Gender, Sex Ed

The Most Common Reasons For Sex And How They Differ Based On Gender And Age

April 13, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller

How many different reasons are there to have sex? At least 237, according to one study. However, that study was primarily based on young college students, which begs the question of how people’s sexual motivations might differ based on age. It’s also reasonable to wonder whether men and women experience similar or different changes in their reasons for having sex as they get older, too.

A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine offers some much-needed insight into these questions. This study is the subject of my latest column over at TONIC and it was based on a survey of nearly 4,700 adolescents and adults ranging in age from 13-83. These individuals were given a broad list of reasons for having sex and were asked to rate how often they’d had sex for each of those reasons.

Across all age and gender groups, three of the top four most common reasons for having sex were identical. They centered around having fun, feeling good, and wanting to experience pleasure. It wasn’t until further down the list that gender differences became apparent, which largely centered around women endorsing more emotional reasons for having sex and men endorsing more physical reasons (a finding that some researchers might interpret as evidence for evolved sex differences in mating, but others might interpret as evidence of a sexual double standard that penalizes women for wanting sex outside the confines of a committed relationship).

There were also some interesting age differences that emerged, with physical reasons for sex becoming less important for both men and women as they got older. Sexual satisfaction and the importance of sex in people’s lives also seemed to change as people aged, but not necessarily in the way that you might expect. To learn more about these age effects, check out the full article here.

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To learn more about this research, see: Wyverkens, E., Dewitte, M., Deschepper, E., Corneillie, J., Van der Bracht, L., Van Regenmortel, D., … & T’Sjoen, G. (2018). YSEX? A Replication Study in Different Age Groups. The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Image Source: 123RF/Anna Bizoń

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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