Health Check: What Controls Our Sex Drive? When And Why Do We Feel Like Sex?

Men might think about sex more often than women, but they also think more about food and sleep, which probably means they’re just more needs-based in general. from www.shutterstock.com.au

Kristy Hamilton 29 Sep 2016, 15:11

The Conversation

Sexual desire can change from moment to moment. One minute you’re feeling frisky, and the next you just feel like a cup of tea and a nap.

Even though sexual desire is exciting and pretty important in terms of how we ended up here, research on when and why we experience sexual desire is limited.

Our research seeks to shed some light on the nature of sexual desire; how it differs between people and within the same person.

Do men have a stronger sex drive?

Are men hot-blooded, sex-driven creatures that think about sex every seven seconds? Not quite. Men do think about sex more than women (34 times compared to 19 times a day – so about every 1,700 seconds), but men also think about food and sleep more than women. So, men are needs-driven creatures, not sex-driven per se.

It should also be noted women are far from sexless creatures, around 20 separate sexual thoughts per day is well over one per waking hour.

Do we desire sex less as we age?

Age is another thing we might think has a big effect on sexual desire. A study of adults aged 18-59 found as we get older we are more prone to sexual dysfunctions. For example, older men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and older women are more likely to experience difficulty lubricating, which can lead to vaginismus (pain during sex).

However, ageing is not necessarily associated with a decrease in sexual desire. Two national surveys of Finnish adults aged 18-74 and 18-81 found once a number of other factors were accounted for, including sexual functioning, attitudes towards sex, and relationship closeness, ageing had no effect on sexual desire.

Ageing was, however, related to having sex less often, even after controlling for these factors. So perhaps older people feel just as frisky as they did when they were in their 20s, but, for whatever reason, they are less likely to engage in sex.

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