You know sex feels good and is good for you. But researchers recently tackled some of the things you may not know—like how money affects intimacy—and may think you know—like how many calories doing the deed actually burns. Click through for the sexy scoop on the nine most interesting studies—and their shocking results. After all, the more you know about sex, the more you might get it!
Read more: Sex Statistics – Facts About Sex
1. The higher a woman’s desire for sex, the higher her standards for potential partners.
You’d think the more someone craves sex, the more willing that single would be to settle. Not so with women. According to the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Research in Personality, as a lady’s longing for a one-night stand heightens, she becomes more discerning, seeking out only the most physically attractive men. Guys, on the other hand, consider all women as potential partners, regardless of beauty. That’s because men just want sex, so they take whatever they can get. Meanwhile, women are programmed to hit the gene-pool jackpot, looking for dominant, attractive men—even if they’re not trying to conceive. Bottom line: Good-looking guys have nothing to worry about.
2. Men with higher-earning wives are more likely to have erectile dysfunction.
More money, more problems? The February 2013 issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin says so. Looking at more than 200,000 married couples, the Denmark study found that husbands who rake in even slightly less cash than their wives are more likely to take medications for erectile dysfunction. The difference in income also affects the higher-salaried women, who take more anti-anxiety meds and are more likely to have insomnia. What’s behind these findings? With the percentage of out-earned husbands rising, the break from the long-standing social norm of breadwinning men seems to be linked with the mental and physical health of both partners.
3. Sex and alcohol make people happier than having children.
Let’s talk about sex (and babies), baby. Researchers at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury asked study participants to rank a list of 30 activities on how pleasurable, meaningful and engaging they are. Sex topped all three categories. Drinking alcohol came in as a close second while childcare came in fifth. And people aren’t just happy while they’re having sex or boozing it up. Lead researcher Carsten Grimm says that people who do the things that rank highly for those three aforementioned categories are happier in general.
4. Husbands who do more housework have less sex.
A helpful hubby may not get it on as much as his chore-averse counterparts, according to the February 2013 issue of the American Sociological Review. Examining 4,500 couples, researchers found that men who do chores traditionally delegated to women (like ironing, doing the laundry and cooking) have sex less often than couples who divide housework based on customary gender roles. The reason? A man fixing the occasional broken sink pipe may be more arousing than one loading the dishwasher. Before you tell your husband to put down the laundry detergent, keep in mind the study’s data was collected 20 years ago, though researchers believe the results are relevant today. It’s also worth noting that the study didn’t measure couple’s quality of sex, so traditional couples don’t necessarily have better nookie; they just do it more often.
5. Economics majors have the most sexual partners.
Who said money can’t buy love? According to a StudentBeans.com survey of about 5,000 students from over 100 universities across the UK, the average economics major has had nearly five sexual partners from the time he or she starts college. In comparison, media studies majors have three while environmental science majors have fewer than two. In addition to econ grads’ coveted incomes, the major is considered an intelligent, open-minded curriculum choice, which may make those who study it extra-eligible for bedroom action.
6. Couples who travel together have better sex.
As if getaways weren’t great enough, a February 2013 study commissioned by the US Travel Association found that couples who vacation together at least once a year have more satisfying sex lives. Out of 1,100 adults surveyed, 77% of those who took couples trips rated their sex lives highly, as compared to only 66% of those who stayed put. Besides the sexy perks, weekend trips keep the romance alive for 83% of couples and spark more intimacy than small gifts do. So the next time a birthday or holiday rolls around, skip the chocolates and flowers, and pack those bags!
7. Having multiple sex partners in young adulthood is connected to later drug and alcohol abuse.
Using data from the ongoing Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study—which is following over 1,000 people born in the 1970s in Dunedin, New Zealand—a study in the February 2013 issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior revealed that those who have several sex partners throughout early adulthood are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as they age, especially women who have 2.5 partner or more per year; they’re between seven and 17 times more at risk for substance abuse. The results were consistent even after taking previous disorders, including drug and alcohol addiction, into consideration. Researchers suspect that substance abuse may be linked to promiscuity because they’re both risk-taking behaviors young adults are more likely than their older counterparts to try.
8. Sex can ease headaches.
If you forgo fooling around because your head hurts, you’re losing out on an effective treatment. Even though past research has hailed romps as headache-healers, a study in the February 2013 issue of Cephalalgia tested the hypothesis on a larger scale, surveying 800 headache sufferers and 200 migraine sufferers. Symptoms lessened for 60% of those who had sex during a migraine episode, while 37% of those with headaches saw improvement in their condition. The release of painkilling endorphins during intercourse is most likely why aches dissipate.
9. The average sex session burns only 21 calories.
Sweaty trysts aren’t reasons to skip the gym. In a study from the February 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the oft-reported 300 to 400 calories burned from sex stat is bogus. More findings: Intercourse lasts an average of six minutes and burns just 21 calories in that time, equivalent to walking 2.5 miles. Although the overall study is questioned for bias due to a half-page worth of conflicts of interest, these particular conclusions may be on track. If the average half-hour sex session burns at least 144 calories, a 15-minute quickie zaps off 72, and seven-and-a-half minutes of between-the-sheets time is worth only 36. Taking sex positions, stamina and other circumstances into consideration, 21 calories isn’t so far off.