When it comes to sex, some men are from Mars and others from Venus, say researchers from The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University.
Men in the study expressed a wide range of experiences and feelings relating to things like the relationship between erections and desire, the importance of scent and relationships, and a woman's intelligence.
"We have a lot of assumptions about how men think and feel and behave sexually," said Erick Janssen, associate scientist at the Kinsey Institute.
The study involved 50 men divided into three groups based on their age (18-24 years, 25-45 years and 46 and older).
Here are some of the key findings:
- Some factors, such as depression or a risk of being caught having sex, were reported by some men as inhibiting sex, while other men found that they can enhance their desire and arousal.
- An erection is not the main cue for men to know they are sexually aroused. Most of the men responded that they can experience erections without feeling aroused or interested, leading researchers to suggest that erections are not good criteria for determining sexual arousal in men.
- Many men found it difficult to distinguish between sexual desire and sexual arousal, a distinction prominent in most sexual response models currently being used by researchers and clinicians.
- The changes in the quality of older men's erections had a direct effect on their sexual encounters, including, for some, a shifting focus to the partner and her sexual enjoyment. Older men also consistently mentioned that as they aged, they became more careful and particular in choosing sexual partners.
- The sexual history of women also mattered to the men - but differently for different age groups. Sexually experienced women were considered more threatening by younger men, who had concerns about "measuring up," but such women were considered more arousing for older men.
The researchers have been working for more than 10 years on a theoretical model that focuses on sexual excitation and sexual inhibition. They refer to this as the dual control model of sexual response. It holds that separate and relatively independent activating and suppressing sexual systems exist within the central nervous system and that the balance between these two systems determines a person's sexual response in any particular situation.
Janssen relates this to the gas and brake pedals in a vehicle - both can influence a car's behaviour (you can slow down by letting go of the gas or by pressing the brake) but they do so in different ways.
"One of the main conclusions of the study is that, just like women, men are different," Janssen said. "Sex researchers tend to focus a lot on differences between men and women, while not giving as much attention to the differences that exist among men, and women."
The study is published in the April issue of the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour. - (EurekAlert)
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