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Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
See also hóthoțhộthớt and HOT



Alternative forms

  • (physically attractive): hawt (slang, especially Internet), hott (slang, especially Internet)


Old English hāt.



hot (comparative hottersuperlative hottest)

  1. Of an object, having a high temperature.
    He forgot the frying pan was hot, and dropped it suddenly.
  2. Of the weather, causing the air to be hot.
    It is too hot to be outside.
    It is hotter in summer than in winter.
  3. Of a person or animal, feeling the sensation of heat, especially to the point of discomfort.
    I was so hot from being in the sun too long.
    Aren’t you hot with that thick coat on?
  4. Feverish.
  5. Of food, spicy.
    Before moving to India, I never ate hot food. The Indians love spicy food.
  6. (informal) Very good, remarkable, exciting. [from the 19th c.]
    He’s a hot young player, we should give him a trial.
  7. Stolen. [from the 20th c.]
    hot merchandise
  8. (incomparable) Electrically charged
    hot wire
  9. (informalRadioactive. [from the 20th c.]
  10. (slang) Of a person, very physically or sexually attractive.
    That girl is hot!
  11. (slangSexual; involving sexual intercourse or sexual excitement.  [quotations ▼]
  12. Popular; in demand.
    His new pickup is hot!
  13. Very close to finding or guessing something to be found or guessed.
    Am I warm yet? — You’re hot!
  14. Performing strongly; having repeated successes  [quotations ▼]
  15. Fresh; just released  [quotations ▼]
  16. Uncomfortable, difficult to deal with; awkwarddangerousunpleasant.  [quotations ▼]
  17. Compromising  [quotations ▼]




Derived terms

[show ▼]Terms derived from the adjective hot


[show ▼]having a high temperature
[show ▼]of the weather
[show ▼]feeling the sensation of heat
[show ▼]feverish
[show ▼]spicy
[show ▼]slang: stolen
[show ▼]electrically charged
[show ▼]radioactive
[show ▼]slang: physically very attractive
[show ▼]popular, in demand
[show ▼]very close to finding or guessing something to be found or guessed
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
[show ▼]Translations to be checked


hot (third-person singular simple present hotspresent participle hottingsimple past and past participle hotted) (especially when followed by up)

  1. To heat, or to become hot
  2. To become lively or exciting



Pennsylvania German



  1. Third-person singular simple present indicative form of hawwe.




hot n

  1. threat


[show ▼]Declension of hot

Related terms

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Sexual arousal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Martin van Maele‘s print Francion 15

Sexual arousal (also sexual excitement) is the arousal of sexual desire, during or in anticipation of sexual activity. A number of physiological changes occur in the body and mind as preparation for sex and continue during it. Genital changes are not the only changes but noticeable and necessary for consensual and comfortable intercourse. When men are fully aroused they typically get an erection. When women are aroused, they typically get engorged sexual tissues (nipples; vulva; clitoris;vaginal walls) and vaginal lubrication (wetness). There are mental stimuli and physical stimuli such as touch and the internal fluctuation of hormones which can cause a person to become sexually aroused.

Sexual arousal has several stages and may not lead to any actual sexual activity, beyond a mental arousal and the physiological changes that accompany it. Given sufficient stimulation, sexual arousal in humans will typically end in an orgasm; it may also be pursued for its own sake, even in the absence of an orgasm.



There are several informalities, terms and phrases to describe sexual arousal including hornyturned onrandysteamy, and lustful.[1][2] Things that precipitate human sexual arousal are called erotic stimuli, colloquially known as turn-ons.

Erotic stimuli

Main article: Erogenous zone

Depending on the situation, a person can be sexually aroused by a variety of factors, both physical and mental. A person may be sexually aroused by another person or by particular aspects of that person, or by a non-human object. The physical stimulation of an erogenous zone or acts of foreplay can result in arousal, especially if it is accompanied with the anticipation of imminent sexual activity. Sexual arousal may be assisted by a romantic setting, music or other soothing situation. The potential stimuli for sexual arousal vary from person to person, and from one time to another, as does the level of arousal.

Stimuli can be classified according to the sense involved: somatosensory (touch), visual, and olfactory (scent). Auditory stimuli are also possible, though they are generally considered secondary in role to the other three. Erotic stimuli which can result in sexual arousal can include conversation, reading, films or images or a smell or setting, any of which can generate erotic thoughts and memories in a person. Given the right context, these may lead to the person desiring physical contact, includingkissingcuddling, and petting of an erogenous zone. This may in turn make the person desire direct sexual stimulation of those parts of their body which would normally be out of bounds, such as breastsnipplesbuttocks and/or genitals, and to sexual activity. The erotic stimuli may originate from a source unrelated to the object of subsequent sexual interest. For example, many people may find nudityerotica or pornography sexually arousing,[3] which may generate a general sexual interest which is satisfied with sexual activity. When sexual arousal is achieved by or dependent on the use of objects, it is referred to as sexual fetishism, or in some instances aparaphilia.

There is a common belief that women need more time to achieve arousal. However, recent scientific research has shown that there is no considerable difference for the time men and women require to become fully aroused. Scientists from McGill University Health Centre in MontrealCanada used the method of thermal imaging to record baseline temperature change in genital area to define the time necessary for sexual arousal. Researchers studied the time required for an individual to reach the peak of sexual arousal while watching sexually explicit movies or pictures and came to the conclusion that on average women and men took almost the same time for sexual arousal — around 10 minutes.[4] The time needed for foreplay is very individualistic and varies from one time to the next depending on many circumstances.[4]

Unlike many other animals, humans do not have a mating season, and both sexes are potentially capable of sexual arousal throughout the year.

Sexual arousal disorders

Sexual arousal for most people is a positive experience and an aspect of their sexuality, and is often sought. A person can normally control how they will respond to arousal. They will normally know what things or situations are potentially stimulating, and may at their leisure decide to either create or avoid these situations. Similarly, a person’s sexual partner will normally also know his or her partner’s erotic stimuli and turn-offs. Some people feel embarrassed by sexual arousal and some are sexually inhibited. Some people do not feel aroused on every occasion that they are exposed to erotic stimuli, nor act in a sexual way on every arousal. A person can take an active part in a sexual activity without sexual arousal. These situations are considered normal, but depend on the maturity, age, culture and other factors influencing the person.

However, when a person fails to be aroused in a situation that would normally produce arousal and the lack of arousal is persistent, it may be due to a sexual arousal disorder or hypoactive sexual desire disorder. There are many reasons why a person fails to be aroused, including a mental disorder, such as depression, drug use, or a medical or physical condition. The lack of sexual arousal may be due to a general lack of sexual desire or due to a lack of sexual desire for the current partner. A person may always have had no or low sexual desire or the lack of desire may have been acquired during the person’s life. There are also complex philosophical and psychological issues surrounding sexuality. Attitudes towards life, death, childbirth, one’s parents, friends, family, contemporary society, the human race in general, and particularly one’s place in the world play a substantive role in determining how a person will respond in any given sexual situation.

On the other hand, a person may be hypersexual, which is a desire to engage in sexual activities considered abnormally high in relation to normal development or culture, or suffering from a persistent genital arousal disorder, which is a spontaneous, persistent, and uncontrollable arousal, and the physiological changes associated with arousal.

Physiological changes

Sexual arousal causes different physical changes, most significantly in the sex organs (genital organs). Sexual arousal for a man is usually indicated by the swelling anderection of the penis when blood fills the corpus cavernosum. This is usually the most prominent and reliable sign of sexual arousal in males. In a woman, sexual arousal leads to increased blood flow to the clitoris and vulva, as well as vaginal transudation – the seeping of moisture through the vaginal walls which serves as lubrication.

In females: In males:
Female sexual arousal.JPG

Female sexual arousal. In the left image female genitalia are in normal state. In the right image the female is sexually aroused, the vulva is wet and the labia are slightlyengorged.


Male sexual arousal. On the left of the image the male genitalia are in regular, flaccid state; on the right the male is sexually aroused and his penis has become erect.

Female physiological changes

The beginnings of sexual arousal in a woman‘s body is usually marked by vaginal lubrication (wetness), swelling and engorgement of the external genitals, and internal enlargement of the vagina.[5] There have been studies to find the degree of correlation between these physiological responses and the woman’s subjective sensation of being sexually aroused: the findings usually are that in some cases there is a high correlation, while in others, it is surprisingly low.[6]

Further stimulation can lead to further vaginal wetness and further engorgement and swelling of the clitoris and the labia, along with increased redness or darkening of the skin in these areas. Further changes to the internal organs also occur including to the internal shape of the vagina and to the position of the uterus within the pelvis.[5]Other changes include an increase in heart rate as well as in blood pressure, feeling hot and flushed and perhaps experiencing tremors.[7] A sex flush may extend over the chest and upper body.

If sexual stimulation continues, then sexual arousal may peak into orgasm. After orgasm, some women do not want any further stimulation and the sexual arousal quickly dissipates. Instructions have been published for keeping the sexual excitement going and moving from one orgasm into further stimulation and maintaining or regaining a state of sexual arousal that can lead to second and subsequent orgasms.[8] Some women have experienced such multiple orgasms quite spontaneously.

While young women may become sexually aroused quite easily, and reach orgasm relatively quickly with the right stimulation in the right circumstances, there are physiological and psychological changes to women’s sexual arousal and responses as they age. Older women produce less vaginal lubrication and studies have investigated changes to degrees of satisfaction, frequency of sexual activity, to desire, sexual thoughts and fantasies, sexual arousal, beliefs about and attitudes to sex, pain, and the ability to reach orgasm in women in their 40s and after menopause. Other factors have also been studied including socio-demographic variables, health, psychological variables, partner variables such as their partner’s health or sexual problems, and lifestyle variables. It appears that these other factors often have a greater impact on women’s sexual functioning than their menopausal status. It is therefore seen as important always to understand the “context of women’s lives” when studying their sexuality.[9]

Reduced estrogen levels may be associated with increased vaginal dryness and less clitoral erection when aroused, but are not directly related to other aspects of sexual interest or arousal. In older women, decreased pelvic muscle tone may mean that it takes longer for arousal to lead to orgasm, may diminish the intensity of orgasms, and then cause more rapid resolution. The uterus typically contracts during orgasm, and with advancing age, those contractions may actually become painful.[9]

Male physiological changes

It is normal to correlate the erection of the penis with male sexual arousal. Physical or psychological stimulation, or both, leads to vasodilation and the increased blood flow engorges the three spongy areas that run along the length of the penis (the two corpora cavernosa and the corpus spongiosum). The penis grows enlarged and firm, the skin of the scrotum is pulled tighter, and the testes are pulled up against the body.[10] However the relationship between erection and arousal is not one-to-one. After their mid-forties, some men report that they do not always have an erection when they are sexually aroused.[11] Equally, a male erection can occur during sleep (nocturnal penile tumescence) without conscious sexual arousal or due to mechanical stimulation (e.g. rubbing against the bed sheet) alone. A young man — or one with a strong sexual drive — may experience enough sexual arousal for an erection to result from a passing thought, or just the sight of a passerby. Once erect, his penis may gain enough stimulation from contact with the inside of his clothing to maintain and encourage it for some time.[12]

As sexual arousal and stimulation continues, it is likely that the glans or head of the erect penis will swell wider and, as the genitals become further engorged with blood, their color deepens and the testicles can grow up to 50% larger. As the testicles continue to rise, a feeling of warmth may develop around them and the perineum. With further sexual stimulation, the heart rate increases, blood pressure rises and breathing becomes quicker.[10] The increase in blood flow in the genital and other regions may lead to a sex flush sometimes, in some men.[13]

As sexual stimulation continues, the muscles of the pelvic floor, the ductus deferens (between the testicles and the prostate), the seminal vesicles and the prostate glanditself may begin to contract in a way that forces sperm and semen into the urethra inside the penis. This is the onset of orgasm and it is likely, once this has started, that the man will continue to ejaculate and orgasm fully, with or without further stimulation.

Equally, if sexual stimulation stops before orgasm, the physical effects of the stimulation, including the vasocongestion, will subside in a short time. Repeated or prolonged stimulation without orgasm and ejaculation can lead to discomfort in the testes that is sometimes called blue balls.[14]

After orgasm and ejaculation, men usually experience a refractory period characterised by loss of erection, a subsidence in any sex flush, less interest in sex, and a feeling of relaxation that can be attributed to the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin.[15] The intensity and duration of the refractory period can be very short in a highly aroused young man in what he sees as a highly arousing situation, perhaps without even a noticeable loss of erection. It can be as long as a few hours or days in mid-life and older men.[10]

Psychological changes

See also: Libido

Psychological sexual arousal involves appraisal and evaluation of a stimulus, categorization of a stimulus as sexual, and an affective response.[16] The combination of cognitive and physiological states elicits psychological sexual arousal.[17][18] Some suggest that psychological sexual arousal results from an interaction of cognitive and experiential factors, such as affective state, previous experience, and current social context.[19]


Research suggests that cognitive factors like sexual motivation, perceived gender role expectations, and sexual attitudes play important roles in women’s self-reported levels of sexual arousal.[20] In her alternative model of sexual response, Basson[21][22] suggests that women’s need for intimacy prompts them to engage with sexual stimuli, which leads to an experience of sexual desire and psychological sexual arousal. Psychological sexual arousal also has an effect on physiological mechanisms; Goldey and van Anders[23] showed that sexual cognitions impact hormone levels in women, such that sexual thoughts result in a rapid increase in testosterone in women who were not using hormonal contraceptives. In terms of brain activation, researchers have suggested that amygdala responses are not solely determined by level of self-reported sexual arousal; Hamann and colleagues[24] found that women self-reported higher sexual arousal than men, but experienced lower levels of amygdala responses.


The relationship between sexual desire and arousal in men is complex, with a wide range of factors increasing or decreasing sexual arousal.[25] Physiological responses, such as heart rateblood pressure, and erection, are often discordant with self-reported subjective perceptions of arousal.[26] This inconsistency suggests that psychological, or cognitive aspects, also have a strong effect on sexual arousal. The cognitive aspects of sexual arousal in men are not completely known, but it does involve the appraisal and evaluation of the stimulus, categorization of the stimulus as sexual, and an affective response.[27] Research suggests that cognitive factors, such as sexual motivation, perceived gender role expectations, and sexual attitudes, contribute to sex differences observed in subjective sexual arousal. Specifically, while watching visual stimuli, men are more influenced by the sex of an actor portrayed in the stimulus, and men typically prefer a stimulus that allows objectification of the actor and projection of themselves into the scenario.[28] For more information on cognitions and sexual arousal visit the American Psychological Association: The science of sexual arousal. There are reported differences in brain activation to sexual stimuli, with men showing higher levels of amygdala and hypothalamic responses than women. This suggests the amygdala plays a critical role in the processing of sexually arousing visual stimuli in men.[29]

Models of human sexual response

Human sexual response cycle

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson conducted many important studies into human sexuality. In 1966, they releasedHuman Sexual Response, detailing four stages of physiological changes in humans during sexual stimulation: excitementplateauorgasm, and resolution.[30]

Singer’s model of sexual arousal

Singer presents a model of the process of sexual arousal, in which he conceptualized human sexual response to be composed of three independent but generally sequential components. The first stage, aesthetic response, is an emotional reaction to noticing an attractive face or figure. This emotional reaction produces an increase in attention toward the object of attraction, typically involving head and eye movements toward the attractive object. The second stage, approach response, progresses from the first and involves bodily movements towards the object. The final genital response stage recognizes that with both attention and closer proximity, physical reactions result in genital tumescence. Singer also notes that there is an array of other autonomic responses, but acknowledges that the research literature suggests that the genital response is the most reliable and convenient to measure in males.[31]

Basson’s sexual response cycle

Basson presents an alternative model to the human sexual response cycle that is specific to women’s sexual response.[32] She argues that gender differences in sex drive, sexual motivation, sexual concordance, and capacity for orgasm underlie the need for an alternative model of sexual response. While the human sexual response cycle begins with desire, followed by arousal, orgasm, and finally resolution, Basson’s[33] alternative model is circular and begins with women feeling a need forintimacy, which leads her to seek out and be receptive to sexual stimuli; women then feel sexual arousal, in addition to sexual desire. The cycle results in an enhanced feeling of intimacy. Basson emphasizes the idea that a lack of spontaneous desire should not be taken as an indication of female sexual dysfunction; many women experience sexual arousal and responsive desire simultaneously when they are engaged in sexual activity.[32]

Toates’ incentive-motivation model

Toates presents a model of sexual motivation, arousal, and behavior that combines the principles of incentive-motivation theory and hierarchical control of behavior. The basic incentive-motivation model of sex suggests that incentive cues in the environment invade the nervous system, which results in sexual motivation. Positive sexual experiences enhance motivation, while negative experiences reduce it. Motivation and behaviour are organized hierarchically; each are controlled by a combination direct (external stimuli) and indirect (internal cognitions) factors. Excitation and inhibition of behavior act at various levels of this hierarchical structure. For instance, an external stimulus may directly excite sexual arousal and motivation below a conscious level of awareness, while an internal cognition can elicit the same effects indirectly, through the conscious representation of a sexual image. In the case of inhibition, sexual behavior can be active or conscious (e.g., choosing not to have sex) or it can be passive or unconscious (e.g., being unable to have sex due to fear). Toates emphasizes the importance considering cognitive representations in addition to external stimuli; he suggests that mental representations of incentives are interchangeable with excitatory external stimuli for eliciting sexual arousal and motivation.[34]

Assessment of genital arousal

See also: Psychophysiology

One way to study sexual arousal in women and men is to conduct sexual psychophysiological research in a laboratory setting. This field of research looks at physical sexual responses in addition to mental and emotional experiences of sexual arousal.[35]


Sexual arousal in women is characterized by vasocongestion of the genital tissues, including internal and external areas (e.g., vaginal wallsclitoris, and labia). There are a variety of methods used to assess genital sexual arousal in women. Vaginal photoplethysmography (VPG) can measure changes in vaginal blood volume or phasic changes in vasocongestion associated with each heartbeat. Clitoral photoplethysmography functions in a similar way to VPG, but measures changes in clitoral blood volume, rather than vaginal vasocongestion. Thermography provides a direct measure of genital sexual arousal by measuring changes in temperature associated with increased blood flow to the external genital tissues. Similarly, labial thermistor clips measure changes in temperature associated with genital engorgement; this method directly measures changes in temperature of the labia. More recently, laser doppler imaging (LDI) has been used as a direct measure of genital sexual arousal in women. LDI functions by measuring superficial changes in blood flow in the vulvar tissues.


One of the responses involved with sexual behaviour in males is penile erection; therefore, the volume (or circumference) change during penile erection is a convenient measure of sexual arousal, which was first developed by Kurt Freund.[36] This measurement of blood flow to the male genitals is known as penile plethysmography. This is commonly measured using a strain gauge, which is a simple mercury strain gauge encompassed in a ring of rubber. The ring surrounds the penis, but does not constrict or cause discomfort.[37] The measure is found to be a reliable and valid measurement of male arousal.[38] More recently, thermography has been developed to measure the physiological measurements of sexual arousal. Studies have found temperature change specific to the genitals during sexual arousal, which supports the validity of this measure.[39]


Category-specificity refers to a person showing sexual arousal to the categories of people they prefer to have sex with. Sexual arousal studies involving category-specificity look at genital responses (physiological changes), as well as subjective responses (what people report their arousal levels to be). Category-specific sexual arousal is more commonly found amongst men than women.[40][41] Heterosexual men experience much higher genital and subjective arousal to women than to men. This pattern in reversed for homosexual men.[42]

Studies have found that women have a non-category-specific genital response pattern of sexual arousal, meaning their genital responses are only modestly related to their preferred category.[43] On the other hand, female subjective responses are category-specific, because they typically report their highest level of arousal to their preferred stimulus, although the reported difference in levels of arousal is typically much smaller than those in men.[44] A possible explanation for the non-category specific genital arousal in women, which also accounts for their high individual variation, is the “preparation hypothesis”. This hypothesis suggests that, provided there is enough of an increase in vaginal blood flow for vaginal lubrication to occur in a sexual context, the magnitude of arousal need not be consistent. That is, the hypothesis is that vaginal lubrication can take place as a protective mechanism even in a non-preferred sexual situation, such as when sex is non-consensual.[44]


Sexual arousal results in a combination of physiological and psychological factors, like genital sexual response and subjective experience of sexual arousal. The degree to which genital and subjective sexual response correspond is termed concordance. Research has shown a reliable gender difference in concordance of sexual arousal, such that men have a higher level of concordance between genital and subjective sexual responding than women do.[45] Some researchers argue that this gender difference can be attributed to the type of method used to assess genital responding in women. There may be a difference in women’s ability to perceive internal versusexternal genital engorgement subjectively, as measured by vaginal photoplethysmography (VPG) and thermography respectively. Chivers and colleagues[46] found that men’s and women’s concordance was more similar when thermography was used as a measure of genital sexual arousal than when VPG was used. However, few studies using thermography have been conducted and further research is required to determine whether the gender difference in concordance is a measurement artifact or a true phenomenon.

Hormones and sexual arousal

Several hormones affect sexual arousal, including testosteronecortisol, and estradiol. However, the specific roles of these hormones are not clear.[47] Testosterone is the most commonly studied hormone involved with sexuality. It plays a key role in sexual arousal in males, with strong effects on central arousal mechanisms.[47] The connection between testosterone and sexual arousal is more complex in females. Research has found testosterone levels increase as a result of sexual cognitions in females that do not use hormonal contraception.[48] Also, women who participate in polyandrous relationships have higher levels of testosterone. However, it is unclear whether higher levels of testosterone cause increased arousal and in turn multiple partners or whether sexual activity with multiple partners cause the increase in testosterone.[49] Inconsistent study results point to the idea that while testosterone may play a role in the sexuality of some women, its effects can be obscured by the co-existence of psychological or affective factors in others.[47]

Two birds who appear to be exhibiting affection

In other animals

Main article: Animal sexual behavior

While human sexuality is well understood, scientists do not completely grasp how other animals relate sexually. However, current research studies suggest that many animals, like humans, enjoy sexual relations that are not limited to reproduction.Dolphins and bonobos, for example, are both well known to use sex as a “social tool to strengthen and maintain bonds.”[50]Ethologists have long documented the exchanges of sex to promote group cohesion in social animals. Cementing social bondage is one of the most prominent theorized selective advantages of group selection theory. Experts in the evolution of sexsuch as John Maynard Smith advocate for the idea that the exchange of sexual favors helps congeal and localize the assortment of alleles in isolated population and therefore is potentially a very strong force in evolution. Maynard Smith also has written extensively on the “seminal fluid swapping theory” logistic application of the assortment of alleles as a more accurate synthetic depiction of the Hardy Weinberg Equilibrium in cases of severely interbreeding populations.

Evolutionary models

The effect of sexual response is thought to be a plastic positive reinforcement behavior modifier associated with the Baldwin Effect. The end result of these sorts of things can be very novel structures such as the pseudo-penis of the female spotted hyena.[51] The display of secondary sex characteristics in humans such as a penis-like enlarged clitoris in females during arousal and gynecomastia in males are thought to have once been objects of mate selection in human evolution because of the persistence of the phenomenon of these features invoking sexual arousal for potential mates in cross-cultural studies.[52] A dramatic example of this is the high rates of secondary sex characteristic dimorphism in some Southeast Asia human populations.[53]

See also


  1. ^ http://www.thefreedictionary.com/horny
  2. ^ http://www.synonyms.net/synonym/aroused
  3. ^ DeVita-Raeburn, Elizabeth. “Lust For The Long Haul “. Psychology Today. 2008-12-26 http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=20051209-000001&page=4.
  4. a b “Your introduction to foreplay”. Archived from the originalon 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  5. a b Soucasaux, Nelson (1990). “The Female Sexual Response”Novas Perspectivas em Ginecologia. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  6. ^ Rellini, Alessandra H.; Katie M. McCall, Patrick K. Randall, Cindy M. Meston (January 2005). “The relationship between women’s subjective and physiological sexual arousal”. Psychophysiology 42 (1): 116–124.doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.2005.00259.x.
  7. ^ McKinne, Kathleen (1991). Sexuality in close relationship. Routledge. pp. 59. ISBN 0-8058-0719-5.
  8. ^ O’Rourke, Theresa. “Orgasms Unlimited”Cosmopolitan. Hearst Communications. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  9. a b “Age-Related Factors that Impact Sexual Functioning”. sexualityandu.ca. 2008. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  10. a b c “Sexual arousal in men”NHS DirectNational Health Service.
  11. ^ Janssen, Erick; Kimberly R. McBride, William Yarber, Brandon J. Hill and Scott M. Butler (April 2008). “Factors that Influence Sexual Arousal in Men: A Focus Group Study”Archives of Sexual Behavior 37 (2). doi:10.1007/s10508-007-9245-5.
  12. ^ “Embarrassing erections”TheSite.org. YouthNet UK. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  13. ^ Kennard, Jerry (2006). “Sexual Arousal”Men’s health. About.com.
  14. ^ Weinzimer, S.A. & Thorton, P.S., [“Blue balls”], “Pediatrics, 108(5), 1233-1234”, 2001
  15. ^ Exton MS, Krüger TH, Koch M, et al. (April 2001). “Coitus-induced orgasm stimulates prolactin secretion in healthy subjects”. Psychoneuroendocrinology 26(3): 287–94. doi:10.1016/S0306-4530(00)00053-6.PMID 11166491.
  16. ^ Basson, R. “A model of women’s sexual arousal”,”Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 28, 1-10”, 2002.
  17. ^ Basson, R. [“A model of women’s sexual arousal”],”Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 28, 1-10”, 2002.
  18. ^ Chivers, M. L. [“Leading comment: A brief review and discussion of sex differences in the specificity of sexual arousal”], “Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 20(4), 377-390”, 2005
  19. ^ Rupp, H. A., & Wallen, K.[“Sex differences in response to visual sexual stimuli: A review”], “Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(2), 206-218”, 2008
  20. ^ Rupp, H. A., & Wallen, K.[“Sex differences in response to visual sexual stimuli: A review”], “Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(2), 206-218”, 2008
  21. ^ Basson, R. “The female sexual response: A different model”], “Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 26, 51-65”, 2000
  22. ^ Basson, R. [“Using a different model for female sexual response to address women’s problematic low sexual desire”], “Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 27, 395-403”, 2001
  23. ^ Goldey, K. L., & van Anders, S. M. [“Sexy thoughts: Effects of sexual cognitions on testosterone, cortisol, and arousal in women”], “Hormones & Behavior, 59, 754-764”, 2011
  24. ^ Hamann, S., Herman, R. A., Nolan, C. L., & Wallen, K., [“Men and women differ in amygdala response to visual sexual stimuli”], “Nature Neuroscience, 7, 411-416”, 2003
  25. ^ Janssen, E., McBride, K. R., Yarber, W., Hill, B. J., & Butler, S. M., [“Factors that influence sexual arousal in men: A focus group study”], “Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 252-265”, 2008
  26. ^ Chivers, M.L., Reiger, G., Latty, E., & Bailey, J.M., [“A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal”], “Psychological Science, 15(11), 736-744”, 2004
  27. ^ Basson, R., [“Human sex response cylcles”], “Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 27, 33-43”, 2002
  28. ^ Rupp, H.A. & Wallen, K., [“Sex differences in responses to visual sexual stimuli: A review”], “Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37(2), 206-218”, 2008
  29. ^ Hamann, S., Herman, R. A., Nolan, C. L., & Wallen, K., [“Men and women differ in amygdala response to visual sexual stimuli”], “Nature Neuroscience, 7, 411-416”, 2003
  30. ^ “The Sexual Response Cycle”SexInfoUniversity of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved 2007-04-24. “Masters and Johnson’s Four-Phase Model: The sexual responses of men and women have many similarities….”
  31. ^ Singer, B. Conceptualizing sexual arousal and attraction. The Journal of Sex Research. 1984; 20, 230-240
  32. a b Basson, R. [“The female sexual response: A different model”], “Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 26, 51-65”, 2000
  33. ^ Basson, R. [“Using a different model for female sexual response to address women’s problematic low sexual desire”], “Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 27, 395-403”, 2001
  34. ^ Toates, F. [“An integrative theoretical framework for understanding sexual motivation, arousal, and behaviour”], “Journal of Sex Research, 46(2-3), 168-193”, 2009
  35. ^ Rosen, R.C., & Beck, J. G. [“Patterns of sexual arousal: Psychophysiological processes and clinical application”], “New York: Guilford Press”
  36. ^ Freund, [“A note on the use of the phallometric method of measuring mild sexual arousal in the male”], “Behavior therapy”, 1971
  37. ^ Barlow, D. H., Becker, R., Leitenberg, H., Agras, W. S., [“A mechanical strain gauge for recording penile circumference change”], “Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 3(1): 73–76”, 1970
  38. ^ McConaghy, [“Validity and ethics of penile circumference measures of sexual arousal: A critical review”], “Archives of Sexual Behavior, 18: 357-369”, 1989
  39. ^ Kukkonen, T. M., Binik, Y. M., Amsel, r., & Carrier, S., [“An evaluation of the validity of thermography as a psysiologial measure of sexual arousal in a non-university adult sample”], “Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 861-873”, 2010
  40. ^ Chivers, M.L., “Leading comment: A brief review and discussion of sex differences in the specificity of sexual arousal.”, “Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 4, 377-390.”, 2005
  41. ^ Chivers, M. L., “A brief update on the specificity of sexual arousal”, Psychological Science, 15(11), 736-744, 2010
  42. ^ Freund, K., “A laboratory method for diagnosing predominance of homo- or hetero-erotic interest in the male”, Behavior Research and Therapy, 1, 85–93, 1963
  43. ^ Chivers, M.L., Reiger, G., Latty, E., & Bailey, J.M., “A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal”, Psychological Science, 15(11), 736-744, 2004
  44. a b Suschinsky, K. D., & Lalumière, M. L., “Category-specificity and sexual concordance: The stability of sex differences in sexual arousal patterns”, The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 20, 93-108, 2011
  45. ^ Suschinsky K. D., Lalumière, M. L., & Chivers, M. L. [“Sex difference in patterns of genital sexual arousal: Measurement artifact or true phenomenon?”], Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 559-573, 2009
  46. ^ Chivers, M. L., Seto, M. C., Lalumière, M. L., Laan, E., & Grimbos, T. [“Agreement of self-reported and genital measures of sexual arousal in men and women: A meta-analysis”], Archives of Sexual Behavior, 6, 1678-1687, 2010
  47. a b c Bancroft, J., [“The endocrinology of sexual arousal”], “Journal of Endocrinology, 2005
  48. ^ Goldey, K.L., Van Anders, S. M., [“Sexy thoughts: Effects of sexual cognitions on testosterone, cortisol, and arousal in women”], “Hormones & Behavior, 59, 754-764”, 2011
  49. ^ Van Anders, S. M., Hamilton, L. D., & Watson, N. V., [“Multiple partners are associated with higher testosterone in North American men and women”], “Hormones and Behavior, 51, 454-459, 2007
  50. ^ McCarey, Kevin (writer) (1999). Dolphins: The wild side(Documentary). USA: National Geographic Adventure. Retrieved 2007-04-24. “Like humans and some chimpanzees, dolphins use sex for reasons other than procreation. Sex is as frequent as it is casual, a social tool used to strengthen and maintain bonds.”Dolphins: The wild side’at theInternet Movie Database
  51. ^ Carey, Bjorn Painful realities of Hyena sexhttp://www.livescience.com/animals/060426_hyena_cubs.html
  52. ^ Miller, Geoffrey A Review of Sexual Selection and Human Evolutionhttp://cas.bellarmine.edu/tietjen/Human%20Nature%20S%201999/SexualSelection/sex%5B1%5D.pdf
  53. ^ Harpending, Henry “Human Diversity and its History” (Bibliographic Guide to East Asian Studies, by Gale Group, Gale Group, 2001, ISBN 0-7838-9219-5,ISBN 978-0-7838-9219-1)
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Physical attractiveness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Venus de Milo at the Louvrehas been described as a “classical vision of beauty”.[1][2][3] However, one expert claimed her “almost matronly” “representation” was meant to convey an “impressive appearance” rather than “ideal female beauty”.[4]
Adonis restored and completed by François Duquesnoy, formerly in the collection of Cardinal Mazarin (Louvre Museum).

Physical attractiveness refers to the degree to which a person’s physical traits are regarded asaesthetically pleasing or beautiful. The term often implies sexual attractiveness or desirability, but can also be distinct from the two; for example, humans may regard the young as attractive for various reasons, but without sexual attraction. There are many factors which influence one person’s attraction to another, with physical aspects being one of them. In many cases, humans attribute positive characteristics, such as intelligence and honesty, to physically attractive people without consciously realizing it.[5] From research done in the United States and United Kingdom, it was found that the association between intelligence and physical attractiveness is stronger among men than among women. [6]

Physical attractiveness is a characteristic that suggests fertility (in females), power (in males) and health (in both sexes).[7] These factors contribute to the probability of survival and reproduction for continuing life on Earth.[7] Men, on average, tend to be attracted to women who are shorter than they are, have a youthful appearance, and exhibit features such as a symmetrical face,[8] full breasts, full lips, and a low waist-hip ratio.[9] Women, on average, tend to be attracted to men who are taller than they are, display a high-degree of facial symmetry, masculine facial dimorphism, and who have broad shoulders, a relatively narrow waist, and V-shaped torso.[10][11]


General contributing factors

Generally, physical attraction can be studied from a number of perspectives, including universal perceptions common to all human cultures, cultural and social aspects, and individual subjective preferences. Additionally, the perception of attractiveness can have a significant effect on how people are judged in terms of employment or social opportunities, friendship, sexual behavior, and marriage.[12]

Some physical features are attractive in both men and women, particularly bodily[13] and facial symmetry,[14][15][16][17] although one contrary report suggests that “absolute flawlessness” with perfect symmetry can be “disturbing”.[18] Symmetry may be evolutionarily beneficial as a sign of health because asymmetry “signals past illness or injury”.[19] One study suggested people were able to “gauge beauty at a subliminal level” by seeing only a glimpse of a picture for one-hundredth of a second.[19] Other important factors include youthfulness, skin clarity and smoothness of skin; and “vivid color” in the eyes and hair.[14] However, there are numerous differences based on gender.

Male physical attractiveness

Women, on average, tend to be more attracted to men who have a relatively narrow waist, a V-shaped torso, and broad shoulders, are taller than they are, and display a high-degree of facial symmetry, and relatively feminine facial dimorphism.[10][11] With regard to male-male-attractiveness, one source reports that the most important factor that attracts gay men to other males is the man’s physical attractiveness.[20]

Facial attractiveness

Sexual dimorphism

Studies have shown that ovulating heterosexual women and homosexual men prefer faces with masculine traits associated with increased exposure to testosterone during key developmental stages, such as a broad forehead, relatively longer lower face, prominent chin and brow, chiseled jaw and high cheekbones.[21][22] The degree of differences between male and female anatomical traits is called sexual dimorphism. Female respondents in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle (n = 55) were significantly more likely to choose a masculine face than those in menses and luteal phases (n = 84),[23] (or in those taking hormonal contraception).[10][11][24] It is suggested that the masculinity of facial features is a reliable indication of good health, or, alternatively, that masculine-looking males are more likely to achieve high status.[25] However, the correlation between attractive facial features and health has been questioned.[26] Sociocultural factors, such as self-perceived attractiveness, status in a relationship and degree of gender-conformity, have been reported to play a role in female preferences for male faces.[27] Studies have found that women who perceive themselves as physically attractive are more likely to choose men with masculine facial dimorphism, than are women who perceive themselves as physically unattractive.[28] In men, facial masculinity significantly correlates with facial symmetry—it has been suggested that both are signals of developmental stability and genetic health.[29] One study called into question the importance of facial masculinity in physical attractiveness in men arguing that when perceived health, which is factored into facial masculinity, is discounted it makes little difference in physical attractiveness.[30] In a cross-country study involving 4,794 women in their early twenties, a difference was found in women’s average “masculinity preference” between countries.[31]


Symmetrical faces and bodies may be signs of good inheritance to women of child-bearing age seeking to create healthy offspring. Studies suggest women are less attracted to men with asymmetrical faces,[32] and symmetrical faces correlate with long term mental performance[33] and are an indication that a man has experienced “fewer genetic and environmental disturbances such as diseases, toxins, malnutrition or genetic mutations” while growing.[33] Since achieving symmetry is a difficult task during human growth, requiring literally billions of cell reproductions while maintaining a parallel structure, achieving symmetry is a visible signal of genetic health.

Studies have also suggested that women at peak fertility were more likely to fantasize about men with greater facial symmetry,[34] and other studies have found that male symmetry was the only factor that could significantly predict the likelihood of a woman experiencing orgasm during sex. Women with partners possessing greater symmetry reported significantly more copulatory female orgasms than were reported by women with partners possessing low symmetry, even with many potential confounding variables controlled.[35] This finding has been found to hold across different cultures. It has been argued that masculine facial dimorphism (in men) and symmetry in faces are signals advertising genetic quality in potential mates.[36] Low facial and body fluctuating asymmetry may indicate good health and intelligence, which are desirable features.[37] Studies have found that women who perceive themselves as being more physically attractive are more likely to favor men with a higher degree of facial symmetry, than are women who perceive themselves as being less physically attractive.[28] It has been found that symmetrical men (and women) have a tendency to begin to have sexual intercourse at an earlier age, to have more sexual partners, and to have more one-night stands. They are also more likely to be prone to infidelity.[38] A study of quarterbacks in the National Football League found a positive correlation between facial symmetry and salaries.[15]

Body scent

Main article: body odor

A number of double-blind studies have found that women prefer the scent of men who are rated as facially attractive.[39] For example, a study by Anja Rikowski and Karl Grammer had individuals rate the scent of t-shirts slept in by test subjects. The photographs of those subjects were independently rated, and Rikowski and Grammar found that both males and females were more attracted to the natural scent of individuals who had been rated by consensus as facially attractive.[40]Additionally, it has also been shown that women have a preference for the scent of men with more symmetrical faces, and that women’s preference for the scent of more symmetrical men is strongest during the most fertile period of their menstrual cycle. Within the set of normally cycling women, individual women’s preference for the scent of men with high facial symmetry correlated with their probability of conception.[41]


Studies have explored the genetic basis behind such issues as facial symmetry and body scent and how they influence physical attraction. In one study in which women wore men’s T-shirts, researchers found that women were more attracted to the bodily scents in shirts of men who had a different type of gene section within the DNA called Major histocompatibility complex (MHC).[42] MHC is a large gene area within the DNA of vertebrates which encodes proteins dealing with the immune system[43] and which influences individual bodily odors.[44] One hypothesis is that humans are naturally attracted by the sense of smell and taste to others withdissimilar MHC sections, perhaps to avoid subsequent inbreeding while increasing the genetic diversity of offspring.[43] Further, there are studies showing that women’s natural attraction for men with dissimilar immune profiles can be distorted with use of birth control pills.[44] Other research findings involving the genetic foundations of attraction suggest that MHC heterozygosity positively correlates with male facial attractiveness. Women judge the faces of men who are heterozygous at all three MHC loci to be more attractive than the faces of men who are homozygous at one or more of these loci. Additionally, a second experiment with genotyped women raters, found these preferences were independent of the degree of MHC similarity between the men and the female rater. With MHC heterozygosity independently seen as a genetic advantage, the results suggest that facial attractiveness in men may be a measure of genetic quality.[45][46]


For the Romans especially, “beardlessness” and “smooth young bodies” were considered beautiful to both men and women.[47] For Greek and Roman men, the most desirable traits of boys were their “youth” and “hairlessness”. Pubescent boys were considered a socially appropriate object of male desire, while post-pubescent boys were considered to be “ἔξωροι” or “past the prime”.[47] This was largely in the context of pederastry (adult male interest in adolescent boys). Today, men and women’s attitudes towards male beauty has changed. For example, body hair on men may even be preferred (see below).


A 2010 OkCupid study of 200,000 of its male and female customers found that women users are, except during their early to mid-twenties, open to searches from both somewhat older and somewhat younger men; they have a larger potential dating pool than men until age 26. At age 20 women, in a “dramatic change”, begin sending private messages to significantly older men. Another such change occurs at age 29, accompanied by an end to messages to significantly younger men. Male desirability to women peaks in the late 20s and does not fall below the average for all men until 36.[48]

Waist-to-chest ratio

The mesomorphic physique of a slim waist, broad shoulders and muscular chest are often found to be attractive.[49] When asked to rate other men, both heterosexual and homosexual men found low waist-to-chest ratios (WCR) to be more attractive on other men with the gay men showing a preference for lower WCR (more V-shaped) than the straight men.[50]


Studies based in China, England, the United States, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, Spain, and France have suggested that women consider men more attractive whose erect penis is longer and thicker.[51]

Height and erect posture

Females’ sexual attraction towards males may be determined by the height of the man.[52] Height in men is associated with status or wealth in many cultures (in particular those where malnutrition is common),[53] which is beneficial to women romantically involved with them. One study conducted of women’s personal ads support the existence of this preference; the study found that in ads requesting height in a mate, 80% requested a height of 6.00 feet (1.83 m) or taller.[53] The online dating WebsiteeHarmony only matches women with taller men, because of complaints from women matched with shorter men.[54]

Recent studies have shown that heterosexual women often prefer men taller than they are, rather than a man with above average height. While women usually desire men to be at least the same height as themselves or taller, several other factors also determine male attractiveness, and the male-taller norm is not universal.[55] In certain non-Western cultures, the relative heights of partners have been shown to be irrelevant in their choice of mate, which suggests that Western height preferences may be sociocultural, rather than genetic, in nature.[55] Professor Adam Eyre-Walker, from the University of Sussex, stated that there is, as yet, no evidence that these preferences are evolutionary preferences, as opposed to merely cultural preferences.[56] In a double-blind study by Graziano et al., it was found that, in person, using a sample of women of normal size, they were on average most attracted to men who were of medium height (5’9″- 5’11”) and less attracted to both men of shorter height (5’5″- 5’7″) and men of tallest height (6’2″- 6’4″).[57]

Additionally, women seem more receptive to an erect posture than men, though both prefer it as an element of beauty.[53] According to one study (Yee N., 2002), gay men who identify as “Only Tops” tend to prefer shorter men, while gay men who identify as “Only Bottoms” tend to prefer taller men.[58]


Studies based in the United States, New Zealand, and China have shown that women rate men with no body hair as most attractive, and that attractiveness ratings decline as hirsutism increases.[59][60] Another study, however, found that moderate amounts of trunk hair on men was most attractive, to the sample of British and Sri Lankan women.[61] Further, a degree of hirsuteness (hairiness) and a waist-to-shoulder ratio of 0.6 is often preferred, when combined with a mesomorphic physique.[61]

In a study using Finnish women, women with hairy fathers were more likely to prefer hairy men, suggesting that preference for hairy men is either the result of genetics or imprinting.[62] Among gay men, another study (Yee N., 2002) reported gay males who identify as “Only Tops” prefer less hairy men, while gay males who identify as “Only Bottoms” prefer hairier men.[58]

Skin color

Testosterone has been shown to darken skin color in laboratory experiments.[63] In his foreword to Peter Frost‘s 2005 Fair Women, Dark MenUniversity of Washington sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe writes: “Although virtually all cultures express a marked preference for fair female skin, even those with little or no exposure to European imperialism, and even those whose members are heavily pigmented, many are indifferent to male pigmentation or even prefer men to be darker.”[64]

According to one study (Yee N., 2002), gay men who identify as “Only Tops” tend to prefer lighter-skinned men while gay men who identify as “Only Bottoms” tend to prefer darker-skinned men.[58]

More recent research has suggested that redder and yellower skin tones,[65] reflecting higher levels of oxygenated blood,[66] melanin pigment and net dietary intakes of fruit and vegetables,[67] appears healthier, and therefore more attractive.[68]

Female physical attractiveness

Attractiveness research indicates that men tend to be attracted to young[69] and beautiful women[70] with bodily symmetry.[71] Rather than decreasing it, modernity has only increased the emphasis men place on women’s looks.[72] Evolutionary psychologists attribute such attraction to an evaluation of the fertility potential in a prospective mate.[69]

Facial features

University of Toronto study found that ideal facial proportions of Jessica Alba were close to the average of all female profiles.[73]
See also: Cuteness and Koinophilia

Attractiveness research has attempted to determine which facial aspects communicate attractiveness. Facial symmetry has been shown to be considered attractive in women,[74][75] and men have been found to prefer full lips,[76] a high forehead, small chin, small nose, a shorter, narrow jaw, high cheekbones (definition and projection secondary to the underlying bones of cheek just below and to side of eye socket),[32][77][78][79] clear, smooth skin, and large, clear eyes.[69] The shape of the face in terms of “how everything hangs together” is an important determinant of beauty.[80] A University of Toronto study found correlations between facial measurements and attractiveness; researchers varied the distance between eyes, and between eyes and mouth, in different drawings of the same female face, and had the drawings evaluated; they found there were ideal proportions perceived as attractive (see photo).[73] These proportions (46% and 36%) were close to the average of all female profiles.[73] Women with thick, dark limbal rings in their eyes have also been found to be more attractive. The explanation given is that because the ring tends to fade with age and medical problems, a prominent limbal ring gives an honest indicator of youth.[81]

In another cross-cultural study, more neotenized (i.e., youthful looking) female faces were found to be most attractive to men while less neotenized female faces were found to be less attractive to men, regardless of the females’ actual age.[82] One of these desired traits was a small jaw.[83] In a study of Italian women who have won beauty competitions, it was found that their faces had more “babyness” traits than those of the “normal” women used as a reference.[84]

Michael R. Cunningham of the Department of Psychology at the University of Louisville found, using a panel of “Asian”, “Hispanic” and “White” judges, that the “Asian”, “Hispanic” and “White” female faces found most attractive were those that had “neonate large eyes, greater distance between eyes, and small noses”[85] and his study led him to conclude that “large eyes” were the most “effective” of the “neonate cues”.[85] Cunningham also said that “shiny” hair may be indicative of “neonate vitality”.[85]Using a panel of “Blacks” and “Whites” as judges, Cunningham found more neotenous faces were perceived as having both higher “femininity” and “sociability”.[85] In contrast, Cunningham found that faces that were “low in neoteny” were judged as “intimidating”.[85] Cunningham noted a “difference” in the preferences of “Asian” and “White” judges with “Asian” judges preferring women with “less mature faces” and smaller mouths than the “White” judges.[85] Cunningham hypothesized that this difference in preference may stem from “ethnocentrism” since “Asian faces possess those qualities”, so Cunningham re-analyzed the data with “11 Asian targets excluded” and concluded that “ethnocentrism was not a primary determinant of Asian preferences.”[85] Rather than finding evidence for purely “neonate” faces being most appealing, Cunningham found faces with “sexually-mature” features at the “periphery” of the face combined with “neonate” features in the “center of the face” most appealing in men and women.[85] Upon analyzing the results of his study Cunningham concluded that preference for “neonate features may display the least cross-cultural variability” in terms of “attractiveness ratings”[85] and, in another study, Cunningham concluded that there exists a large agreement on the characteristics of an attractive face.[86][87]

In computer face averaging tests, women with averaged faces have been shown to be considered more attractive.[17][88] This is possibly due to average features being more familiar and, therefore, more comfortable.[74]

Commenting on the prevalence of whiteness in supposed beauty ideals in his book White Lies: Race and the Myth of WhitenessMaurice Berger notes that the schematic rendering in the idealized face of a notable study conducted with American subjects had “straight hair,” “light skin,” “almond-shaped eyes,” “thin, arched eyebrows,” “a long, thin nose, closely set and tiny nostrils” and “a large mouth and thin lips”,[89] though the author of the study noted the consistency between his results and those conducted on other races.

One psychologist speculated there were two opposing principles of female beauty: prettiness and rarity. So on average, symmetrical features are one ideal, while unusual, stand-out features are another.[90] A study performed by the University of Toronto found that the most attractive facial dimensions were those found in the average female face. However, that particular University of Toronto study looked only at white women.[91]


Cross-cultural data shows that the reproductive success of women is tied to their youth and physical attractiveness[92] such as the pre-industrial Sami where the most reproductively successful women were 15 years younger than their man.[93] One study covering 37 cultures showed that, on average, a woman was 2.5 years younger than her male partner, with the age difference in Nigeria and Zambia being at the far extreme of 6.5 to 7.5 years. As men age, they tend to seek a mate who is ever younger.[69] 25% of eHarmony’s male customers over the age of 50 request to only be matched with women younger than 40.[54] A 2010 OkCupid study of 200,000 of its male and female users found that female desirability to men peaks at age 21, and falls below the average for all women at 31. After age 26 men have a larger potential dating pool than women; by 48 their pool is almost twice as large. The median 31 years-old male user searches for women aged 22 to 35, while the median 42 years-old male searches for women 27 to 45. The age skew is even greater with messages to other users; the median 30 years-old male messages teenage girls as often as women his own age, while mostly ignoring women a few years older than him. Excluding the most and least beautiful 10% of women, however, women’s attractiveness does not change between 18 and 40.[48]

The common explanation for this preference is that men have evolved to be attracted to women with high child-bearing potential and therefore prefer young women. In a small (n=148) study performed in the United States using male college students at one university, the mean age expressed as ideal for a wife was found to be 16.87 years old, while 17.76 was the mean ideal age for a brief sexual encounter; however, the study sets up a framework where “taboos against sex with young girls” are purposely diminished, and biased their sample by removing any participant over the age of 30, with a mean participant age of 19.83.[94] In a study of penile tumescence, men were found most aroused by pictures of young adult females.[95]


Research has shown that some men enjoy viewing women’s breasts,[96] and another study showed that men prefer symmetrical breasts,[71][97] but some studies show men preferring large, firm breasts,[98][99] while a contradictory study of British undergraduates found men preferring small breasts on women.[100] Cross-culturally, another study found “high variability” regarding the ideal breast size.[100] Some researchers have speculated that a preference for larger breasts may have developed in Western societies because women with larger breasts tend to have higher levels of the hormones oestradial and progesterone, which both promote fertility.[101]

Breast symmetry may be particularly sensitive to developmental disturbances and the symmetry differences for breasts are large compared to other body parts. Women who have more symmetrical breasts tend to have more children.[102]


Biological anthropologist, Helen B. Fisher of the Center for Human Evolution Studies in the Department of Anthropology of Rutgers University, said that, “perhaps, the fleshy, rounded buttocks… attracted males during rear-entry intercourse.”[103] Bobbi S. Low et al. of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at theUniversity of Michigan, said the female “buttocks evolved in the context of females competing for the attention and parental commitment of powerful resource-controlling males” as an “honest display of fat reserves” that could not be confused with another type of tissue,[104] although T. M. Caro, professor in the Center for Population Biology and the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, at University of California, Davis, rejected that as being a necessary conclusion, stating that female fatty deposits on the hips improve “individual fitness of the female”, regardless of sexual selection.[104]

Fat distribution is also practical. In order to retain agility reserves of fat should be placed as close to the centre of gravity as possible, this is just below the naval. In men it can be placed inside and around the abdomen. Women cannot do this because their abdomens are already occupied by a uterus and possible fetus. So the next available place is on the buttocks and upper thigh. If the fat is kept to reasonable proportions then it doesn’t affect athletic performance (see the “wobbly” bottoms of many Olympic athletes).

Body mass

Betty Grable‘s iconic pin-up girlphoto, popular among GIs fighting in World War II

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an important determinant to the perception of beauty.[105] Even though the Western ideal is for a thin woman, some cultures prefer plumper women,[85][106] which has been argued to support that attraction for a particular BMI merely is a cultural artifact.[106] The attraction for a proportionate body also influences an appeal for erect posture.[100] One cross-cultural survey comparing body-mass preferences among 300 of the most thoroughly studied cultures in the world showed that 81% of cultures preferred a female body size that in English would be described as “plump”.[107]

Availability of food influences which female body size is attractive which may have evolutionary reasons. Societies with food scarcities prefer larger female body size than societies having plenty of food. In Western society males who are hungry prefer a larger female body size than they do when not hungry.[108]

In the United States, women overestimate men’s preferences for thinness in a mate. In one study, American women were asked to choose what their ideal build was and what they thought the build most attractive to men was. Women chose slimmer than average figures for both choices. When American men were independently asked to choose the female build most attractive to them, the men chose figures of average build. This indicates that women may be misled as to how thin men prefer women to be.[106] Some speculate that thinness as a beauty standard is one way in which women judge each other.[90] A reporter surmised that thinness is prized among women as a “sign of independence, strength and achievement.”[90] Some implicated the fashion industry for the promulgation of the notion of thinness as attractive.[109]

Waist–hip ratio

Main article: Waist–hip ratio

Ethnic groups vary with regard to their ideal waist-to-hip ratio for women,[110] ranging from 0.6 in China,[111] to 0.8 or 0.9 in parts of South America and Africa,[112][113][114] and divergent preferences based on ethnicity, rather than nationality, have also been noted.[115][116] A cross-cultural analysis that found isolated peoples preferring high WHR (0.9) over a low WHR (0.7) suggested that many such “cross-cultural” tests “may have only reflected the pervasiveness of Western media”;[117] however many evolutionary psychologists believe preference for low WHR is a signal for fertility and biologically based.[118]


Most men tend to be taller than their female partner.[119] It has been found that, in Western societies, most men prefer shorter women and tend to view taller women as less attractive[120] and people view couples where the woman is taller to be less ideal.[120] Women who are 0.7 to 1.7 standard deviations below the mean female height have been reported to be the most reproductively successful,[121] since fewer tall women get married compared to shorter women.[120] However, there are non-Western cultures in which height is irrelevant in choosing a mate.[55]

Leg-to-body ratio

A study using Polish participants by Sorokowski found 5% longer legs than an individual used as a reference was considered most attractive.[122] The study concluded this preference might stem from the influence of leggy runway models.[123] The Sorokowski study was criticized for using a picture of the same person with digitally altered leg lengths which Dr. Marco Bertamini felt were unrealistic.[124] Another study using British and American participants, found “mid-ranging” leg-to-body ratios to be most ideal.[125]

A study by Swami et al. of British male and female undergraduates showed a preference for men with legs as long as the rest of their body and women with 40% longer legs than the rest of their body.[126] The researcher concluded that this preference might be influenced by American culture where long legged women are portrayed as more attractive.[126] The Swami et al. study was criticized for using a picture of the same person with digitally altered leg lengths which Marco Bertamini felt were unrealistic.[124] Bertamini also criticized the Swami study for only changing the leg length while keeping the arm length constant.[124] Bertamini’s own study which used stick figures mirrored Swami’s study, however, by finding a preference for leggier women.[124]

According to some studies, most men prefer women with small feet,[127][128] such as in ancient China where foot binding was practiced.[129]


Men have been found to prefer long-haired women.[69][130][131] An evolutionary psychology explanation for this is that malnutrition and deficiencies in minerals and vitamins causes loss of hair or hair changes. Hair therefore indicates health and nutrition during the last 2–3 years. Lustrous hair is also often a cross-cultural preference.[132]

One study reported non-Asian men to prefer blondes and Asian men to prefer black-haired women.[131]

Movement patterns

The way an individual moves can indicate health and even age and influence attractiveness.[132]

Skin tone and skin radiance

A preference for lighter-skinned women has remained prevalent over time, even in cultures without European contact, though exceptions have been found.[133]Anthropologist Peter Frost stated that since higher-ranking men were allowed to marry the perceived more attractive women, who tended to have fair skin, the upper classes of a society generally tended to develop a lighter complexion than the lower classes by sexual selection (see also Fisherian runaway).[64][133][134] In contrast, one study on men of the Bikosso tribe in Cameroon found no preference for attractiveness of females based on lighter skin color, bringing into question the universality of earlier studies that had exclusively focused on skin color preferences among non-African populations.[134]

Today, skin bleaching is not uncommon in parts of the world such as Africa,[135] and a preference for lighter-skinned women generally holds true for African Americans,[136] Latin Americans,[137] and Asians.[138] One exception to this has been in contemporary Western culture, where tanned skin used to be associated with the sun-exposed manual labor of the lower-class, but has generally been considered more attractive and healthier since the mid-20th century.[139][140][141][142][143]

More recent work has extended skin color research beyond preferences for lightness, arguing that redder (higher a* in the CIELab colour space) and yellower (higher b*) skin has healthier appearance.[65] These preferences have been attributed to higher levels of red oxygenated blood in the skin, which is associated with aerobic fitness and lack of cardiac and respiratory illnesses,[66] and to higher levels of yellow-red antioxidant carotenoids in the skin, indicative of more fruit and vegetables in the diet and, possibly more efficient immune and reproductive systems.[67]

Research has additionally shown that skin radiance or glowing skin indicates health, thus skin radiance influences perception of beauty and physical attractiveness.[144][145]

Eye color

A study where photographs of several women were manipulated (so that their faces would be shown with either the natural eye color of the model or with the other color) showed that brown-eyed men have no preference regarding eye color, but blue-eyed men prefer women of the same eye color.[146]

Other determinants

There has been research suggesting that women at the “fertile stage” of the menstrual cycle appear more attractive to single unattached men, but it is not clear exactly how this process works.[147]

Possible gender differences for preferences

For both men and women, there appear to be universal criteria of attractiveness both within and across cultures and ethnic groups.[8][148] When considering long term relationships, some studies have concluded that men place a higher emphasis on physical attractiveness in a partner than women do.[149][150][151][152][153] On the other hand, some studies have found little difference between men and women in terms of the weight they place on physical characteristics when they are choosing partners for short-term relationships,[154][155][156][157] in particular with regard to their implicit, as opposed to explicitly articulated, preferences.[158] Other recent studies continue to find sex differences for long-term relationships.[159][160][161][162]

Some evolutionary psychologists, including David Buss, have argued that this long-term relationship difference may be consequence of ancestral humans who selected partners based on secondary sexual characteristics, as well as general indicators of fitness which allowed for greater reproductive success as a result of higher fertility in those partners,[163] although a male’s ability to provide resources for offspring was likely signaled less by physical features.[151] It is argued that the most prominent indicator of fertility in women is youth,[164][165] while the traits in a man which enhance reproductive success are proxies for his ability to accrue resources and protect.[165]

Studies have shown that women pay greater attention to physical traits than they do directly to earning capability or potential to commit,[166] including muscularity, fitness and masculinity of features; the latter preference was observed to vary during a woman’s period, with women preferring more masculine features during the late-follicular (fertile) phase of the menstrual cycle.[167][168] Additionally, women process physical attractiveness differently, paying attention to both individual features and the aesthetic effect of the whole face.[169] A 2003 study in the area concluded that heterosexual women are about equally aroused when viewing men or women. Heterosexual men were only aroused by women. This study verified arousal in the test subjects by connecting them to brain imaging devices.[170][171][172][173] Notably, the same study reported arousal for women upon viewing animals mating.

It has been shown that women prefer men with a more masculine facial dimorphism during the fertile period of the menstrual cycle and men with a more feminine facial dimorphism during other parts of the cycle.[174] This distinction supports the sexy son hypothesis, which posits that it is evolutionarily advantageous for women to select potential fathers who are more genetically attractive,[175] rather than the best caregivers.[176]

According to strategic pluralism theory, men may have correspondingly evolved to pursue reproductive strategies that are contingent on their own physical attractiveness. More physically attractive men accrue reproductive benefits from spending more time seeking multiple mating partners and relatively less time investing in offspring. In contrast, the reproductive effort of physically less attractive men, who therefore will not have the same mating opportunities, is better allocated either to investing heavily in accruing resources, or investing in their mates and offspring and spending relatively less time seeking additional mates.[177]

Facial similarity and racial bias

Several studies have suggested that people are generally attracted to people who look like them[178] and they generally evaluate faces that exhibit features of their own ethnic or racial group as being more attractive.[131] Although both men and women use children’s “facial resemblance” to themselves in “attractiveness judgments,” a greater percentage of women in one study (37% n=30) found hypothetical children whose faces were “self-morphs” of themselves as most attractive when compared to men (30% n=23).[179] However, one report in The Guardian suggested there was a “Caucasian beauty standard” spreading worldwide because of the proliferation of the Western entertainment industry.[8]

The more similar a judged person is toward the judging person, the more the former is liked. However, this effect can be reversed. This might depend on how attractiveness is conceptualized: similar members (compared to dissimilar ones) of the opposite sex are judged as more likable in a prosocial sense. Again, findings are more ambiguous when looking for the desiring, pleasure related component of attractiveness.[180] This might be influenced by the measure one uses (subjective ratings can differ from the way one actually reacts) and by situational factors: while men usually prefer women whose face resembles their own, this effect can reverse under stress, when dissimilar females are preferred.[181]

Social effects

Perceptions of physical attractiveness contribute to generalized assumptions based on those attractions. Individuals assume that when someone is beautiful, they have many other positive attributes that make the attractive person more likeable.[7] This is also called the beautiful is good effect.[7] Across cultures, what is beautiful is assumed to be good; attractive people are assumed to be more extroverted, popular, and happy. This could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, as from a young age, attractive people receive more attention that helps them develop these characteristics.[182][183] In one study, beautiful people were found to be generally happier than less beautiful or plain people, perhaps because these outgoing personality traits are linked to happiness, or perhaps because beauty led to increased economic benefits which partially explained the increased happiness.[80] In another study testing first impressions in 56 female and 17 male participants at University of British Columbia, personality traits of physically attractive people were identified more positively and more accurately than those who were less physically attractive. It was explained that people pay closer attention to those they find physically beautiful or attractive, and thus perceiving attractive individuals with greater distinctive accuracy. The study believes this accuracy to be subjective to the eye of the beholder. [184]

However, attractiveness varies by society; in ancient China, a small foot was considered attractive, so foot binding was practiced by confining young girls’ feet in tightly bound shoes to prevent the feet from growing to normal size.[185] In England, women used to wear corsets that severely constricted their breathing and damaged vital internal organs, in order to achieve a visual effect of an exaggeratedly low Waist-to-Hip ratio.

People make judgments of physical attractiveness based on what they see, but also on what they know about the person. Specifically, perceptions of beauty are malleable such that information about the person’s personality traits can influence one’s assessment of another person’s physical beauty. A 2007 study had participants first rate pictures for attractiveness. After doing distracting math problems, participants saw the pictures again, but with information about the person’s personality. When participants learned that a person had positive personality characteristics (e.g., smart, funny, kind), that person was seen as more physically attractive.[186] Conversely, a person with negative personality characteristics (e.g., materialistic, rude, untrustworthy) was seen as less physically attractive. This was true for both females and males.

Physical attractiveness can have various effects. A survey conducted by London Guildhall University of 11,000 people showed that those who subjectively describe themselves as physically attractive earn more income than others who would describe themselves as less attractive.[187] People who described themselves as less attractive earned, on average, 13% less than those who described themselves as more attractive, while the penalty for being overweight was around 5%. According to further research done on the correlation between looks and earnings in men, the punishment for unattractiveness is greater than the benefits of being attractive. However, in women the punishment is found to be equal to the benefits.[188] It is important to note that other factors such as self-confidence may explain or influence these findings as they are based on self-reported attractiveness as opposed to any sort of objective criteria; however, as one’s self-confidence and self-esteem are largely learned from how one is regarded by his/her peers while maturing, even these considerations would suggest a significant role for physical appearance. One writer speculated that “the distress created in women by the spread of unattainable ideals of female beauty” might possibly be linked to increasing incidence of depression.[189]

Many have asserted that certain advantages tend to come to those who are perceived as being more attractive, including the ability to get better jobs and promotions; receiving better treatment from authorities and the legal system; having more choices in romantic partners and, therefore, more power in relationships; and marrying into families with more money.[16][80][182][183][190] Those who are attractive are treated and judged more positively than those who are considered unattractive, even by those who know them. Also, attractive individuals behave more positively than those who are unattractive.[191] One study found that teachers tend to expect that children who are attractive are more intelligent, and are more likely to progress further in school. They also consider these students to be more popular.[192] Voters choose political candidates who are more attractive over those who are less attractive.[193] Men and women use physical attractiveness as a measure of how “good” another person is. [194] In 1946, Soloman Asch coined the Implicit Personality Theory, meaning that the presence of one trait tends to imply the existence of other traits. This is also known as the halo effect. Research suggests that those who are physically attractive are thought to have more socially desirable personalities and lead better lives in general.[195] This is also known as the “what-is-beautiful-is-good effect.” Discrimination against or prejudice towards others based on their appearance is sometimes referred to as lookism.

Some researchers conclude that little difference exists between men and women in terms of sexual behavior.[196][197] Symmetrical men and women have a tendency to begin to have sexual intercourse at an earlier age, to have more sexual partners, to engage in a wider variety of sexual activities, and to have more one-night stands. They are also prone to infidelity and are more likely to have open relationships.[38] Additionally, they have the most reproductive success. Therefore, their physical characteristics are most likely to be inherited by future generations.[198][199][200][201]

Concern for improving physical attractiveness has led many persons to consider alternatives such as cosmetic surgery. It has led scientists working with related disciplines such as computer imaging and mathematics to conduct research to suggest ways to surgically alter a face in terms of distances between facial features, to make it closer to an ideal face with “agreed-upon standards of attractiveness”, by using algorithms to suggest an alternative which still resembles the current face.[14] One research study found that cosmetic surgery as a way to “boost earnings” was “not profitable in a monetary sense.”[80] Perhaps people try to look more beautiful because they think it would make them happier. However, research shows that physical attractiveness seems to only have a marginal effect on happiness.[202] If beautiful people are slightly happier though, it is not clear whether this is caused by physical attractiveness, or if happy people simply take better care of their appearance.

See also


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
URL chatroulette.com
Slogan Welcome to the world of Chatroulette!
Type of site Online chatvoice chatvideo chat
Owner Andrey Ternovsky
Created by Andrey Ternovsky
Launched November 2009
Alexarank positive decrease 3,602 (August 2012)[1]
Revenue Advertising

Chatroulette is an online chat website that pairs strangers from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. Visitors to the website begin an online chat (text, audio, and video) with another visitor who is chosen at random. At any point, either user may leave the current chat by initiating another random connection.[citation needed]



The Chatroulette web site was created by Andrey Ternovsky, a 17-year-old high school student in Moscow, Russia.[2] Ternovsky says the concept arose from video chats he used to have with friends on Skype, and that he wrote the first version of Chatroulette in “two days and two nights”.[3] Ternovsky chose the name “Chatroulette” after watching The Deer Hunter, a 1978 film set in the Vietnam War in which prisoners of war are forced to play Russian roulette.[4]

In early November 2009, shortly after the site launched, it had 500 visitors per day.[3] One month later there were 50,000.[3] The site has been featured in The New York Times[2] The New Yorker,[5] New York magazine,[6] and on Good Morning America,[7] Newsnight in the United Kingdom,[8] Tosh.0,[9] and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.[10] In February 2010, there were about 35,000 people on Chatroulette at any given time.[11] Around the beginning of March, Ternovsky estimated the site to have around 1.5 million users, approximately 33% of them from the United States and 5% from Germany.[3]

An early growth phase was funded by a $10,000 investment from Ternovsky’s parents which he soon paid back.[3] As of March 2010, Ternovsky was running the site from his childhood bedroom, assisted by four programmers who were working remotely, and the site was supported through advertising links to an online dating service.[3]

According to one informal study published in March 2010, nearly half of all Chatroulette spins connected a user with someone in the USA, while the next most likely country was France with 15%. On average in sessions showing a single person, 89% of these were male and 11% were female. 8% of spins showed multiple people behind the camera. 1 in 3 females appeared as such a group. That number is 1 in 12 for males. A user was more likely to encounter a webcam featuring no person at all than one featuring a sole female. 1 in 8 spins yielded possibly objectionable content. A user was twice as likely to encounter a sign requesting female nudity than to encounter actual female nudity.[12]

The website uses Adobe Flash to display video and access the user’s webcam. Flash’s peer-to-peer network capabilities (via RTMFP) allow almost all video and audio streams to travel directly between user computers, without using server bandwidth. However, certain combinations of routers will not allow UDP traffic to flow between them, and then it is necessary to fall back to RTMP.[13]


Inappropriate content

Alert message shown after the user has been reported 3 times.

According to a survey carried out by RJMetrics, approximately 1 in 8 of feeds from Chatroulette involved ‘R-rated’ content.[12] Parody shows such as The Daily Show and South Park have lampooned this aspect of the service and nudity has become an established part of the site’s notoriety.[14]

In response, the website has encouraged users to be at least 18 years old, and prohibits “pornographic” behavior. Users who experience harassment or witness illegal, immoral, or pornographic activity may report the offending user. After three users have complained about the same participant within 5 minutes the user is temporarily banned from the service.[3]

In August 2012, Chatroulette removed the Safe Mode feature of the website, and posted new terms and conditions, stating that nudity was no longer allowed on any part of the site.[15] Although inactive, parts of the website still contained references to the Safe Mode. Soon after disabling Safe Mode features, Chatroulette changed their terms of use again, making it a requirement that all users sign up to use the service[citation needed], although once signed in, a user could sign out and still use the service. Additionally, the banning system still seems to be referencing to the user IP address instead of the user account. Users banned for no reason are not only unable to use the service, but also unable to report their experience with the website.

Privacy violation

Chatroulette automatically flags users broadcasting sexual content by using image recognition algorithms. While the video streams are transmitted in a peer-to-peer manner, without passing through the site’s server, Chatroulette does periodically take screenshots of the users’ video content, violating their privacy. Humans then check the screenshots flagged by the algorithms and proceed to block the offending users for a period of time.[16][17]

See also


  1. ^ “Chatroulette.com Site Info”Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  2. a b Stone, Brad (2010-02-13). “Chatroulette’s Creator, 17, Introduces Himself – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com”. Bits.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
  3. a b c d e f g Yevgeny Kondakov and Benjamin Bidder: 17-Year-Old Chatroulette Founder: ‘Mom, Dad, the Site Is Expanding’Interview with Andrey Ternovsky, Der Spiegel, 5 March 2010
  4. ^ Nick Bilton: One on One: Andrey Ternovsky, Creator of Chatroulette(interview) Bits Blog, The New York Times online, March 12, 2010
  5. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/05/17/100517fa_fact_ioffe?currentPage=all>
  6. ^ Anderson, Sam (2010-02-05). “Is ChatRoulette the Future of the Internet or Its Distant Past? – New York Magazine”. Nymag.com. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
  7. ^ “Chatroulette: Talking to Strangers on Internet – ABC News”. Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
  8. ^ “Newsnight: From the web team: Tuesday 9 March 2010”. BBC. 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  9. ^ “Chat Roulette | Tosh.0”. Comedy Central. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  10. ^ “Tech-Talch – Jon encounters several reporters and naked masturbating men as he explores Chatroulette”. http://www.thedailyshow.com/. Retrieved 2010-03-05.
  11. ^ John D. Sutter, CNN (2010-02-24). “Chatroulette offers random webcam titillation – CNN.com”. Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
  12. a b Moore, Robert J. (2010-03-16). “Chatroulette Is 89 Percent Male, 47 Percent American, And 13 Percent Perverts”.TechCrunch. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  13. ^ “Stratus Discussion Group”. 2010-04-08. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  14. ^ South Park Takes on Tron, Facebook, and Chat Roulettefrom MovieViral.com
  15. ^ Chatroulette Deletes Safe Modefrom roulettechatsites.com
  16. ^ Xing, Xinyu et al (January 2011). “SafeVchat: Detecting Obscene Content and Misbehaving Users in Online Video Chat Services”. Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado at Boulder. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  17. ^ Peja Bulatovic (January 20, 2011). “Nudity filter helps Chatroulette clean up”. CBC News. Retrieved 2012-08-16.

External links

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OmegleFrom Wiki…


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
URL Omegle.com
Slogan Talk to strangers!
Type of site Online chatvoice chatvideo chat
Availablelanguage(s) all
Created by Leif K-Brooks
Launched March 25, 2009
Alexa rank 3,500 (August 2012)[1]

Omegle is a free, online chat website that allows users to communicate with strangers without registering. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the handles “You” and “Stranger”. The site was created by 18-year-old Leif K-Brooks of Brattleboro, Vermont, and was launched on March 25, 2009.[2][3] The name “Omegle” is an combination of the words omega and mingle. The blue part of the logo contains an omega (Ω) turned diagonally. On March 14, 2010, Omegle introduced a video conferencingfeature in addition to text chatting. Less than a month after its March 2009 launch, Omegle garnered around 150,000 page views a day.[4] The use of the mandatory chatnames “You” and “Stranger”, the “Talk to Strangers!” slogan of the site, and prompts such as “Your conversational partner has disconnected” at the end of a chat appeared to fuel the popularity of the site.[5]

The kind of chat that Omegle popularized is called anonymous chat, stranger chat, or 1-on-1 chat. Comparisons have been made to early-1990s AOL.[6] The site now provides an Omegle mobile application that lets users chat with strangers from an Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Palm webOS device.[7]



Omegle includes a “Spy Mode”, which connects three strangers. One stranger asks a thought-provoking question for the other two to answer or discuss with one another. The stranger who asks the question, however, cannot participate in the discussion; they play the part of a third-party observer. Spy Mode is still in beta, which leads users to believe there may be some adjustments made to it.[citation needed]

Omegle formerly allowed its visitors to use Facebook Connect in order to meet strangers with common interests. The feature accomplished this by observing which pages the users had “liked” on Facebook, although if the search for similar interests times out, the user would instead be paired randomly. However, as of June 2012, the Facebook Connect feature does not function. While the site still lists the option to use Facebook likes, users are only connected to random strangers. Omegle has yet to acknowledge the lack of functionality and continues to claim to offer Facebook Connect as a feature.

The site uses anti-spam software, known as reCAPTCHA, which periodically challenges users in order to prevent spam messages being sent by automated bots.[citation needed]


Omegle contains a disclaimer that asks that no one under age 13 use Omegle and no one under 18 use it without parents’ permission, although it has no way of enforcing this because Omegle is anonymous. The site does not censor contributions through a profanity filter, and a user may encounter nudity or sexual content on camera.[8] K-Brooks has acknowledged the questionable content of the site, at one time expressing “disappointment” at the way in which the site has been used.[8]

See also


  1. ^ “Omegle.com Site Info”Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  2. ^ Brooks, Leif (March 30, 2009). “Welcome to the Omegle blog!”.
  3. ^ “Omegle chat program can help you find love anonymously”. April 14th, 2009.
  4. ^ Quenqua, Douglas (April 26, 2009). “Tired of Old Web Friends? A New Site Promises Strangers”. The New York Times.
  5. ^ Thomas, Owen (March 31 2009). “Omegle! This Teenager Wants You to Chat with a Stranger”Gawker.
  6. ^ O’Brien, Terrence (2009-04-02). “Omegle.com Lets You Anonymously Mess With Complete Strangers”. Switched.com. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  7. ^ “Anonymity taken to the next level – Omegle”. Articlesbase.com. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  8. a b “Chatroulette and Omegle: chat rooms with a twist”. BBC News. 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2010-06-06.

External links

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Human sexuality…

Human sexuality

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Human sexuality is the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses.[1] Human sexuality can also refer to the way someone is sexually attracted to another person, whether it is to the opposite sex (heterosexuality), to the same sex (homosexuality), having both these tendencies (bisexuality), or not being attracted to anyone in a sexual manner (asexuality).[2] Human sexuality impacts cultural, political, legal, and philosophical aspects of life. It can refer to issues of morality, ethics, theology,spirituality, or religion. It is not, however, directly tied to gender. Some cultures have been described as sexually repressive.

Interest in sexual activity typically increases when an individual reaches puberty.[3] Some researchers assume that sexual behavior is determined by genetics, and others assert that it is molded by the environment.[4] This is the nature versus nurture debate, in which one can define nature as those behavioral traits that are due to innate characteristics, such as instincts and drives. The concept of nurture can be defined as the environmental factors or external stimuli that influence behavior, emotions, and thinking.[5] Biological and physical differences include the human sexual response cycle among men and women.[6]

Theories that deal with sexuality, such as that of Sigmund Freud, are important in understanding sexuality. Evolutionary perspectives on human coupling and/or reproduction, including the sexual strategies theory, provide another perspective on sexuality,[7] as does social learning theory.[8] Socio-cultural aspects of sexuality include historical developments and religious beliefs, including Jewish views on sexual pleasure within the marriage and Christian views on avoidance of sexual pleasures.[6] The study of sexuality also includes human identity within social groups, sexually transmitted diseases, and infections (STDs and STIs) and birth controlmethods.


Nature-versus-nurture debate

Main article: Nature versus nurture

Certain characteristics are believed to be innate in humans, although they may be modified by interactions with the physical and social environment.[9] Human sexuality is driven by genetics and mental activity. Normative characteristics, as well as social, cultural, educational, and environmental characteristics of an individual also moderate the sexual drive.[10] The sexual drive affects the development of personal identity[10] and many social activities.[11] There are two well-known theorists who formed the opposing positions in the nature versus nurture debate. Sigmund Freud, a firm supporter of the nature argument, believed that sexual drives are instinctive and viewed sexuality as the central source of human personality. John Locke, on the other hand, believed in the nurture argument, using his theory of the mind being seen as a “tabula rasa” or blank slate, the environment in which one develops drives their sexuality.[12]

Thomas Aquinas

Medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas held sexuality in accordance with virtues such as temperance and charity not to be evil in itself: “If we suppose the corporeal nature to be created by the good God we cannot hold that those things which pertain to the preservation of the corporeal nature and to which nature inclines, are altogether evil; wherefore, since the inclination to beget an offspring whereby the specific nature is preserved is from nature, it is impossible to maintain that the act of begetting children is altogether unlawful, so that it be impossible to find the mean of virtue therein; unless we suppose, as some are mad enough to assert, that corruptible things were created by an evil god, whence perhaps the opinion mentioned in the text is derived (Sent. iv, D, 26); wherefore this is a most wicked heresy.”[13]

The virtue of temperance tempers excess in acts and habits according to Aristotle and Aquinas’s virtue ethics, where the aim is not necessarily total abstinence (although Aquinas holds this as easier to achieve), but a perfect mean according to good (i.e. such things as virtue, reason, natural lawDivine Law, and intelligence). Hence, chastity[14] and the habit of virginity, defined as “the continual meditation on incorruption in a corruptible flesh” are the parts of the virtue temperance related to sexuality,[15] and are opposed by excess by lust. Aquinas argues that a reasoned use of sexuality should be according to its end, which is human procreation, again in accordance with charity and other virtues, i.e. “true good”:

“A sin, in human acts, is that which is against the order of reason. Now the order of reason consists in its ordering everything to its end in a fitting manner. Wherefore it is no sin if one, by the dictate of reason, makes use of certain things in a fitting manner and order for the end to which they are adapted, provided this end be something truly good. Now just as the preservation of the bodily nature of one individual is a true good, so, too, is the preservation of the nature of the human species a very great good. And just as the use of food is directed to the preservation of life in the individual, so is the use of venereal acts directed to the preservation of the whole human race. Hence Augustine says (De Bono Conjug. xvi): “What food is to a man’s well being, such is sexual intercourse to the welfare of the whole human race.” Wherefore just as the use of food can be without sin, if it be taken in due manner and order, as required for the welfare of the body, so also the use of venereal acts can be without sin, provided they be performed in due manner and order, in keeping with the end of human procreation.”

Aquinas reckons lust to be a “mortal sin” and a “capital vice.” The daughters, or consequences, of lust are described as “blindness of mind, thoughtlessness, inconstancy, rashness, self-love, hatred of God, love of this world and abhorrence or despair of a future world.”[16] Moreover, as with any “mortal sin,” Aquinas reckons that lust destroys the charity, and consequently also the happiness, in humans.[17]

Sigmund Freud

Freud’s theory assumed that behavior was rooted in biology. He proposed that instincts are the principal motivating forces in the mental realm, and held that there are a large number of instincts but that they are reduced into two broad groups; Eros (the life instinct), which covers all the self-preserving and erotic instincts, and Thanatos(the death instinct), which covers instincts toward aggression, self-destruction, and cruelty.[18] Freud gave sexual drives a centrality in human life, actions, and behaviors that had not been accepted before his proposal. His instinct theory suggested that humans are driven from birth by the desire to acquire and enhance bodily pleasures, thus supporting the nature debate. Freud successfully redefined the term “sexuality” to make it cover any form of pleasure that can be derived from the human body,[18]raised the notion that the pre-genital zones are primitive areas of preliminary enjoyment preceding sexual intercourse and orgasm.[19] He reasoned that pleasure lowers tension, while displeasure raises it, influencing the sexual drive in humans. His developmentalist perspective was governed by inner forces, especially biological drives and maturation, and his view that humans are biologically inclined to seek sexual gratification demonstrates the nature side of the debate.[12]

John Locke

British philosopher John Locke rejected the assumption that there are innate differences among people, and argued that people are shaped strongly by their social environments, especially by education.[12] He believed that it would be accurate to view a child’s mind as a tabula rasa or blank slate; whatever goes into the mind will come from the surrounding environment.[12] As the person develops, they discover their identity. Locke proposed to follow a child from its birth and observe the changes that time makes, saying that one will find that as the mind, through sensory information, becomes furnished with ideas, it becomes more awake and aware. He said that after some time, the child’s mind begins to know the objects which are most familiar. As the child’s brain develops, he or she begins to know the people and social surroundings of daily life and can then distinguish the known from the unknown. This view supports the nurture side of the debate.[20] Locke believed that there are no natural obstructions that would block the development of children’s inherent potential for acting freely and rationally and that everyone is born to become independent beings and benefit from the environment.[21]

Human sexual behavior is different than the sexual behavior of most other animal species, in that it seems to be affected by several factors. For example, while most non-human species are driven to partake in sexual behavior when reproduction is possible, humans are not sexually active just for the sake of reproduction.[22] The environment, culture, and social setting play major roles in the perception, attitudes, and behaviors of sexuality. Sexual behavior is also affected by the inability to detect sexual stimuli, incorrect labeling, or misattribution. This may in turn impede an individual’s sexual performance.[23]

Evolutionary aspects

Sex in private distinguishes humans from bonoboschimpanzees, and gorillas. Testis and penis size are related to family structure: monogamy or promiscuityharem, inhumanchimpanzee, and gorilla, respectively (see The Third Chimpanzee and “Why is Sex Fun?” by Jared Diamond). Involvement of the father in education, concealed ovulation, and menopause in women, are quite unique to our species, at least when compared to other hominins. Concealed (or “hidden”) ovulation means that the phase of fertility is not detectable in humans, whereas chimpanzees advertise ovulation by an obvious swelling of the genitals. Women can be partly aware of their ovulation, along the menstrual phases, but men are essentially unable to detect ovulation in women. Most primates have semi-concealed ovulation; thus, one can think that the common ancestor had semi-concealed ovulation, that he transmitted to gorillas, but that later evolved into concealed ovulation in humans and advertised ovulation in chimpanzee (see “Why is Sex Fun?“).

Biological and physiological aspects

The biological aspects of humans’ sexuality deal with human reproduction and the physical means with which to carry it out (sexual intercourse). They also deal with the influence of biological factors on other aspects of sexuality, such as organic and neurological responses,[24] heredity, hormonal issues, gender issues, and sexual dysfunction.[25]

Physical anatomy and reproduction

Men and women are anatomically similar except when it comes to the reproductive system and genitalia. Both men and women have different physical mechanisms that enable them to perform sexual acts and procreate. Both men and women react to sexual stimuli in somewhat of the same fashion with only minor differences. Women have a monthly reproductive cycle and the male sperm production cycle is more continuous.[6]


The brain is the structure that translates nerve impulses from the skin into pleasurable sensations. It controls nerves and muscles used during sexual behavior. The brain regulates the release of hormones. It is believed the physical origin of our sexual desires. The cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain, allows for thinking and reasoning. It is also the believed physical origin of sexual thoughts and fantasies. Beneath the cortex is the limbic system, which consists of the amygdala,hippocampuscingulate gyrus, and septal area. These structures are where emotions and feelings are believed to originate from and are important for sexual behavior. The hypothalamus is the most important part of the brain for sexual functioning. This is the small area at the base of the brain consisting of several groups of nerve cell bodies that receives input from the limbic system. Studies have shown that within lab animals, destruction of certain areas of the hypothalamus causes complete elimination of sexual behavior. One of the reasons for the importance of the hypothalamus is its relation to the pituitary gland which lies right beneath it. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that are produced in the hypothalamus and itself. The four important sexual hormones that are secreted are oxytocinprolactinfollicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone.[6] Oxytocin is also known as the “Hormone of Love.” Oxytocin is released in both men and women during sexual intercourse when an orgasm is established. It is believed that oxytocin is involved with maintaining close relationships. The hormone is also released in women when they give birth or are breastfeeding.[26] Both prolactic and oxytocin stimulate milk production in women. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS) is responsible for ovulation in women by triggering egg maturity and in men it stimulates sperm production. Luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers ovulation which is the release of a mature egg.[6]

Female anatomy and reproductive system

Women have both external (genitalia) and internal reproductive organs. For the women, their genitalia can be collectively known as the vulva. The vulva includes themons venerislabia majoralabia minoraclitorisvaginal opening, and urethral opening. Women’s genitalia vary in appearance from person to person, differing in size, shape, and color. A woman’s feelings towards her genitalia are directly related to her participation and enjoyment of anything sexual.

External anatomy
External female genitals

The mons veneris is also known as the “Mount of Venus.” This area is the soft layer of fatty tissue overlaying the area where the pubic bone comes together. Following puberty, this area grows in size. It is sensitive to stimulation due to many nerve endings gathering in this area.[6]

The labia (minora and majora) are collectively known as the lips. The labia majora are two elongated folds of skin extending from the mons to the perineum in women. Its outer surface becomes covered with hair after puberty. Labia majora would also be known as the outer lips. In between the labia majora are the labia minora. These two hairless folds of skin meet above the clitoris to form the clitoral hood, which is highly sensitive to touch. The labia minora become engorged with blood during sexual stimulation, causing them to swell and turn bright red or wine colored.[6] Near the anus, the labia minora merge with the labia majora. The labia minora are composed of connective tissues that are richly supplied with blood vessels which cause the pinkish appearance.[27] The purpose of the labia minora is to protect the vaginal and urethral opening by covering them in a sexually unstimulated state. Located at the base of the labia minora are the Bartholin’s glands which contribute a few drops of an alkaline fluid to the vagina via ducts which helps to counteract acidity of the outer vagina since sperm cannot live in an acidic environment.[6]

The clitoris is developed from the same embryonic tissue as the penis, but with its tip or glans alone harboring more nerve endings than the penis or any other part of the human body, making the clitoris extremely sensitive to touch.[28][29][30]This small, elongated erectile structure has only one known function—focus sexual sensations. The clitoris is also the main source of orgasm in women.[31][32][33][34] The thick secretions that collect here in the clitoris are called smegma.[6]

The vaginal opening and the urethral opening are only visible when the labia minora are parted. This opening has many nerve endings that make it sensitive to touch. It is surrounded by the bulbocavernosus muscle which is a ring of sphincter muscles that contract and relax. Underneath this muscle and on opposite sides of the vaginal opening are the vestibular bulbs which help the vagina grip the penis by swelling with blood during arousal. Within the vaginal opening, there is something called thehymen which is a thin membrane that partially covers the opening in many virgins. To rupture the hymen is considered to be losing one’s virginity. The urethral opening expels urine from the bladder. This is located below the clitoris and above the vaginal opening. This opening connects to the bladder with the urethra.[6]

The last part of the external organs used for sexual pleasure are the breasts. Western culture is one of the few that find breasts to be erotic.[6] The breasts are the subcutaneous tissues on the front thorax of the female body.[27] Their purpose is to provide milk to a developing infant. They develop during puberty due to an increase in estrogen, and each adult breast consists of 15 to 20 mammary glands, which are milk producing glands. It is the more fatty tissue one has that determines the size of breasts, and heredity plays a huge role in determining size.[6] “A mammary gland is composed of fifteen to twenty irregularly shaped lobes, each of which includes alveolar glands, and a duct (lactiferous duct) that leads to the nipple and opens to the outside. The lobes are separated by dense connective tissues that support the glands and attach them to the tissues on the underlying pectoral muscles. Other connective tissue, which forms dense strands called “suspensory ligaments,” extends inward from the skin of the breast to the pectoral tissue to support the weight of the breast. The breasts are really modified sweat glands, which are made up of fibrous tissues and fat that provide support and contain nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels.[27]

Internal anatomy
The female reproductive system

The female’s internal reproductive organs consist of the vaginauterusFallopian tubes, and ovaries. The vagina is the sheath-like canal in women that extends from the vulva to the cervix. The vagina receives the penis during intercourse and serves as a depository for sperm. This is also known as the birth canal and can expand to 10 centimeters during labor and delivery. The vagina is located behind the bladder but in front of the rectum. The vagina is normally collapsed, but during sexual arousal it opens, lengthens, and produces lubrication, which allows the penis to be inserted. The vagina has three layered walls, and is a self cleaning organ with natural important bacterium within it to keep the production of yeast down.[6] The G-Spot, named after the German doctor who first reported it in 1950, may be located in the front wall of the vagina and may cause orgasms. This area can vary in size and location from woman to woman, or be non-existent in some women, and various researchers dispute its structure and existence.[6][35][36]

The uterus is also known as the womb; a hollow, muscular organ where a fertilized egg, called a zygote, will implant itself and grow into a fetus.[6] The uterus lies in the pelvic cavity behind the bladder, in front of the bowel, and above the vagina. Normally, it is positioned in a ninety-degree angle tilting forward, although in about twenty percent of women it tilts backwards.[27]The uterus consists of three layers with the innermost layer being the endometrium. The endometrium is where the egg is implanted. During ovulation, this thickens up for implantation, but if implantation does not occur, it is sloughed off during menstruation. The cervix is the narrow end of the uterus. The broad part of the uterus is the fundus.[6]

The Fallopian tubes are the passageways that an egg travels down to the uterus during ovulation. These extend about four inches from both sides of the uterus. There are finger like projections at the end of the tubes that brush the ovaries and pick up the egg once it is released. The egg then travels for about three to four days down to the uterus.[6] “After sexual intercourse, sperm swim up this funnel from the uterus. The lining of the tube and its secretions sustain both the egg and the sperm, encouraging fertilization and nourishing the egg until it reaches the uterus. If an egg splits in two after fertilization, identical twins are produced. If separate eggs are fertilized by different sperm, the mother gives birth to non-identical or fraternal twins.”[27]

The ovaries are the female gonads, and they are developed from the same embryonic tissue as the male gonads (testicles). These are suspended by ligaments and are the source where the egg or ova are stored and developed before ovulation. The ovaries are also responsible for producing female hormones: progesterone andestrogen. Within the ovaries, each egg is surrounded by other cells and contained within a capsule called a primary follicle. At puberty, one or more of these follicles are stimulated to mature on a monthly basis. Once matured these are now called Graafian follicles.[6] “The female, unlike the male, does not manufacture the sex cells. A girl baby is born with about 60,000 of these cells.” Only about 400 eggs in a women’s lifetime will mature.[27]

A female’s ovulation is based on a monthly cycle with the fourteenth day being the most fertile. Days five through thirteen are known as the Preovulatory stages. During this stage, the pituitary gland in the brain secretes Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Then a negative feedback loop is enacted when estrogen is secreted to inhibit the release of FSH. This estrogen thickens the endometrium of the uterus. Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surge triggers ovulation. Day fourteen, ovulation, the LH surge causes a Graafian follicle to surface the ovary. Once the follicle ruptures, the ripe ovum is expelled into the abdominal cavity where the fallopian tubes pick up the ovum with thefimbria. The cervical mucus changes to aid in the movement of sperm. Days fifteen to twenty-eight, the Post-ovulatory stage, the Graafian follicle that once held the ovum is now called the corpus luteum, and it now secretes estrogen. Progesterone increases inhibiting LH release. The endometrium thickens to get ready for implantation, and the ovum travels down the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. If the egg does not become fertilized and does not implant menstruation begins. Days one to four, menstruation, estrogen and progesterone decreases and the endometrium starts thinning. Now the endometrium is sloughed off for the next three to six days. Once menstruation ends the cycle begins again with an FSH surge from the pituitary gland.[6]

Male anatomy and reproductive system

Men also have both internal and external (genitalia) structures that are responsible for procreation and sexual intercourse. Men produce their sperm on a cycle, but unlike the female’s ovulation cycle, the male sperm production cycle is constantly producing millions of sperm daily.[6]

External anatomy

The male genitalia are the penis (which has both internal and external structures) and the scrotum (holds the testicles). The penis’s purpose is for sexual intercourse and is a passageway for sperm and urine. An average sized unstimulated penis is about 3.75 inches in length and 1.2 inches in diameter. When erect on average, men are most between 4.5 to 6 inches in length and 1.5 inches in diameter; 4.5 inches in circumference. The penis’s internal structures consist of the shaftglans, and the root.[6]

The shaft of the penis consists of three cylinder-shaped bodies of spongy tissue filled with tiny blood vessels, which run the length of the organ. Two of these bodies lie side by side in the upper portion of the penis called corpora cavernosa. The third is a tube which lies centrally beneath the others and expands at the end to form the tip of the penis (glans) called the corpus spongiosum.[37] The raised rim at the border of the shaft and glans is called the corona. The urethra runs through the shaft so that sperm and urine have a way out the body. The root consists of the expanded ends of the cavernous bodies, which fan out to form the crura, and attach to the pubic bone and the expanded end of the spongy body also known as the bulb. The root is also surrounded by two muscles: bulbocavernosus muscle and ischiocavernosus muscle which aid in urination and ejaculation. The penis has a foreskin that usually covers the glans, and in many cultures, is removed at birth in a controversial procedure called circumcision.[6] Circumcision is one of the oldest forms of body modification known to exist. The second external structure is the scrotum. Here the testicles are held away from the body so that sperm can be produced in an environment several degrees lower than normal body temperature. Sweat glands are also located in this region to aid in temperature control.

Internal anatomy
The male reproductive system

Males also have internal reproductive structures as well, and these consist of the testicles, the duct system, the prostate and seminal vesicles, and the Cowper’s gland.[6]

The testicles are the male gonads. This is where sperm and male hormones (androgens) are produced. Millions of sperm are produced daily in several hundred seminiferous tubules that measure all together over a quarter of a mile. Cells called the Leydig cells or interstitial cells of Leydig are between the tubules and produce hormones. The hormones that are produced are called androgens, and they consist of testosterone and inhibin. The testicles are held by the spermatic cord which is a tube like structure that contains blood vessels, nerves, the vas deferens, and a muscle that helps to raise and lower the testicles in response to temperature changes and sexual arousal in which the testicles are drawn closer to the body.[6]

The next internal structure is the four part duct system that transports sperm. The first part of this system is the epididymis. The seminiferous tubules are the testicles converging to form coiled tubes that are felt at the top and back of each testicle. Each tubule uncoiled is about twenty feet long. The second part of the duct system is the vas deferens.[6] The vas deferens is also known as “ductus deferens,” and is a muscular tube that begins at the lower end of the epididymis. The vas deferens also passes upward along the side of the testicles to become part of the spermatic cord.[37] The expanded end is the ampulla which stores sperm before ejaculation. The third part of the duct system are the ejaculatory ducts which are one inch long paired tubes that pass through the prostate gland. This is where semen is produced.[6] The prostate gland is a solid, chestnut-shaped organ that surrounds the first part of the urethra (tube which carries the urine and semen and the fourth part of the duct system [6]) in the male.[37]

The prostate gland and the seminal vesicles help produce seminal fluid that gets mixed with sperm to create semen.[6] The prostate gland lies under the bladder, in front of the rectum. It consists of two main zones: the inner zone which produces secretions to keep the lining of the male urethra moist and the outer zone which produces seminal fluids to facilitate the passage of semen.[37] The seminal vesicles secrete fructose for sperm activation and mobilization, prostaglandins to cause uterine contractions which aids in movement through the structure, and bases which help neutralize the acidity of the vagina because sperm cannot survive in an acidic environment. The last internal structure is the Cowper’s glands, or bulbourethral glands, which are two pea sized structures beneath the prostate. These structures

Sexual response cycle

The sexual response cycle is a model that describes the physiological responses that take place in men and women during sexual activity. This model was created byWilliam Masters and Virginia Johnson. According to Masters and Johnson, the human sexual response cycle consists of four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. The excitement phase is the phase in which one attains the intrinsic motivation to pursue sex. The plateau phase sets the stage for orgasm. Orgasm may be more biological for men and more psychological for women. Orgasm is the release of tension, and the resolution period is the unaroused state before the cycle begins again.[6]

The male sexual response cycle starts out in the excitement phase where two centers in the spine are responsible for an erection. Vasoconstriction begins in the penis, the heart rate increases, scrotum thickens, spermatic cord shortens, and the testicles become engorged in blood. The second phase, plateau, the penis increases in diameter, the testicles become even more engorged, and the Cowper’s glands secrete preseminal fluid. The third stage, orgasm, during which rhythmic contractions occur every 0.8 seconds, consists of two phases in men. The first phase of orgasm is the emission phase in which contractions of the vas deferens, prostate, and seminal vesicles encourage ejaculation which is the second phase of orgasm. This phase of orgasm is called the expulsion phase and this phase cannot be reached without an orgasm. Finally, the resolution phase is when the male is now in an unaroused state which consists of a refractory period (rest period) before the cycle can begin. This rest period may increase with a man’s age.[6]

The female sexual response begins with the excitement phase which can last from several minutes to several hours. Characteristics of this phase include increased heart and respiratory rate and an elevation of blood pressure. Flushed skin or blotches of redness may occur on the chest and back; breasts increase slightly in size and nipples become hardened and erect. The onset of vasocongestion results in swelling of the woman’s clitoris and labia minora and the woman’s vagina begins to swell. The muscle that surrounds the vaginal opening grows tighter and her uterus elevates and grows in size. The vaginal walls begin to produce a lubricating liquid. The second phase, called the plateau phase, is characterized primarily by the intensification of all of the changes begun during the excitement phase. The plateau phase extends to the brink of orgasm, which initiates the resolution stage, the reversal of all of the changes begun during the excitement phase. During the orgasm stage the heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and breathing rates reach maximum peaks. The pelvic muscle near the vagina, the anal sphincter and the uterus contract. While muscle contractions in the vaginal area create a high level of pleasure, all orgasms are centered in the clitoris, whether they result from direct manual stimulation applied to the clitoris or indirect pressure resulting from the thrusting of penis during intercourse [6][38][39][40]

Sexual dysfunction and sexual problems

Men and women have many sexual problems which frequently arise because of other problems within a relationship or simply because of individual differences. These differences consist of differences in expectations, assumptions, desire, preferred behaviors, and relationship conflicts. Although these differences create sexual problems in both men and women, problems amongst men and women are different. The World Health Organization’s International Classifications of Diseases defines sexual problems as “the various ways in which an individual is unable to participate in a sexual relationship as he or she would wish.” Sexual disorders, according to the DSM-IV-TR, are disturbances in sexual desire and psycho-physiological changes that characterize the sexual response cycle and cause marked distress, and interpersonal difficulty. There are four major categories of sexual problems: desire disorders, arousal disorders, orgasmic disorders, and sexual pain disorders.[6]

  1. Hypoactive sexual desire
    1. Low sexual drive
    2. Occurs at the excitement phase
  2. Sexual aversion
    1. Anticipation of any kind of sexual interactions causes great anxiety
  3. Sexual arousal disorder
    1. In men, erectile dysfunction
    2. In women, the difficulty of becoming aroused
  4. Orgasmic disorders
    1. In men, premature ejaculation and ejaculatory incompetence
    2. In women, the inability to have an orgasm
  5. Hypersexuality (sexual addiction)
  6. Sexual pain disorders
    1. In men, four different disorders:
      1. Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse due to a physical problem)
      2. Post-ejaculatory syndrome (pain in the genitals during or after orgasm)
      3. Priapism (prolonged erection)
      4. Coital cephalalgia (migraine headaches during and after orgasm)
    2. In women, three different disorders:
      1. Dyspareunia (recurrent genital pain during intercourse)
      2. Vaginismus (vagina involuntarily closes)
      3. Noncoital sexual pain disorder (genital pain due to arousal)

Psychological aspects

Sigmund Freud with daughter Anna

Sexuality in humans generates profound emotional and psychological responses. Some theorists identify sexuality as the central source of human personality.[41]

Psychological studies of sexuality focus on psychological influences that affect sexual behavior and experiences.[25] Early psychological analyses were carried out by Sigmund Freud, who believed in a psychoanalytic approach. He also conjectured the concepts of erogenous zonespsychosexual development, and the Oedipus complex, among others.[42]

Behavior theorists such as John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner examine the actions and consequences and their ramifications. These theorists would, for example, study a child who is punished for sexual exploration and see if they grow up to associate negative feelings with sex in general.[43] Social-learning theorists use similar concepts, but focus on cognitive activity and modeling.

Gender identity is a person’s own sense of identification as female, male, both, neither, or somewhere in between. The social construction of gender has been discussed by a wide variety of scholars, Judith Butler notable among them. Recent contributions consider the influence offeminist theory and courtship research.[44][45]

Sexual behavior and intimate relationships are strongly influenced by a person’s sexual orientation.[46] Sexual orientation refers to your degree of emotional and physical attraction to members of the opposite sex, same sex, or both sexes.[46] Heterosexual people are attracted to the members of the opposite sex. Homosexual people are attracted to people of the same sex. Those who are bisexual are attracted to both men and women.

Before the High Middle Ages, homosexual acts appear to have been ignored or tolerated by the Christian church.[47] During the 12th century however, hostility toward homosexuality began to spread throughout religious and secular institutions. By the end of the 19th century, homosexuality was viewed as a pathology.[47] Havelock Ellisand Sigmund Freud adopted more accepting stances. Ellis argued that homosexuality was inborn and therefore not immoral, that it was not a disease, and that many homosexuals made significant contributions to society.[47] Freud believed all human beings as capable of becoming either heterosexual or homosexual; neither orientation was assumed to be innate.[48] Freud claimed that a person’s orientation depended on how the Oedipus complex was resolved. He believed that male homosexuality resulted when a young boy had an authoritarian, rejecting mother and turned to his father for love and affection and later to men in general. He believed female homosexuality developed when a girl loved her mother and identified with her father and became fixated at that stage.[48]

Freud and Ellis thought homosexuality resulted from reversed gender roles. This view is reinforced today by the media’s portraying male homosexuals as effeminate and female homosexuals as masculine.[48] Whether a person conforms or does not conform to gender stereotypes does not always predict sexual orientation. Society believes that if a man is masculine he is heterosexual, and if a man is feminine he must be homosexual. There is no strong evidence that a homosexual or bisexual orientation must be associated with atypical gender roles. Today, homosexuality is no longer considered to be a pathology. In addition, many factors have been linked to homosexuality including: genetic factors, anatomical factors, birth order, and hormones in the prenatal environment.[48]

Sexuality and age

Child sexuality

Main article: Child sexuality

In the past, children were often assumed not to have sexuality until later development. Sigmund Freud was one of the first researchers to take child sexuality seriously. His ideas, such as psychosexual development and the Oedipus conflict, have been highly debated but regardless, acknowledging the existence of child sexuality was a huge milestone.[49] Freud gave sexual drives an importance and centrality in human life, actions, and behavior arguing that sexual drives exist and can be discerned in children from birth. He explains this in his theory of infantile sexuality, and claims that sexual energy (libido) is the single most important motivating force in adult life.[18]Freud wrote about the importance of interpersonal relationships to ones sexual and emotional development. From the initial days of life, the mother’s connection to the infant has an effect on the infant’s later capacity for pleasure and attachment.[50] Freud described two currents of emotional life in all of us: an affectionate current, including our bonds with the important people in our lives, and a sensual current, including our wish to gratify sexual impulses. During adolescence, a young person tries to integrate these two emotional currents. This is a difficult task and the risks are many. There are numerous inner conflicts and failures of development that may keep a person repeating immature sexual patterns; this is evident in much that we see on the news.[50] The real challenge is to bring about a convergence of the two currents; the affectionate and the sensual. The sexual over excitement often characteristic of adolescent experimentation is not adaptive in a grown adult.

Freud’s work led him to establish the stages of psychosexual development where he describes infantile sexuality through steps.[12] From the moment of birth an infant is driven in their actions by the desire for bodily and sexual pleasure. This is seen by Freud as the desire to release mental energy. At first, infants gain such release, and derive pleasure from the act of sucking. Freud terms this the oral stage of development. It’s followed by a stage in which the center of pleasure or energy release is the anus, mainly in the act of defecation. This is termed the anal stage. Then, the young child develops an interest in its genitalia as a site of pleasure known as the phallic stage. According to Freud, the child then develops a deep sexual attraction for the parent of the opposite sex, and a hatred of the parent of the same sex. This is known as the Oedipus complex. However, this gives rise to socially derived feelings of guilt in the child, who eventually recognizes that it can never supersede the stronger parent. A male child also perceives himself to be at risk, he fears that if he persists in pursuing the sexual attraction for his mother, he may be harmed by the father. Both the attraction for the mother and the hatred are usually repressed, and the child typically resolves the conflict of the Oedipus complex by coming to identify with the parent of the same sex. This happens at the age of five, whereupon the child enters a latency period in which sexual motivations become much less pronounced. This lasts until puberty when mature genital development begins and the pleasure drive refocuses around the genital area.[18] Freud believed that this is the progression inherent in normal human development, and is to be observed beginning at the infant level. The instinctual attempts to satisfy the pleasure drive are frequently checked by parental control and social influencing. For the child, the developmental process is in essence a movement through a series of conflicts. The successful resolution of these conflicts is crucial to adult mental health. Many mental illnesses, particularly hysteria, Freud held, can be traced back to unresolved conflicts experienced at this stage, or to events which otherwise disrupt the normal pattern of infantile development. For example, homosexuality is seen by some Freudians as resulting from a failure to resolve the conflicts of the Oedipus complex, particularly a failure to identify with the parent of the same sex; the obsessive concern with washing and personal hygiene which characterizes the behavior of some neurotics is seen as resulting from unresolved conflicts or repressions occurring at the anal stage.[18]

Alfred Kinsey also examined child sexuality in his Kinsey Reports. Children are naturally curious about their bodies and sexual functions. For example, they wonder where babies come from, they notice the differences between males and females, and many engage in genital play (often mistaken for masturbation). Child sex play includes exhibiting or inspecting the genitals. Many children take part in some sex play, typically with siblings or friends.[49] Sex play with others usually decreases as children go through their elementary school years, yet they still may possess romantic interest in their peers. Curiosity levels remain high during these years, but it is not until adolescence that the main surge in sexual interest occurs.[49]

Sexuality in late adulthood

Main article: Sexuality in older age

The sexuality of the adult originates in childhood. However, like thinking and other human capacities, sexuality is not fixed, it matures and develops. Freud’s ideas teach us the value of intimate personal attachment and its key place in mature sexual fulfillment. His ideas also help us to understand that the desire for pleasure is an important motivating force in our lives.[50] Changes in sexual behavior occur with age and while humans in late adulthood may be impaired by weakness, relationship needs such as closeness and sensuality remain. Aging produces changes in sexual performance. Men are more likely to experience these changes than women. For men, orgasms become less frequent and usually need more direct stimulation to produce an erection. One out of four men, ages 65 to 80, has severe problems getting or keeping erections, and this percentage increased with men over 80 years of age. Yet the use of drugs to treat erectile dysfunction increases the expectations of older adults to have sex. Despite medical complications and opinions that people in late adulthood should not be sexually active, many older adults continue to engage in sexual intercourse. The results of a recent interview study involving 3,000 adults 57 to 85 years of age have shown that health plays a role in the level of older adults’ sexual activity. The percentage of sexually active older adults is higher for those that are in good health than those in poor health. Older women may be less sexually active due to outliving their partners or men’s tendency to marry younger women. Older adults who engage in sexual activity, intimacy, and companionship tend to be more satisfied with life.[49] A common stereotype suggests that people tend to lose interest in and ability to engage in sexual acts once they reach late adulthood. This stereotype is mainly reinforced through Western pop culture. TV shows and movies ridicule older adults that try to engage in sexual activities. Men are shown suffering heart attacks from over excitement, and women are grateful if anyone shows an interest in them. Even language used encourages this behavior. If an older man is sexually interested or active he is called a dirty old man as some would say. This is considered so abnormal for women that there is not an equivalent term for older women. Rather the language for older women is sexless.[51] Older women come off as sexually unattractive and undesirable. Sexuality and age is similar to most other aspects of aging. Age does not necessarily change our need or desire to be sexually expressive or active. If a couple has been in a long-term relationship, the frequency of sexual activity may decrease, but not necessarily their satisfaction with each other. Many couples find that the type of sexual expression may change, and that with age and the term of relationship there is increased intimacy and love. If sex and sexual intimacy are important aspects in one’s life during young and middle adulthood they will continue to be factors in older adulthood.[51]

One aspect of aging that is particular to a woman’s experience is menopause. This process, which occurs toward the late forties or early fifties, is dependent on a woman’s biological makeup. Common signs of menopause include lengthening or shortening of the menstrual cycle and blood loss that becomes either heavier or lighter than usual. Hot flashes may occur up to two years prior to menopause and continue for several years after.[52] Night sweats are a common symptom for women who are approaching menopause. Loss of muscle tone in the urinary tract may cause more frequent urination, while some women become more prone to urinary tract infections. Skin may also become more dry or oily than usual. Hormonal changes may also be the reason for vaginal dryness, joint pain and abdominal weight gain.[52]Many women are made to feel that because they are no longer able to reproduce, they are no longer able to be sexually active. Some women may experience a decline in sexual desire because of the decline in production of the hormone estrogen. However, many other women report an increase in desire and activity. This is because there is no longer a concern about pregnancy, children are generally self-sufficient and postmenopausal woman may even be more assertive in expressing their needs.[51]

Although men do not experience the same physical changes that women do with menopause they do experience physical changes with age that affect their sexuality. Erections may not be as firm or last as long, and there may be a longer waiting period between erections. These changes can be accommodated by increased manual stimulation and other modes of sexual expression in addition to normal intercourse.[51] As women experience menopause, men experience something similar as well. They experience what is known as climacteric. The male climacteric occurs between the ages of 35 and 60; again, this is dependent on the males’ biological makeup. Although remaining fertile, climacteric men may feel unsatisfied with their achievements and lifestyles. They may also experience a range of unpleasant emotions and physical symptoms that are linked to the aging process.[52] A gradual decrease in testosterone production may cause physical symptoms such as a lack of energy, erectile dysfunction, and muscle deterioration. The weakening health of a man’s heart, prostate, kidneys, hearing and digestive systems are also signs of aging that occur during a males later life, or climacteric period.[52] What can impact sexuality in old age is partner availability and health (two factors that have an impact throughout the lifespan).[51] For older women, partner availability is a serious issue. Women outnumber men by increasingly larger numbers as they age; thus, the available pool of males decreases with age. Many divorced, widowed, or never-married older women may find themselves alone and looking more towards masturbation for sexual gratification.[51]

There are certain diseases, health situations, and medications that can have an impact on sex and sexual activity. There are also many ways to accommodate the changes. Medications can be altered and the way we express ourselves sexually can be changed to accommodate physical limitations. Whatever the case, the need for intimacy continues throughout the lifespan and throughout late adulthood.[51]

Sociocultural aspects

Women’s liberation demonstration, 1970

Human sexuality can also be understood as part of the social life of humans, governed by implied rules of behavior and the status quo. This focus narrows the view to groups within a society.[25] The socio-cultural context of society places major influences on and form social norms, including the effects of politics and the mass media. In the past people fought for their civil rights, and such movements helped to bring about massive changes in social norms — examples include the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism.[53][54]

The link between constructed sexual meanings and racial ideologies has been studied in the past. It is found sexual meanings are constructed to maintain racial-ethnic-national boundaries, by denigration of “others,” and regulation of sexual behavior within the group. “Both adherence to and deviation from such approved behaviors, define and reinforce racial, ethnic, and nationalist regimes.”[55][56]

The age and manner in which children are informed of issues of sexuality is a matter of sex education. The school systems in almost all developed countries have some form of sex education, but the nature of the issues covered varies widely. In some countries (such as Australia and much of Europe) “age-appropriate” sex education often begins in pre-school, whereas other countries leave sex education to the pre-teenage and teenage years.[57] Sex education covers a range of topics, including the physical, mental, and social aspects of sexual behavior. Where one is geographically placed also plays a role in when society feels it is appropriate for a child to learn about sexuality. In the United States, sexuality is on the “hush-hush” or is unspoken of which happens to limit sources of sexual knowledge. According to TIME magazine and CNN, 74% of teenagers reported that their major source of sexual information were their peers and the media compared to only 10% naming their parents or a sex education course;[6] therefore society makes a huge impact on people’s views when it comes to the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and attitudes towards sexuality. Society’s views on sexuality have many influences from the past and the present. Even religion and philosophy make an impact. One theorist, Vygotsky states that a child’s development cannot be understood only by the individual alone. The only way to truly understand development is by looking at the individual and the environment or external social world in which the development is occurring.[58]

Religious sexual morality

Main article: Religion and sexuality

Most world religions have sought to address the moral issues that arise from people’s sexuality in society and in human interactions. Each major religion has developed moral codes covering issues of sexuality, morality, ethics etc., which have sought to guide people’s sexual activities and practices. The influence of religion on sexuality is especially apparent in the long debated issue of gay marriage versus civil union. When it comes to Judaism it is said that sex is sacred between man and women, within marriage, and should be enjoyed. Celibacy is sinful.[6] Actually, the Jewish do not believe that sex is shameful, sinful, or obscene, although the Jewish faith emphasizes that sexual desire should be controlled and channeled only to be satisfied at the proper time, place, and manner, between husband and wife, out of mutual love and desire for one another. This means that all sexual contact is permissible only within marriage because it is believed that all sexual contact leads to intercourse; therefore sex requires commitment and responsibility. The primary purpose of sex according to the Jewish is to reinforce the marital bond and to procreate making any sexual act permissible as long as it does not involve ejaculation outside the vagina. Sex is the right of the woman, not the man and it is should only be experienced in times of joy because it is a selfish personal satisfaction that must be pleasurable for both parties. Men cannot force women to have sex, and women cannot take away sex as punishment because it is an offense to use sex to manipulate or as a weapon. Finally, sex cannot be experienced while intoxicated or quarreling.[59]

Traditionally, Christianity has viewed human sexuality as primarily though not exclusively aimed at reproduction and as tainted by concupiscence after the Fall. Saint Paulspoke of the flesh as at war with the spirit and struggled to control it, though he saw the body itself as holy and a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:19). He stated that a celibate lifestyle was preferable for serving God undistracted, which was later cited as a reason for priests having to give up sex and marriage. Saint Augustine believed that sex was only justified in marriage with a view toward procreation, and that when aimed exclusively at pleasure it was tainted by sin. Saint Augustine speaks of the three goods of marriage, the good of fidelity (fidei), of offspring (prolis), and of the sacramental bond (sacramenti).

The Bible states within the first commandment to procreate, but the misconception about sex being shameful or sinful is contradicted. In the book of Genesis 2:24-25, it states that a husband must stick to his wife and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. The becoming one flesh is the sexual act which according to this, does not lead into shame. On the other hand, both husband and wife are supposed to be submissive sexually to their partner, no longer having authority over their own bodies, and cannot deny each other sex in order to refrain from satisfying in temptation from out the marriage since fidelity (faithfulness to a sexual partner) is important. The bible may permit sexual activity within a marriage between man and women; it is a sin to engage in homosexuality, bestiality (sexual relations with animals), incest (sexual relations within the immediate family structure), fornication (sex outside marriage), adultery (cheating on husband or wife), rape, and viewing pornography. It is believed that those who are sexually immoral are separated from God and will not share in God’s inheritance upon death. To engage in any of these sinful sexual activities in the past, punishment was death.[60]

The Catholic Church teaches that sexuality is “noble and worthy”[61] but that it must be used in accordance with natural law. For this reason, all sexual activity must occur in the context of a marriage between a man and a woman and must not be divorced from the possibility of conception. All forms of sex not open to conception are considered intrinsically disordered and sinful, such as any sex with contraceptives, autosexual activity (e.g. masturbation), and homosexual acts. Recent currents of Catholic thought, such as John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, have placed special emphasis on the dignity and beauty of human sexuality, calling it a special gift of God that is preserved and respected by reserving it for marriage. Sex is sanctified by the rebirth of Christ. It helps us to grow and create bonds of love.

Within the Islamic faith, sexual desire is considered to be a natural urge that should not be suppressed, although, the concept of free sex is not accepted; therefore these urges should be fulfilled responsibly. Marriage is considered to be a good deed and it does not hinder spiritual wayfaring. The term used for marriage within the Quran is “nikah” which literally means sexual intercourse.[62] Although, Islam was sexually restrained, the Islamic faith emphasized sexual pleasure within marriage. It is acceptable for a man to have more than one wife, but he must take care of that wife physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.[63] They oppose celibacy and monasticism (withdrawing from society to devote one’s self to prayer, solitude, and contemplation).[62]

The views on sexuality in Hinduism emphasizes that sex is only appropriate between husband and wife in which satisfying sexual urges through sexual pleasure is an important duty of marriage. Any sex before marriage is considered to interfere with their intellectual development, especially between birth and the age of 25 which is said to be brahmacharya; therefore, this should be avoided. Kama (sensual pleasures) is one of the four purusharthas or aims of life (dharma, artha, kama, and moksha).[64] One of the sacred texts which happen to be popular within Western culture, the “Kama Sutra,” was created by the Hindus as manual for love making in marriage. This text emphasizes pleasure being the aim of intercourse and even goes in depth about homosexual desires which are believed to be the same as heterosexual desires. Even within Hindu temples (places of worship) there were depictions of sexuality within the sculptures. Such temples are at Khajuraho andKonarak, but due to colonialism, Hindus became more rigid in their views about sexuality, and then internalized Victorian ideals of heterosexual monogamy.[65]

Buddhism emphasizes the “Middle Way” which is never reaching the extremes. According to this religion, moderation in everything is key to enlightenment or nirvana; therefore, human sexuality should fall in the middle on a continuum from extreme Puritanism to extreme permissiveness. Buddhist also emphasize kama which is a sign that their basis of belief uses Hinduism as their foundation. But all in all, Buddhism does not have an specific rules to break that has horrible consequences as other religions do because Buddhist do not believe in sin, there is only the skilled and unskilled the feeling of pleasure is neither.[66]

Sexuality in history

The prehistoric Venus of Willendorf
Min: the ancient Egyptian god of fertility

Sexuality has always been a vital part of the human existence and in societies from the long hunting and gathering phases of history to the rise of agriculture, the long centuries of the agricultural period of history,[67] as well as during modern times (44). For all civilizations throughout time, there have been a few common, special characteristics of how sexuality was managed through sexual standards, representations, and behavior.[67] Art and artifacts from past eras help portray human’s perceptions of sexuality throughout time.[6]

Pre-modern developments

Sexuality and the rise of agriculture

Before the rise of agriculture there were groups of hunter/gatherers (H/G) or nomads inhabiting the world. Within these groups, some implications of male dominance existed, but there were also ample signs that women were active participants in sexuality with bargaining power of their own. These H/G groups had less restrictive sexual standards that emphasized sexual pleasure and enjoyment, but with definite rules and constraints. Some underlying continuities or key regulatory standards contended with the tension between recognition of pleasure, interest, and the need, for the sake of social order and economic survival. H/G groups also place high value on certain types of sexual symbolism. Two common tensions of H/G societies are expressed in their art which emphasizes male sexuality and prowess with equally common tendencies to blur gender lines in sexual matters. Some examples of these male dominated portrayals is the Egyptian creation myth when the sun god Atum masturbates in the water creating the Nile River, or in the Sumerian myth of the Gods’ semen filling the Tigris.[67]

Within primitive art, female forms are depicted as passive, faceless, fat, and with clothing displaying their breasts or pubic hair. Male forms had pronounced phallic apparatuses. Males were associated with animals, and wore jewelry and ornaments to adorn the penis. Hunter/gatherer groups even had phallic sticks and monuments depicting penises. Rituals of cross-dressing were also common. During the Siberian Bear ceremony, people would dress as the opposite sex for ceremonial purposes. Most people believed that to transcend gender boundaries has a spiritual meaning. Even some priests and shamans were bisexual or having “two-spirit behavior.” Some Native American groups had initiation rites where older uncles penetrate younger nephews at the first sign of puberty, clearly showing that H/G groups did not hold firm boundaries on sexual orientation. Even in Sicily, there are rock carvings of homoerotic scenes. The Inuit communities in North America had lover’s camps in which couples would go for sexual activity.[67]

Another tension is also expressed in actual sexual expressions which combine the importance of sexual pleasure with the need of birth control. There were three common methods of birth control used in these times, all having implications for frequency and pleasure in sexual expression. These methods are:

  1. Women nursed their babies for long periods of time, at least up to six years.
  2. Women used fertility awareness or the rhythm method in which keeping tract of menstruation was pertinent, but the problem with this was hunter/gathers believed that conception occurs during menstruation.
  3. Couples also abstained from intercourse which could also be the reason for the acceptance of male homosexual behavior.[67]
Introduction of agriculture (9000 BCE to 8000 BCE)

Once agricultural societies emerge, the sexuality framework shifts in many ways that persist for many millennia in much of AsiaAfricaEurope, and parts of theAmericas. On common characteristic that became new to these societies was the collective supervision of sexual behavior due to the population increases and more concentrated communities due to urbanization. It was a normal event for a child to witness parents having sex because many parents shared the same sleeping quarters with other relatives. Also, due to landownership, determining a child’s paternity became important, and society became patriarchal in family life. These changes in sexual ideology were used to try and control female sexuality and to differentiate standards by gender. With these ideologies, sexual possessiveness and increases in jealousy emerged. With the domestication of animals, new opportunities for bestiality (sex with animals) flourished. Mostly males performed these types of sexual acts and many societies acquired firm rules against it. These acts also explain the many depictions of the half man, half animal mythical creatures, and the sports of gods and goddesses with animals.[67]

Along with agriculture came increased amounts of labor. Due to this increase labor, the importance of having children increased. Because of this, birth rates increased,breastfeeding durations may have decreased, procreation gains more attention and significance, increases in infertility among couples emerges, and women’s roles in society changes to the child bearer, mother, and care-giver. Because of this need for children, there was also an increase in disapproval about masturbation, especially for men. On the other hand, although having children were important for labor, it was also important to keep this to a minimum in order to keep the population to a minimum so again birth control is extremely important. Some methods of birth control used during these times are breastfeeding, not allowing sex before marriage especially for women, and the frequency of sexual activity might have decreased in mature adulthood, but before menopause. Herbs were also used to limit fertility or induce abortion is needed. It was even found that some societies used condoms made out of animal bladders, although, this was not common.[67]

Sexuality in the classical period (1000 BCE to 500 CE)

While still holding onto earlier precedents of earlier civilizations, each classical civilization established a somewhat distinctive approach to gender, artistic expression of sexual beauty, and to particular behaviors such as homosexuality. Some of these distinctions are portrayed in sex manuals which were also common among these civilizations. These civilizations consist of China, Greece/Rome, Persia, and India, and each has their own history in the sexual world.[67]

  1. China—with the introduction of Confucianism under the later Zhou dynasty, and then greater acceptance of Confucian values under the mature Han dynasty had direct implications on sexual standards in classical China. This society moves from tolerant and expressive to increasing regulation in interests of social hierarchyand family order. The Zhou dynasty shared a strong appreciation for sexual pleasure, sexual prowess was widely appreciated, and polygamy was common. The classical Chinese in the 12th century BCE described male and female orgasms as fire and water, and poems used copulation imagery to represent the relationship between humans and gods. The Chinese also generated the first known sex manuals that portrayed graphic terms of body parts such as the penis being a dragon stalk or jade stalk and a clitoris being a jade pearl. Orgasms were described as bursting clouds. Along with these manuals, some explicit pornography was available for both men and women. The classical Chinese people also linked sexuality with basic philosophical principles such as being heterosexual helps a man balance yin and yang. Masturbation was considered to be wrong for men, but accepted for women as long they did not penetrate themselves with a foreign object. Premarital sex was condemned, especially in the “Book of Songs.” Fears of deviance increased, and accusations of incest increased. The emperor also lived a polygamous lifestyle with many concubines, but only one empress which he would only have sex with during his most fertile days. Due to the costs of taking care of a family, the more concubines one has, the more wealth this person has.[67]
  2. Greece and Rome—the ancient Greeks and Romans placed a strong emphasis on marriage and the family. There was also a belief in procreation being the primary purpose of marital sex, and couples had children for the state;[6] therefore, in Greek society, marriage was based on economic arrangements, not sexual ones, and monogamy was emphasized with control over female sexuality. Due to this, value was placed on female restraint and virginity, and women were expected to experience periods of celibacy in order to conserve social energy for bountiful crops.[67] Greek and Roman males were allowed considerable sexual freedom outside of marriage, and in Greece, sexual relations between men and adolescent boys were encouraged as part of the boy’s intellectual, emotional, and moral development.[6] In Sparta (a Greek city-state), males were taken away to be trained by other males once hitting a certain age, and women had more public freedom with respect to the state duty of reproduction. By 500 BCE, in the Greek mainland of Miletus, an industry to manufacture dildos emerged, and the use ofolive oil as lubricant became popular. These societies did not use appropriate birth control methods because the Greco/Romans had no knowledge of how pregnancy or conception occurs. The use of a copper sulfate mixture as a contraceptive was apparent. Since birth control was unattainable, infanticide (killing of infant girls) was used to keep populations at bay. Female slaves were used as prostitutesBrothels spread widely. Even one Athenian ruler, Pericles, took a mistress after his divorce that owned and ran a brothel to the elite. In this society, masturbation was tolerated for men, but for women it was limited—even with the manufactured dildos. Castrated men or eunuchs were responsible for the bureaucratic functions of the government, and performed the hair cutting and dressing of the elite male. Greco/Roman times encouraged homosexuality between males. Lesbianism existed, but it was not as apparent. Once the Greeks gave power to the Romans, two shifts in sexuality became noteworthy. The first is that the opinion of women increased, and the second is the increased disapproval of homosexuality. One the other hand, Romans showed an increase interest in highly sexual art, generated sex manuals, and made prostitutes register with the state for taxation purposes.[67]
  3. Persia—in this classical civilization there were laws against abortion. Polygamy was encouraged. Eunuchs were used in the courts. Persia absorbed influences from Egyptian precedents concerning sexuality and Indian ideas about the spirituality surrounding sex. Persia is also influenced by earlier Mesopotamian traditions. Persians learned exclusively from Greece particularly with regard to homosexual behavior between older men and younger boys in the elite classes.[67]
  4. India—in this classical civilization, sexual pleasure was regarded as the best of all earthly pleasures. Indians also placed importance on reproduction, and state there is a link between sex and spirituality. The early stories about the gods and goddesses involved sexual themes. Incarnations of the gods had sexual liaisons, and all major gods were always paired with goddesses who provided the basic life force. During the Gupta period, the sexual manual the “Kama Sutra” became available, and is still available in the present times. This manual explained ways to maximize sexual pleasure and paid great attention towards the importance offoreplayArranged marriages were performed with the parents choosing a suitable mate within the same caste. In this society, it was the man’s responsibility to keep his wife and himself happy which showed an emphasis on mutuality. Although marriage was arranged based on caste and not love, love was also emphasized as important in marriage. This is why it is advised that after marriage, a couple should wait 4 nights before intercourse so that can be properly acquainted. Polygamy was also allowed, but not common. India also established the first ever global sex trade by trading female slaves with Egypt for prostitution or marriage as a concubine. Brothels also existed and were controlled by the government. Prostitutes were accomplished and educated and were considered to be powerful and divine in sexual force. Female virginity was important for marriage, abortion was illegal, female beauty standards emphasized qualities appropriate for childbirth, and homosexuality and castration were looked down upon. In the final centuries BCE, some laws began to target non-vaginal sex.[67]

Modern developments

During the 18th and 19th centuries, during the beginning of the industrial revolution, many changes in sexual standards have occurred. New dramatic artificial birth control devices are introduced such as the condom and diaphragm. Doctors started claiming a new role in sexual matters urging that their advice was crucial to sexual morality and health. A significant new pornographic industry blossomed, and Japan adopted its first ever laws against homosexuality. On the other hand, in western societies, the definition of homosexuality is constantly changing, and western influence on others is increasing in strength. New contacts created serious issues around sexuality and sexual traditions. There were also major shifts in sexual behavior. During this period, the ages at which puberty starts to decrease, so a new focus onadolescence as a time of sexual confusion and danger emerges. Finally, there was a new focus on the purpose of marriage being for love rather than just economics and reproduction.[67]

  1. Victorian era—this era was during the 19th century after Queen Victoria reigned in England. It was an era of public prudery and purity. Sexual pleasure was denied. People were influenced by conservative reforms of the British Evangelicals in the late 1700s and early 1800s.[6] Victorian sexual morality consisted of many aspects. It was believed that sex should be confined to marriage, and that the young should control their impulses, especially men. In marriage, sexual pleasure was to be moderated by restraint. Sexual activity was negatively linked to health stating that male orgasm was taxing.[67] Victorian physicians believed that the loss of semen was as detrimental to a man’s health as the loss of blood.[6] It was even said that man can go insane or prematurely die from excessive sexual intercourse. Warning about venereal diseases increased in order to scare people out of having sexual relations outside of marriage. Even a French doctor once advised that marriage was good for health because it leads to sexual boredom which in turn protect against heart attacks. Victorians were also against masturbation of any kind. Young men were imprisoned in asylums for the treatment of obsessive masturbation.[67] Masturbation was such an issue that different devices were created to prevent it. A spermatorrhea ring was used to prevent male nocturnal emissions (wet dreams), and a “surgical appliance” made up of leather straps and metal pockets to prevent masturbation.[6] Cliterodectomies were performed against female habitual masturbators. Sex was emphasized to be for male pleasure, and something that women do not enjoy. During the Victorian Era, there was a ban on art and literature regarded as lewd. There was a ban on the publicity and sale for the manufacture of any birth control items and abortion. Mainly, the people of this era showed extreme restraint.[67]
  2. Sexual Revolution and Birth Control–“The sexual revolution is a sign of a new youth culture that included commitment to sexual expression.[67]” The sexual revolution, occurring in the 1960s and ‘70s, happened to be an era of “free love.” Mechanization and more efficient means of production led to shorter work weeks and more leisure time. The invention of the automobile allowed for the escape from adult supervision at any time. During this period, women gained equality in society through the Women’s Rights Movement. Women also began to take active roles in sexual matters. The introduction of penicillin in 1940 decreased fears about sexually transmitted diseases and infections. In the 1960s, the availability of birth control allowed for sexual freedom amongst women. Thepill and the IUD came about. This emergence of birth control also allowed for spontaneity in sexual endeavors.[6] Margaret Sanger brought about birth control while working with the scientist Gregory Pinkus who developed the birth control pill. Sanger also worked with Katherine McCormick who funded the birth control project, and John Rocke, a Catholic priest, whom tried to convince the Catholic Church to change their beliefs and regulations on birth control.[68] The separation between sexual pleasure and reproduction emerged allowing for more emphasis on sexual pleasure in society. Then in the 1980s, HIV/AIDs surfaced to existence.[67]
  3. Alfred Kinsey’s research—Alfred Kinsey initiated the modern era of sex research. He collected data by giving questionnaires to his students at Indiana University, but then switched to personal interviews interested in male and female sexual behaviors. Kinsey and his colleagues sampled a total of 5,300 men and 5,940 women. His findings found that most people masturbate, that many engaged in oral-genital sex, women are capable of having multiple orgasms, and that many men had had some type of homosexual experience in their lifetime. Many believe that he was the major influence in changing 20th century attitudes about sex, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University continues to be a major center for the study of human sexuality.[6]
  4. Masters’ and Johnson’s research—Before William Masters, a physician, and Virginia Johnson, a behavioral scientist, the study of fundamental anatomy and physiological studies of sex was still limited to experiments with lab animals. Masters and Johnson started to directly observe and record the physical responses in humans that are engaged in sexual activity under laboratory settings. They covered 10,000 episodes of sexual acts consisting of 312 men and 382 women. This led to methods of treating clinical problems and abnormalities. Masters and Johnson opened the very first sex therapy clinic in 1965. In 1970, they described their therapeutic techniques in their book “Human Sexual Inadequacy.[6]
  5. Today’s Influences—Sexuality of today is not only influenced by human ancestry or religions. Sexuality of today is also influenced by the internal commercial society within societies—mainly western. According to a Time Magazine/CNN survey, 74% of teenagers said that friends and television were their main sources of sexual education. The fact that the average American child spends six to eight hours a day watching, listening to, or reading some form of media explains their reasoning behind these findings.[6]

Prostitution and survival sex

Main article: Prostitution

People sometimes exchange sex for money or access to other resources. This practice, called prostitution, takes place under many varied circumstances. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including “john”. Prostitution is one of the branches of the sex industry. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being a punishable crime to a regulated profession. Estimates place the annual revenue generated from the global prostitution industry to be over $100 billion.[69] Prostitution is sometimes referred to as “the world’s oldest profession”.[70] Prostitution may be a voluntary individual activity or facilitated or forced by pimps.

Survival sex is a form of prostitution engaged in by people in extreme need, usually when homeless or otherwise disadvantaged people trade sex for food, a place to sleep, or other basic needs, or for drugs.[71] The term is used by sex trade and poverty researchers and aid workers.[72][73]

Sexual behavior

Main article: Human sexual activity

Human sexual behavior, driven by the desire for pleasure, encompasses the search for a partner or partners, interactions between individuals, physicalemotional intimacy, and sexual contact that may lead to foreplaymasturbation and ultimately orgasm.[74]

Human sexual activities or human sexual practices or human sexual behavior refers to the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts from time to time, and for a wide variety of reasons. Sexual activity normally results in sexual arousal and physiological changes in the aroused person, some of which are pronounced while others are more subtle. Sexual activity also includes conduct and activities which are intended to arouse the sexual interest of another, such as strategies to find or attract partners (mating and display behavior), and personal interactions between individuals, such as flirting and foreplay.

Human sexual activity has biological, physical and emotional aspectsBiologically, it refers to the reproductive mechanism as well as the basic biological drive that exists in all species and can encompass sexual intercourse and sexual contact in all its forms. Emotional aspects deal with the intense personal bonds and emotions generated between sexual partners by a sexual activity. Physical issues around sexuality range from purely medical considerations to concerns about the physiological or evenpsychological and sociological aspects of sexual behaviour.

In humans, sex has been claimed to produce health benefits as varied as improved sense of smell,[75] stress and blood pressure reduction,[76][77] increased immunity,[78]and decreased risk of prostate cancer.[79][80][81] Sexual intimacy, as well as orgasms, increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone”, which helps people bond and build trust.[82][83][84] A long-term study of 3,500 people between 30 and 101 by clinical neuropsychologist David Weeks, MD, head of old age psychology at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Scotland, found that “sex helps you look between four and seven years younger”, according to impartial ratings of the subjects’ photos. Exclusive causation, however, is unclear, and the benefits may be indirectly related to sex and directly related to significant reductions in stress, greater contentment, and better sleep that sex promotes.[85][86][87]

In contrast to its benefits, sexual intercourse can also be a disease vector.[88] There are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) every year in the U.S.,[89] and worldwide there are over 340 million STDs a year.[90] More than half of all STDs occur in adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 years.[91] At least one in four U.S. teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.[89][92] In the US, about 30% of 15–17 year old adolescents have had sexual intercourse, but only about 80% of 15–19 year old adolescents report using condoms for their first sexual intercourse.[93] More than 75% of young women age 18–25 years felt they were at low risk of acquiring an STD in one study.[94]

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are bacterial, viral or parasitic infections that are spread mainly by sexual activity (including vaginal and anal intercourse and oral-genital contact). [48] Many people cannot tell that their partner has an STI because many are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms).[48] Anyone that is engaging in sexual activity is at risk for contracting STIs, but the risks can be minimized by safe sex practices such as using condoms. Many people believe that STIs are retributions for having premarital or immoral sex, sometimes linking these beliefs with religious prohibitions. Others believe they result from promiscuity. Whilst there is no direct causal link between these types of sexual activity and STI’s, there may be an increased likelihood of contracting disease when having sex with multiple partners. Furthermore, hundreds of people, both men and women, have caught STIs from adulterous partners. In addition, newborns have contracted them from their infected mothers. In the past, STIs have been referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) but today, health professionals refer to them as STIs to emphasize that they are infectious diseases (other disease such as heart disease are not).[48]


Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. In women, symptoms may include abnormal vaginal discharge, burning during urination, and bleeding in between periods, although most women do not experience any symptoms. [48] Symptoms in men include pain when urinating, and abnormal discharge from their penis. [95] If left untreated in both men and women, Chlamydia can infect the urinary tract and potentially lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause serious problems during pregnancy and infertility. Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics.

Herpes simplex viruses

The two most common forms of herpes are caused by infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV-1 is acquired orally and causes cold sores. HSV-2 is acquired during sexual contact and affects the genitals. Some people are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. Those that do experience symptoms usually notice them 2 to 20 days after exposure which last 2 to 4 weeks. Symptoms can include small fluid-filled blisters, headaches, backaches, itching or tingling sensations in the genital or anal area, pain during urination, Flu like symptoms, swollen glands, or fever. Herpes is spread through skin contact with a person infected with the virus. The virus affects the areas where it entered the body. This can occur through kissing, vaginal intercourse, oral sex or anal sex. The virus is most infectious during times when there are visible symptoms, however those who are asymptomatic can can still spread the virus through skin contact.[96] The primary attack is the most severe because the body does not have any antibodies built up. After the primary attack, one might have recurring attacks that are milder or might not even have future attacks. There is no cure for the disease but there are antiviral medications that treat its symptoms and lower the risk of transmission (Valtrex).

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

The human papillomavirus is the most common STI in the United States.[97] There are more than 40 different strands of HPV and many do not cause any health problems. In 90% of cases the body’s immune system clears the infection naturally within 2 years.[98] Some cases may not be cleared and can lead to genital warts (bumps around the genitals that can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like cauliflower) or cervical cancer and other HPV related cancers. Symptoms might not show up until advanced stages. It is important for women to get regular pap smears in order to check for and treat cancers. There are also two vaccines available for women (Cervarix and Gardasil) that protect against the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. HPV can be passed through genital-to-genital contact as well as during oral sex. It is important to remember that the infected partner might not have any symptoms.


Gonorrhea is caused by bacterium that lives on moist mucous membranes in the urethra, vagina, rectum, mouth, throat, and eyes. The infection can spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus. Symptoms of Gonorrhea usually appear 2 to 5 days after contact with an infected partner however, some men might not notice symptoms for up to a month. Symptoms in men include burning and pain while urinating, increased urinary frequency, discharge from the penis (white, green, or yellow in color), red or swollen urethra, swollen or tender testicles, or sore throat. Symptoms in women may include vaginal discharge, burning or itching while urinating, painful sexual intercourse, severe pain in lower abdomen (if infection spreads to fallopian tubes), or fever (if infection spreads to fallopian tubes), however many women do not show any symptoms. [99] There are some antibiotic resistant strains for Gonorrhea but most cases can be cured with antibiotics.


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) damages the body’s immune system which interferes with fighting off disease-causing agents. The virus kills CD4 cells, which are white blood cells that help fight off various infections. HIV is carried in body fluids, and is spread by sexual activity. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood, breast feeding, childbirth, and from mother to child during pregnancy.[100] When HIV is at its most advanced stage an individual is said to have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).[101] There are different stages of the progression of and HIV infection. The stages include primary infection, asymptomatic infection, symptomatic infection, and AIDS. In the primary infection stage, an individual will have flu like symptoms (headache, fatigue, fever, muscle aches) for about 2 weeks. In the asymptomatic stage, symptoms usually disappear, and the patient can remain asymptomatic for years. When HIV progresses to the symptomatic stage, the immune system is weakened, and has a low cell count of CD4+ T Cells. When the HIV infection becomes life-threatening, it is called AIDS. People with AIDS fall prey to opportunistic infections and die as a result.[48] When the disease was first discovered in the 1980s, those who had AIDS were not likely to live longer than a few years. There are now antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) available to treat HIV infections. There is no known cure for HIV or AIDS but the drugs help suppress the virus. By suppressing the amount of virus in the body, people can lead longer and healthier lives. Even though their virus levels may be low they can still spread the virus to others.[102]

Birth control

Main article: Birth control

The birth control pill was introduced in 1960 however, until recently condoms and other birth control options that did not require a visit to the doctor were kept behind the counter in drugstores. This inhibited many people from purchasing them. Today, there are numerous contraceptive devices for males as well as females that are sold openly.

  1. Relatively Ineffective Methods
    1. Withdrawal (coitus interruptus): One of the most popular ways in which young people try to avoid pregnancy. This method involves the man withdrawing his penis just before reaching orgasm and ejaculating outside his partner’s vagina.[48]
    2. Douching: Some women believe douching is an effective method because it washes out the contents of the vagina (doing it after sex would get rid of sperm). Many do not know that no matter how rapidly a woman douches after sex some sperm have already traveled into the cervix.[48]
    3. Lactational amenorrhea (breast-feeding): When a woman is breast-feeding the sucking response of the baby on her nipple inhibits the pituitary from releasing FSH and LH. This prevents ovulation and normal menstrual cycles.
  2. Fertility awareness methods
    1. Calendar method: This method has been promoted by the Catholic Church as a morally acceptable form of family planning. The calendar method is based on 3 assumptions [103]:
  • Ovulation occurs 14 days before a woman’s menstrual cycle, plus or minus 2 days
  • Sperm can remain alive for up to 3 days
  • The ovum can be fertilized 24 hours after it has been released from the ovary

Using those 3 concepts, a woman with a regular cycle can count backwards from the first day of her period to figure out when she will be ovulating and avoid having sex during that time in the following month.

    1. Basal body temperature method: This method involves recording a woman’s body temperature throughout her menstrual cycle. A woman’s basal (resting) temperature rises just before ovulation. The rise in temperature tells a woman when she is most fertile.[104]
    2. Billings method: Mucus is discharged from the cervix throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. It changes from white and sticky to clear and stretchy (like an egg white) a day or two before ovulation.[48] The billings method is a form of natural birth control that teaches a woman to recognize when she is fertile by examining her cervical mucus.[105] To prevent pregnancy, a woman should refrain from sex during the time when she is most fertile.
    3. Sympto-thermal method: Combination of the basal body temperature method and the billings method to prevent pregnancy.
  1. Spermicides: Substances that Kill Sperm

A spermicide is a chemical product that comes in the form of a foam, jelly, or cream.[106] The purpose of a spermicide is to kill any sperm before it reaches the cervix. In order to increase the effectiveness of them, spermicides should be used with other barrier forms of birth control (condoms, diaphragms, cervical cap, etc.).

  1. Barrier methods: Preventing Sperm from Meeting Egg
    1. Male condoms: Thin sheaths made from lamb intestine, latex rubber, synthetic or polyurethane elastomers that fit over the penis and trap sperm.[48]Condoms are highly effective in preventing the transmission of STIs.
    2. Female condoms: Thin sheath or pouch that a woman wears during sex. It lines the vagina entirely and helps prevent STIs as well.[107]
    3. Diaphragm: A shallow, dome-shaped, silicone cup inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy.[108]
    4. Cervical cap: A cervical cap resembles a small thimble and is inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy
    5. Lea’s shield: Similar to the cervical cap this method is cup-shaped and made of silicone. It has a 1-way valve that allows the passage of cervical secretions.[48]
    6. Contraceptive sponge: A soft, disk-shaped device that is made of polyurethane foam that covers the cervix.[109]
  2. Intrauterine devices (IUD)

An IUD is a small t-shaped piece of plastic or metal that is placed in the uterus to prevent fertilization. There are 2 types: one is covered with copper, and the other releases the hormone progesterone.[110] IUDs have not been extremely popular in the United States. In the past, IUDs had a thread hanging outside of a woman’s body which easily spread bacteria causing pelvic inflammatory disease. Now, IUDs are very safe. They have polyethylene strings which are not as likely to cause infection.[48]

  1. Hormonal methods
    1. Oral contraception: Medications taken by women to prevent pregnancy. These pills may contain a combination of the hormones estrogen, progestin, or progestin alone. Combinations of estrogen and progestin prevent pregnancy by inhibiting the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).[111] Pills are taken for 21 days followed by a 7 day break when a woman menstruates. The pill is highly effective if taken every day at the same time.[48]
    2. Injectable contraception: A hormonal method for those who cannot remember to take the pill every day at the same time. Depo-Provera is an injectable medicine that prevents pregnancy for up to 3 months with each injection.[112] It contains progestin and works by preventing ovulation by inhibiting the release of LH and FSH.

Sexual attraction

Sexual attraction is an important aspect of the sexuality of the person being observed, as well as of the person observing. Each person determines the qualities that they find attractive, which vary from person to person. A person’s sexual orientation has a significant influence on which qualities they will find attractive. The qualities that people can find sexually attractive may depend on the physical quality, including both looks and movements of a person but can also be influenced by voice or smell as well as by individual preferences resulting from a variety of geneticpsychological, and cultural factors.

Creating a relationship

The Flirt, by Eugene de Blaas

People both consciously and subconsciously seek to attract others with whom they can form deeper relationships. This may be forcompanionship, for procreation, for an intimate relationship, besides other possible purposes. This involves interactive processes whereby people find and attract potential partners, and maintain a relationship. These processes, which involve attracting one or more partners, and maintaining sexual interest, can include:

Legal issues

There are many laws and social customs which prohibit, or in some way have an impact on sexual activities. These laws and customs vary from country to country, and have varied over time. They cover, for example, a prohibition to non-consensual sex, to sex outside of marriage, to sexual activity in public, besides many others. Many of these restrictions are non-controversial, but some have been the subject of public debate.

Most societies consider it a serious crime to force someone to engage in sexual acts or to engage in sexual activity with someone who does not consent. This is calledsexual assault, and if sexual penetration occurs it is called rape, the most serious kind of sexual assault. The details of this distinction may vary among different legal jurisdictions. Also, what constitutes effective consent in sexual matters varies from culture to culture and is frequently debated. Laws regulating the minimum age at which a person can consent to have sex (age of consent) are frequently the subject of debate, as is adolescent sexual behavior in general.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.definition-of.com/human%20sexuality
  2. ^ University of California, Santa Barbara’s SexInfo
  3. ^ Carlson, Neil R. and C. Donald Heth. “Psychology: the Science of Behaviour.” 4th Edition. Toronto: Pearson Canada Inc., 2007. 684.
  4. ^ Michael Jones Nature vs. Nurture Debates Over Sexuality (Change.org News)http://news.change.org/stories/nature-vs-nurture-debates-over-sexuality
  5. ^ Sophiemonster Human Sexuality and the Nature vs Nurture debate (Sex and Science) http://sexandscience.org/blog/?p=292
  6. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al aman ao ap aq “Human Sexuality Today” by Bruce M. King (ISBN# 978-0-13-604245-7)
  7. ^ “Sexual Strategies Theory: An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Mating” by David M. Buss and David P. Schmitt
  8. ^ “Using social learning theory to explain individual differences in human sexuality – The Use of Theory in Research and Scholarship on Sexuality” by Matthew Hogben and Donn Dyrnehttp://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_n1_v35/ai_20746724/pg_12/?tag=content;col1
  9. ^ Csongradi, C. (n.d.). A new look at an old debate. access excellence. retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.accessexcellence.org/LC/SER/BE/whata.php
  10. a b Boccadoro L., Carulli S., (2008) Il posto dell’amore negato. (The place of the denied love. Sexuality and secret psychopathologies – Abstract). Tecnoprint Editrice, Ancona. ISBN 978-88-95554-03-7
  11. ^ Deleuze and Guattari (1972) Anti-Oedipus pp. 322, 114–5
  12. a b c d e Crain, W. C. (1980). Theories of development: concepts and applications (fifth edition ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
  13. ^ http://www.newadvent.org/summa/5041.htm
  14. ^ http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3151.htm
  15. ^ http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3152.htm
  16. ^ http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3153.htm
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