to examine the sexual differences between men and women is to compare the amount of sex gay men and lesbian women are having. The research here indicates that women are far more monogamous than men. In one study, 82 percent of gay men reported having had sex outside of their relationship whereas only 28 percent of lesbians did. Over 40 percent of gay men in relationships reported having had more than 20 partners outside of their relationship while only 1 percent of lesbians did.
In a study, four out of ten gay men reported having over sexual partners while no lesbians did. This was, of course, before AIDS changed the equation. So men, without the constraint of a woman saying no, appear to be far more promiscuous than women. That is, they refuse many offers or chances for sexual activity. When sex happens, it is because the woman has changed her vote from no to yes. Would you like to go to bed with me tonight? Exactly zero women did. One important thing to understand about monogamy is a point that Bergner misses.
Monogamy is not meant to satisfy the female libido. It would be far-fetched for anyone to argue that, especially when the evidence runs in the opposite direction: Monogamy kills eros. But monogamy is a cultural constraint aimed at protecting the natural result of sex--namely, children. As Robert Wright explains in The Moral Animal , "The genetic payoff of having two parents devoted to a child's welfare is the reason men and women can fall into swoons over one another, including swoons of great duration.
Bergner dismisses evolutionary biology, bizarrely equating it with fundamentalist Christianity. But he gives a wonderful example of it in action when he presents the case of Isabel, a lawyer in her early thirties whose sex life with her boyfriend falls flat, a defect in their relationship that does not prevent her from agreeing to marry him.
After all, Isabel's relationship with her previous boyfriend Michael, a man ten years older than her, was far more erotic, Bergner tells us. But Isabel broke it off. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Emily Esfahani Smith is a writer based in Washington, D.