Together, the data imply that the post-pandemic cityscape may be less sexy than the countryside.Photograph by Tero Vesalainen / ShutterstockThe pandemic is making its way into every corner of our lives—even the bedroom. While many parts of the world gradually return to normal, the United States still wrestles with the fallout of a mismanaged response to the new coronavirus. As 20 million Americans collect unemployment and parents face down the question of what fall will look like if schools don’t reopen—or if they do—it’s been difficult to strike an optimistic note about the accelerated future made manifest by COVID-19. A new data point on the horizon of What. Is. Happening? comes from the Kinsey institute, which has been providing Americans with analysis of our sexual proclivities for more than 75 years. Despite initial reports that lockdowns were giving folks some much needed time for sexual self-care, a recent analysis by the Kinsey Institute showed that “widespread social restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have significantly disrupted sexual routines and the overall quality of people’s sex lives.” Roughly 43 percent of the study’s 1,550 respondents said that they had experienced a significant decrease in sexual frequency during lockdown relative the previous year. Interestingly, a small group of respondents, some 13 percent, reported an improvement in their post-lockdown sex lives. To determine who these people were, Justin Lehmiller, Kinsey Fellow and lead author of the original study in the journal Leisure Sciences, conducted a secondary analysis of the data. From the background questions included with the survey that established things like demographics, perceived risk from the pandemic, and political orientation, he determined that self-identified conservatives accounted for the bulk of the satisfied population.It’s the kind of experience that makes one yearn for a simple life. Lehmiller isn’t that shocked by the results. Reached by phone, he suggested that since “we know there are differences in social distancing and perceived threat of the virus, it makes intuitive sense that conservatives are having more sex than their liberal counterparts.” A more relaxed perspective on the severity of the pandemic may prevent the increased cortisol levels that have been shown to inhibit sexual desire. One interesting subtext of the data, likely hidden in a still-pending zip-code analysis, suggests it’s those living in the cities that are experiencing the brunt of the sexual downturn. A cursory glance at geographic distribution of party affiliation in the U.S. clearly shows that today’s conservatives are found everywhere except city centers. While there are exceptions to the liberal-urban/conservative-rural divide, for instance Vermont or Staten Island, the trend persists. Alongside their U.S. counterparts, predominantly rural-dwelling British conservatives also report increased sexual satisfaction. Together, the data imply that the post-pandemic cityscape may be less sexy than the countryside. Like Lehmiller suggested, cityside liberals may be taking contact restrictions more seriously than their rural, conservative counterparts. The downside of this? It may be that self-isolating urbanites are running up against biochemical limitations of their responsible choices.Solo play just isn’t as satisfying as partnered activities, and could be driving urban decreases in sexual activity. A study from Scotland’s University of Paisley found that partnered sex releases 400 percent more prolactin, the neurohormone responsible for feelings of sexual satiety, than does masturbation. This may explain the Kinsey finding that “generally, only partnered activities were linked to improvements.” It’s the kind of experience that makes one yearn for a simple life.But while some city dwellers are dreaming of exchanging a fifth floor walkup for a suburban townhouse, plenty of others are turning to what they know best—technology. Although solo activities haven’t been as satisfying in the past, the willingness of urban dwellers to adopt new technologies may not keep things that way for much longer because sextech, a $30 billion industry of toys, apps, robots, and virtual reality is poised for its moment in the sunroom. Bryony Cole, a consultant for the industry and host of the Future of Sex podcast, emphasizes that she’s seen an uptick in creative approaches to making the most of lockdowns. Online group chats are “replacing the bar or a party as a pick-up zone, and the emergence of online sex parties and mixers is allowing people to dip their toes into worlds they may have been hesitant to explore in the physical realm.” The normalization of new kinds of online interactions may still allow the sex lives of city slickers to rebound.Whether virtual interactions are able to recapitulate the neurohormonal benefits of partnered sex remains to be determined. As with the rest of the topsy-turvy conditions brought on by the pandemic, it seems that the future of American sexuality is volatile and hard to predict. One thing that seems certain is something different is coming soon.Michael Shilo DeLay and Anastasia Bendebury are biologists and co-creators of the science blog, Demystifying Science. 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More adults in the U.S. are going without sex for a year or more, and those...More adults in the U.S. are going without sex for a year or more, and those who are having sex are having it less frequently than they did 20 years ago.
New research presented at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality annual conference found the...New research presented at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality annual conference found the most people have fantasized about being in an open relationship at least once before. Just one-third of people have actually been in a polyamorous relationship, according to the research survey. People who acted on their open-relationship fantasies said it was a positive experience. Visit Insider's homepage for more. If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to be in an open relationship, you're not alone. According to new research presented at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality annual conference, the majority of people have fantasized about being in a consensual, non-monogamous relationship, otherwise known as an open or polyamorous relationship, at least once before even though just one-third of people have actually been in a polyamorous relationship. Justin J. Lehmiller, lead study author and a sex researcher at The Kinsey Institute, asked 2,982 people to complete a survey about their sexual fantasies where they answered questions about their personalities, demographic backgrounds, sexual fantasies relating to polyamory, and actual experiences with polyamory. The study included a pool of which 40% self-identified as female, 56% as male, and 4% non-binary. After collecting results, Lehmiller found that 30% of the survey respondents said being in an open relationship was their biggest sexual fantasy and 81% said they fantasized about being in an open relationship at least once before. People who acted on their open-relationship fantasies said it was a positive experience Some people who said open relationships topped their list of sexual fantasies acted on that interest, but it wasn't common: only 20% of these people ended up having some sort of open relationship even though 84% of them reported having a desire to act on their top fantasy. But 70% of people who ended up acting on their open-relationship fantasies said it paid off because they had a positive experience overall. Of this group, 93% also said acting on their open-relationship fantasy exceeded their expectations and 61% said polyamory improved their existing relationship. A previous study that was published in April in the journal Social Psychology also found that open relationships add positive aspects to participants' lives. That could be because having more partners allows a person to be more satisfied in various areas, like being nurtured and sexually pleasured at the same time, because different partners can offer different things. Read more: 9 people in open marriages reveal what their relationships are actually like 7 celebrity couples who have gotten real about open relationships I've been with my spouse for 5 years, but I'm interested in an open marriage. How do I tell my partner, who also has zero experience with polyamory? Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A podiatrist explains heel spurs, the medical condition Trump said earned him a medical deferment from Vietnam
Only 25% of women report consistently orgasming from penetrative sex. According to the results of a...Only 25% of women report consistently orgasming from penetrative sex. According to the results of a new study, the biggest reason seems to be that they can't quiet their minds in order to relax and enjoy the pleasure. Taking time to quiet your mind and get into the present moment before sex could help you achieve orgasm more often. Visit Insider's homepage for more. Considering the number of women who have sex regularly, the number of orgasms they report having is shockingly low. In fact, only 25% of women reported consistently orgasming from penetrative sex, according to sex researcher Elisabeth A. Lloyd's book "The Case of the Female Orgasm." A new study, presented today at the annual meeting for The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, looked into the reasons why women aren't orgasming as often as their male counterparts, and found a common reason is women have trouble staying focused on the moment during sex. To determine this, study author and Finnish sociologist and sexologist Osmo Kontula surveyed 7,000 women and 1,000 men in 2018 about how often they experienced orgasms, whether they believe it's easier or harder for themselves to orgasm than other people, and why they believed they had trouble reaching climax. According to the survey results, the majority of women reported having trouble reaching climax because they couldn't quiet their minds in order to relax and enjoy the pleasure. Other reasons included low self-esteem, medication side effects, not enough clitoral stimulation, and feeling they were incompatible with their partner. There are ways to increase your chances of orgasming during partnered sex The brain plays a key role in sexual response and orgasm, so it makes sense the women who had difficulty often said it was related to an inability to focus solely on sex. Taking time to quiet your mind and get into the present moment before sex could help you achieve orgasm more often. "Sometimes I tell my clients to take five minutes to themselves and do something that doesn't involve any sort of electronics," sex therapist Vanessa Marin previously told Insider. "Focus on your breathing, maybe do a little meditation, maybe start fantasizing, do a little yoga or stretching, stuff like that." Marin also suggested taking a relaxing shower before sex, letting yourself fantasize about your sexual turn-ons, or spending time cuddling and talking intimately with your partner to help get your mind off stress and into the bedroom. Since the study results were self-reported, it's possible women's self-perceptions about why they couldn't orgasm were incorrect and there's another underlying problem like with medication side effects or partner incompatibility. In these cases, seeking help from a therapist or other expert could help pinpoint the real reason orgasm is difficult. Read more: People are trying to diagnose their gonorrhea and chlamydia on Reddit, and doctors worry it's making outbreaks worse Douching monthly could add a chemical found in cigarette smoke and rubber to your blood My partner won't have sex until marriage, but I'm very sexual. Should I have an affair to get it out of my system? Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.