Sex Drive: How Do Men and Women Compare?

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Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD connected June 27, 2022

You’ve astir apt heard things similar this: Men get turned connected astatine the slightest provocation and are acceptable to person enactment anytime, anywhere, portion women thin to privation enactment little often and person to beryllium “in the mood.” For years, that’s been the wide belief: Men conscionable person higher enactment drives than women.

Research has often been cited to backmost up the thought that, possibly due to the fact that of their higher testosterone levels, men deliberation much astir sex, question it much actively, and get turned connected much easily. Men’s sexuality is similar an on-off switch, portion women’s sexuality is simply a analyzable web of connections. Right?

Actually, no.

Other probe – on with an evolving knowing of sexuality, gender, and tendency – are telling america that sex drive doesn’t acceptable neatly into columns labeled “male” and female.”

“Not lone is the thought that men person higher enactment drives an oversimplified notion, but it’s truly conscionable not true,” says Sarah Hunter Murray, PhD, a matrimony and household therapist and the writer of Not Always successful the Mood: The New Science of Men, Sex, and Relationships.

Many Influences

“Our societal norms and the ways we’re raised to either thin into our sexuality oregon repress it person a immense interaction connected however we acquisition our sexuality and however we study it successful studies,” Hunter Murray says. “People raised arsenic men successful our nine person been typically fixed much support to talk openly astir wanting sex, portion young women person often been told not to explicit their sexuality.”

Justin Garcia, PhD, enforcement manager of the Kinsey Institute astatine Indiana University, agrees.

“Our intersexual involvement is driven by galore factors, including not lone biology, age, and usage of medications, but besides by concern – for some men and women,” helium says. “Sexual attitudes are affected importantly by societal and spiritual attitudes. If you’ve been told that expressing your sexuality is bad, implicit clip that volition interaction your consciousness of whether you should beryllium doing it oregon not.”

And those messages whitethorn person influenced the probe that has been telling america men privation enactment much than women.

Playing Into Stereotypes

In a 2007 study, researchers aimed to find retired however overmuch societal norms influenced however men and women reported intersexual behaviors including masturbation, their fig of intersexual partners, and watching pornography. The radical they studied – each assemblage students – were asked the aforesaid acceptable of questions but were divided into 3 groups.

One radical was told that the probe assistants (their college-aged peers) would spot their answers.A 2nd radical was connected to a prevarication detector instrumentality and told (incorrectly) that it would cognize if they were not telling the truth.The 3rd radical was not connected to the prevarication detector during their survey and was besides not told that their answers would beryllium seen.

In astir each questions, men and women tended to study antithetic levels of intersexual enactment erstwhile they thought peers would beryllium seeing their answers. Sex differences were overmuch smaller successful the prevarication detector group.

For example, erstwhile they believed peers would spot their responses, men reported masturbating overmuch much often than women did. But those differences virtually disappeared successful the prevarication detector group.

And erstwhile radical believed that their peers would spot their answers, men reported having astir 3.7 intersexual partners, portion women reported astir 2.6. In the prevarication detector group, men reported astir 4.4 intersexual partners and women astir 4.0.

Men Don’t Always Want Sex

Despite stereotypes, a important proportionality of men – arsenic galore arsenic 1 successful 6 – regularly person debased levels of intersexual desire, meaning debased capable for the idiosyncratic to spot it arsenic a problem. A 2010 reappraisal of aggregate studies recovered that astir 14% to 19% of men regularly and reliably indicated that they had problematically debased oregon decreased intersexual desire.

“Men aren’t walking robots that privation to person enactment astatine the driblet of a hat,” Hunter Murray says. “We often don’t springiness men support to speech astir the things that pb to debased enactment drive, specified arsenic narration dynamics, stress, exhaustion astatine work, parenting, and the chores and regular grind of life.”

Desire Disparities

It’s hard to gauge whether men truly privation enactment much than women erstwhile you’re interviewing either men oregon women successful isolation for research. If a antheral says helium wants enactment much than his pistillate spouse does, however bash you cognize she’d spot things the aforesaid way?

The fewer studies that person looked astatine intersexual tendency successful a “dyadic” narration – that is, they interviewed opposite-sex couples successful a narration with each different – person beauteous consistently recovered that men are nary much oregon little apt to beryllium the spouse who wants much sex, much often.

One of the archetypal studies to find this signifier was done much than 20 years ago. Among radical of 72 college-age, heterosexual couples, astir fractional reported that they had akin levels of intersexual desire. Among the couples who differed successful their desire, astir fractional of those said it was the antheral spouse who wanted enactment little often.

More recently, Hunter Murray published a akin survey of college-age couples that had overmuch the aforesaid results. About fractional of the couples had akin levels of desire. And among those who did not, men were conscionable arsenic apt arsenic women to beryllium the spouse with little enactment drive.

“Multiple studies amusement that men’s and women’s intersexual tendency levels are much akin than different,” Hunter Murray says. There has not been overmuch probe connected levels of tendency successful transgender and nonbinary people.

“Gender norms astir enactment thrust are outdated successful a batch of ways,” she says. “If there’s thing astir the mode you acquisition tendency that falls successful enactment with a stereotype, that’s fine, but truthful galore of america autumn extracurricular of these constricted boxes. There are men whose involvement successful enactment ranges from debased to none, to precise high, and it’s the aforesaid for women. As humans, we vary, and arsenic agelong arsenic your intersexual look is successful a steadfast mode that feels bully and close for you [and your partner(s)], chances are your acquisition is normal.”