5 Things Science Teaches Us About Sexuality

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
It's just a fact: Sex isn't always easy. Luckily, Emily Nagoski, PhD, author of the recently-released book Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, took to Reddit for an enlightening AMA on the topic. Here are few of her science-backed tidbits that can help everyone have a better time in bed:

1. What's the biggest misconception about women's sexuality?
"That sexual difficulties are about a lack of sexy stimulation in a person's life. Like, lingerie and porn will fix a flagging sexual connection. Much more often, difficulties are caused by too much stuff 'hitting the brakes' — stress, relationship issues, and, ironically, worries about your sex life. (See 'dual control model'). Sometimes, the sexiest thing a person can do for their partner...is the dishes. And, that's true for everyone, regardless of gender or genitals."

2. What are your thoughts on asexuality?
"My thoughts are the research: It's about 1% of people, and they tend to have less-sensitive sexual 'accelerators' than other folks. Outside the research, I think people need to calm the fuck down and be just as welcoming of people who identify as asexual as they are about people who identify as gay or lesbian. While we're at it, I think people need to calm the fuck down about sexual orientation. People are all different from each other. No one is 'wrong,' as long as there's full consent from everyone involved."

3. Age-old question: Does size matter?
"Nah. If anything, it's width that matters. But, even that hardly [matters] at all."

4. What's the most interesting thing you learned about sexuality while working on your book?
"That sex isn't a 'drive.' We use this phrase 'sex drive' all the time, but it turns out it's not a drive. Hunger is a drive; you have an uncomfortable internal feeling that pushes you out into the world. Sexual desire is an 'incentive motivation system,' more like curiosity than hunger. An attractive external stimulus pulls you out into the world. That basic idea transforms every assumption we have about what healthy sexual desire looks like.

"[But,] it can sometimes feel like a drive, because of a thing called the discrepancy-reducing feedback loop and criterion velocity."

5. How is pornography influencing modern couples' sexual lives
"There’s hardly any research on this, particularly as it influences couples. In one study, it was found that porn consumption is correlated with lower sexual satisfaction. But, of course, it will vary a great deal from couple to couple. I know lots of couples for whom porn consumption is a fun part of their sexual connection."
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