6 Things to Know About the Science of Sex

science of sex
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Besides the reason Mother Nature intended, sex has so many more personal health and happiness benefits than you might think. The main issue with sex is that we don't talk about it enough. The typically taboo topic can make us blush at the mere utterance of the word, but it's time to break free from our sheepish shackles and be empowered by it. So in that vein, we're undertaking our own sex education and highlighting everything you need to know about sex, according to science. From the positions to the personality traits that increase your chances, we guarantee you'll learn something new about this intimate act.

1. Women Want to Have It Just as Much as Men

While it comes as no surprise to most of us, now science finally backs us up: Women want to have sex. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, men in long-term relationships have been underestimating their female partner's level of sexual desire. Director of the Sexual Health Promotion Laboratory at the University of Kentucky, Kristen Mark, told The Wall Street Journal"The assumption that women are going to be the lower-desire partner needs to be thrown out." And we 100% concur. 

The takeaway: Communicate with your partner. Don't be shy about your desires, be empowered by your sexuality, and feel comfortable initiating sex. It takes two to tango.

2. Your Partner Is a Better Resource Than Magazines

If you truly want to improve your sex life and pleasure your partner, don't refer to articles with clickbait headlines such as "11 Orgasm Hacks You Need to Try" or "11 Things You Need to Do in Bed That He Secretly Loves." The only way you're going to find out what he or she really desires is by asking. According to sex researcher Nicole Prause, if we really want to blow our partner's mind in bed, then we need to start having more intimate conversations about what we like and what we don't.

"No one wants to be dumb at sex," said Prouse in an interview with New York Magazine. "But the expertise isn't embedded in the information, it's embedded in the individual." And the more sexual experiences we have, the higher chance of success. So more talking and more doing. 

The takeaway: Before you open a magazine or click on that headline, ask your partner what they like or dislike, and vice versa. 

3. The Best Time to Have It Isn't at Night

With our busy schedule, often the only time we have left in the day is at night and usually in bed. However, this isn't a great formula for sex success since we're usually exhausted and consequently not always in the best mood (although sex can definitely turn that around). Turns out, there is a scientifically proven time of the day for optimal sex, but it's not good news for those who work within traditional office hours. Hormone expert Alisa Vitti, author of the hormone guide WomanCode, found that 3 p.m. is the best time to have sex. Vitti said not only are men more interested in initiating sex at this time, but they also give women more emotional support.

If you can't test afternoon sex out during the week, then try a little afternoon delight this weekend.

The takeaway: Don't leave it until you're too tired to do it right. If you aren't home mid-day, initiate sex as soon as you get home from work, or in the morning before you get out of bed.

4. There Aren't as Many Positions as You Think

Have you tried numerous sex positions but always end up going back to the same old missionary or doggy style? Well, you're not alone. In fact, according to The Cut, there are only six positions used commonly in heterosexual intercourse: missionary, cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, doggy style, spooning, and standing.

"Despite what the sex-position-industrial complex would have you believe, there is not an endless number of ways to get it on," writes editor Gabriella Paiella. "This isn't to say that anyone attempting to make sex more interesting is wasting their time. There are innumerable ways to get creative in bed that don't involve consulting a manual and doing hamstring stretches in preparation." So don't be ashamed of your favorite standard sex position, because everybody's doing it, too. 

The takeaway: Give up on the Kama Sutra and just enjoy the sex positions you already know. Then get better at them.

5. Happy Couples Do It Once a Week

Contrary to popular belief, more sex doesn't equate to increased happiness. A study from researchers at the University of Toronto found that people who only have sex once a week are, in fact, the happiest. Research head Amy Muise wrote: "For the average person, having sex more frequently than once a week was not associated with greater happiness, but it wasn't associated with less happiness, either."

Many couples feel the pressure to have it more often, but Muise says it's time to turn the tension down. "It's important to maintain a sexual connection with a romantic partner, but it's also important to have realistic expectations for one's sex life," she said.

The takeaway: Don't guilt-trip yourself for not having it enough. More isn't always better.

6. Caring People Have More of It

If you want to get intimate more often, science says you should become more caring. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology found people who who reported being altruistic had more sex. Since the study was based on self-evaluation and reporting, there are plenty of variables (which means room for error), but we're fairly certain you don't need science to prove this as fact. So, it's time to change that well-known cliché to "nice girls finish first." 

The takeaway: Just be a nicer person. Not only will it improve your sex life, but it will make everything else in your life better, too.

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