First off, let me say that we’re not advocating for or against the use of birth control pills. We used them, and when we decided we were done having kids we stopped using pills and selected a permanent method to prevent conception. The point of this post is simply to remind people that hormones (and medication) can have a significant effect on how you feel, think, and act — whether the hormones are produced by your own body or come in a pill.

Study 1: Birth control pills make your brain more masculine.

In recent years, scientists have started to realise that the brains of women on the pill look fundamentally different. Compared to women who are not taking hormones, some regions of their brains seem to be more typically ‘male’.

There are behavioural changes, too. Women on certain types of pill are not as good at coming up with words – something our gender are usually highly skilled at. On the other hand, they are better at mentally rotating objects, as is often the case in men. Finally, women on a different type of pill are better at recognising faces – something women are usually good at.

Study 2: Birth control pills change the shape of your brain.

In 2015, neuroscientists from the University of California, Los Angeles in the US took brain scans of 90 women who were either currently using the pill or not, and found that two key brain regions were thinner in pill users – the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex.

These two regions are involved in emotion regulation, decision-making and reward response, and the researchers believe that their findings could help explain why some women become anxious or depressed when taking the contraceptive pill.

And in 2010, a team from Austria also found that the contraceptive pill could change the shape of the brain regions associated with learning, memory and emotion regulation.

Study 3: Birth control pills affect your memory and critical thinking skills.

What’s more, new research suggests that oral contraceptive use doesn’t just reduce your risk of certain cancers, lighten your period, alleviate horrible cramps, clear your skin, and improve your mood (among other benefits).

It shows that women who take the pill or use other methods of hormonal contraceptive for more than 10 years may end up with better memories and critical thinking skills post-menopause, according to a study that looked at 830 women around age 60, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Study 4: No one knows if the effects of birth control pills on your brain are permanent or temporary.

The researchers affirm it is unknown whether the cortex would become thicker again if the women on birth control stopped taking the pill or whether it would remain the same. “Maybe you go off the pill and it persists for a week, and, by week two it is back to normal,” Petersen said, Braindecoder.com reported.

This study contradicts the results of a 2010 study published in the journal Brain Research, which found women on the pill showed larger gray matter volumes in the prefrontal cortex, pre- and postcentral gyri, the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri and temporal regions, compared to their non-pill counterparts. It was not determined whether increased gray matter translated into enhanced performance. Similar to the recent study, the findings remain inconclusive and warrant further research.

The point of sharing this information isn’t to make anyone worry. Birth control pills have been used for decades without serious problems for most women. However, it’s worth considering how your medication (or change in medication) may be affecting how you think, feel, and act. The same goes for men — we take medication and have hormonal cycles too!

Other people aren’t having as much sex as you may think.

The numbers here are for men and women between 18 and 29, and the “reality” number is self-reported, so take it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, you can see that we tend to wildly overestimate how much sex other people are having compared to ourselves.

Historically, married people have had a lot more sex than single people.

To look at the statistics about marriage and sex, you wouldn’t even know that there was an issue to begin with. “Studies have found that married people have more sex than single people, and they also have more varied sex,” says sexual health expert and best-selling author Dr. Laura Berman, who hosts “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman” on OWN. ”Oral sex is also more common among married people.”

One of the most comprehensive studies on the subject, which was released in 2010 by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, confirmed this, compiling statistics on sexual attitudes and habits of 5,865 people between ages 14 and 94. An average of 61 percent of singles reported that they hadn’t had sex within the past year, compared with 18 percent of married people. Looking specifically at those between the ages of 25 and 59, 25 percent of married people reported that they were still having sex two to three times per week versus less than five percent of singles.

But sadly, some recent studies indicate that single people might actually be having more sex than married people now — primarily because married people are having far less sex than they used to.

Back in the early 1990s, the average American had sex about 60 to 62 times per year, but that number dropped to less than 53 times per year by 2014. Among married couples specifically, the drop was even more dramatic — from about 73 times per year in 1990 to 55 in 2014. This actually brings the sex lives married couples below people who’ve never been married, who have sex about 59 times per year as of 2014.

But forget about everyone else… what about you and your spouse? Sexy Corte and I advocate making a habit of daily sex — yes, every day! Sometimes you miss, but those misses should be the exception, not the rule. Tell us how you and your spouse fare in the comments.

The “husbands” tag will lead you to several posts intended to help husbands be more attractive to their wives, including topics like clothes, muscles, hygiene, and improving her orgasms. Today I’m going to share a list of 19 ways for a man to be more attractive — according to science! I’m not going to talk about each one, because some of them are dumb or don’t apply in a marriage. Here it goes…

We’ve written about your wife’s indicators of interest before. A wife usually expresses her interest in sex more subtly than her husband, so don’t miss the cues!

“First the woman smiles at her admirer and lifts her eyebrows in a swift, jerky motion as she opens her eyes wide to gaze at him. Then she drops her eyelids, tilts her head down and to the side, and looks away. Frequently she also covers her face with her hands, giggling nervously as she retreats behind her palms.”

Grow a beard, it will make you look more dominant and aggressive.

In a 2013 study from researchers at the University of New South Wales, researchers had 177 heterosexual men and 351 heterosexual women look at images of 10 men in one of four conditions: clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, or full beard. Participants rated the men pictured on several traits, including attractiveness.

That women said the most attractive beard length was heavy stubble.

“Facial hair correlates not only with maturity and masculinity, but also with dominance and aggression,” write authors Barnaby J. Dixson and Robert C. Brooks.

“An intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive,” they add.

Build some muscle. Here the phrase “short-term relationships” basically means that the woman wants to bang.

In a 2007 study from University of California, Los Angeles, 286 women looked at pictures of shirtless men and indicated which ones seemed like they would make the best long- and short-term partners.

Results showed that women were more likely to want short-term relationships with the guys who had big muscles.

Wear strong colors, like red.

A 2010 cross-cultural study — with participants from China, England, Germany, and the US — found that women are most attracted to men wearing red.

In one experiment from the study, 55 female undergrads looked at a color photo of a man in either a red or green shirt, and then rated the man’s attractiveness.

Sure enough, the man was rated significantly more attractive when he was wearing a red shirt. The results were similar when researchers compared the red shirt to other color shirts as well.

Interestingly, participants generally weren’t aware that the man’s clothing color was influencing their perceptions of his attractiveness.

Be funny.

Multiple studies indicate that women are more attracted to men who can make them laugh. Interestingly though, men generally aren’t more attracted to women who can make them laugh.

Take “hunter-gatherer” risks.

A 2014 study led by researchers at the University of Alaska at Anchorage found that women are attracted to men who take what the researchers call “hunter-gatherer risks.”

More than 230 undergrads filled out questionnaires about how attractive they would find a partner who engaged in certain risky behaviors, as opposed to a partner who engaged in low- or no-risk behaviors.

Hunter-gatherer risks included mountain biking, deep-sea scuba diving, and extreme rollerblading. “Modern” risks included plagiarizing an academic paper, casually handling chemicals in a lab, and not updating the virus-protection software on your computer.

Low- and no-risk behaviors included biking along paved paths and carefully handling chemicals in a chemistry-lab class.

Results showed that women said they would be more attracted to men who engaged in hunter-gatherer risks — the kinds that were similar to risks faced by ancestral humans. Women said they would be less attracted to men who engaged in modern risks, which might seem just plain dumb.

Eat garlic!

In one study, eight men ate a slice of bread with cheese and 12 grams of fresh garlic; another eight ate bread and cheese without any garlic. For the next 12 hours, the men wore cotton pads under their armpits and were instructed not to use any deodorants or fragrances.

The following day, all the men returned to the lab, where 40 women sniffed the pads and rated the odor on pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity, and intensity. Results showed that the garlic group was rated more pleasant and attractive and less masculine and intense.

And finally, looking proud is better than looking happy.

In one experiment included in the study, researchers had nearly 900 North American adults look at photos of opposite-sex individuals online.

The researchers were specifically comparing people’s perceptions of expressions of pride, happiness, shame, and neutrality (other people had already identified the emotion behind the expression in the photo). For women evaluating men, the most appealing expression was pride, and the least appealing was happiness.

It’s important to note that the features and behaviors listed above generally do not make a woman more attractive to a man. We’re very different creatures.

Are you ever confused by your own sexual arousal? By what turns you on and when? Or… maybe you’re confused by your spouse. Why doesn’t she ever initiate sex? Why is he always so turned on? The “he” and “she” there are stereotypical — sometimes it goes the other way — but scientists have identified two different pathways to arousal that map onto these common perceptions. The two polarities are called “spontaneous desire” and “responsive desire”, and they lead to very different behavior that can confuse you and your spouse if you don’t recognize what’s happening.

Men typically (but not always) exhibit spontaneous desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that isn’t triggered by any obvious external factors. “Hey, I want to have sex!” Spontaneous desire motivates the initiation of sexual behavior. Spontaneous desire leads you to ask for a date, lean in for a kiss, test boundaries for touching, escalate a physical encounter, try new things, and risk rejection. These behaviors can be confusing for the recipient, because it may seem like the sexual behavior is coming out of nowhere — which it is. It’s spontaneous. The recipient of these behaviors may ask themselves things like:

  • “Why is he touching me now?”
  • Why does he want to do that?
  • “Why is he so persistent?”
  • “Again?”
  • “Does he think about anything besides sex?”

Women typically (but not always) exhibit responsive desire. This polarity manifests as sexual desire that grows after sexual behavior has started. “Oh, that feels good… I guess I am in the mood!” A person with responsive desire may seem to have a low libido because she doesn’t often initiate sex, and it can take some effort on her part to “get into the mood”. What’s especially interesting is that women often don’t even know when they’re aroused at first.

Men’s subjective ratings of arousal were in agreement with their body’s level of sexual arousal about 66 percent of the time, while women’s were in line only about 26 percent of the time.

“The general pattern that I have seen in my laboratory is that women experience a genital response but do not report feeling sexually aroused,” Chivers told LiveScience.

Women’s bodies often get aroused before their minds do. Crazy, huh? With responsive desire, sexual arousal will follow physical or mental sexual stimulation, and that stimulation usually comes from a husband who is trying to initiate sex. Without understanding this process, a husband may think things like:

  • “Why doesn’t she ever initiate sex?”
  • “I’ll wait for her to initiate this time.”
  • “Why do I have to try so hard to turn her on?”
  • “Isn’t she attracted to me? Doesn’t she want me?”
  • “Why doesn’t she suggest something new?”

Of course, there are no absolutes in life. Some men are more responsive, and some women are more spontaneous. What’s more, a person’s desire polarity may vary over time — especially for women, as their hormones change throughout their menstrual cycles.

Now that you know about spontaneous and responsive desire, what action can you take?

If you and your spouse are both spontaneous… well, you’re probably having sex all the time. Congrats!

If you are spontaneous and your spouse is responsive:

  • Don’t judge your responsive spouse for not being spontaneous.
  • Learn how to elicit sexual response from your spouse and recognize when she is getting turned on.
  • Be enthusiastic and persistent with initiation; don’t get frustrated that you initiate most of the time.

If you are responsive and your spouse is spontaneous:

  • Don’t judge your spontaneous spouse for not being responsive.
  • When your spontaneous spouse initiates sex, don’t immediately see it as an annoyance or distraction! Give your mind a body a chance to respond.
  • Learn to recognize your own arousal when your mind and body respond to your spouse’s initiation. It may not be obvious.

If you and your spouse are both responsive, you’re going to need to be extra intentional. Try one of our sex games or the random foreplay generator to initiate sex when you’ve got time, even if neither of you is particularly in the mood. Once you get started, you can both respond to the heat generated by the game!

Do you have any experiences to share? Any advice? Leave a comment!

Do you want to have more and better sex? Get plenty of sleep.

According to a large new study, women over age 50 who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are less likely to report being sexually active than their peers who sleep more, a problem that increases with age.

Sleep disorders can also interfere with sex. Research suggests that men with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition marked by snoring and breathing difficulties, have decreased levels of sexual activity, possibly because they produce lower amounts of testosterone. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, which may be related to sexual dysfunction.

But the reverse appears to be true, too: Another recent study that looked at sleep and sex in college students found that for those in romantic relationships, every extra hour they slept corresponded to higher sexual desire, greater vaginal lubrication and a 14% increase in the chances of getting frisky the next day. That’s probably because a good night’s sleep leaves us feeling refreshed, relaxed and energetic — all important for feeling sexy.

Sleep is an important component of staying healthy, along with exercise, managing your weight, and maintaining good hygiene. For (the many) husbands who write to us asking for advice on strengthening their wives’ libidos, helping her get more sleep seems like a great first step.

And… do you want more and better sleep? Have plenty of sex!

The reasons are largely chemical in nature. After orgasm, our bodies release significant amounts of the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, which lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in deep relaxation.

Sex also has gender-specific benefits. “For women, estrogen levels increase after sex, which can enhance a woman’s REM cycle for a deeper sleep. In men, the hormone prolactin is secreted after orgasm and has been tied to sleepiness,” explained licensed psychologist Rachel Needle, co-director of the Modern Sex Therapy Institutes.

Yeah, yeah — there’s just too much to do. But you need to make time for your health and for your spouse. Go to bed early tonight together!

We hope that you all had a great Christmas and New Year! The holiday season is often stressful, but did you know that it’s also the catalyst for a yearly September baby boom?

It’s often wryly observed that birth rates peak in September, with many studies citing seasonal changes in human biology to explain this post-holiday “baby boom.” But new research from scientists at Indiana University and the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal finds that spikes in pregnancies are actually rooted in society, not biology.

“We observe that Christmas and Eid-Al-Fitr are characterized by distinct collective moods that correlate with increased fertility,” Rocha said. “Perhaps people feel a greater motivation to grow their families during holidays when the emphasis is on love and gift-giving to children. The Christmas season is also associated with stories about the baby Jesus and holy family, which may put people in a loving, happy, ‘family mood.'”

Sexy Corte and I have been on a roll this holiday season — I hate to brag, but during vacation we had sex seven times in 72 hours! She actually had to beg off from having another orgasm because her legs were getting sore. (Ok, so maybe I like to brag a little.) We’re not having any more babies, but being in close proximity for days at a time still seems to rev our engines. (It’s also worth noting that we had a pretty good fight, too — which is also pretty common for couples over the holidays)

I’m sure we weren’t the only ones having great sex over the holidays — what about you? Any sexual accomplishments you’d like to brag about? You can’t share with your “real friends”, but you can share with your pseudonymous internet buddies!

Proverbs 15:16 says: “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.”

Psalm 127:2 says: “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

Proverbs 5:18-19 says: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”

Maybe the Bible is on to something! Scientists have recently discovered that sleep and sex make you happier than wealth!

The new happiness index, developed by Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research, and commissioned by Sainsbury’s, has found that sex and sleep are the two things that have the strongest association with a person’s happiness and wellbeing – well above money. Researchers found that while upping your income (even if you quadruple it) causes very little increase to your happiness, being well-rested and well-sexed have a significant impact on how joyful you feel. The study involved polling 8,250 Britons, finding that the average person has a Living Well score of 62.2.

Those who get the most sleep were found the score 15 points higher on the index than those who struggle with sleep, while people who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives scored seven points lower than those who said they’re very satisfied. To be clear – very satisfied doesn’t mean these people are having loads of sex. It just means they’re very happy with the quality and frequency of the sex they’re having. Increasing your household income from £12,500 to £50,000, meanwhile, results in an increase of only two points.

So quit working late, leave the chores for later, and go to bed with your spouse!

Hannah Smothers at Cosmo is mad at husbands who enjoy giving orgasms to their wives.

It’s not enough that men are already having more orgasms than women. To make matters worse, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research found — aside from deriving pleasure from their own orgasms, obviously — men also derive a specific sort of masculine pleasure from making female partners orgasm. The researchers in the study, Sara Chadwick and Sari van Anders, refer to this incredibly predictable phenomenon as a “masculinity achievement.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I imagine a “masculinity achievement” looks something like Super Mario punching a coin out of one of those floating boxes in the video game.

“Despite increasing focus on women’s orgasms, research indicated that the increased attention to women’s orgasms may also serve men’s sexuality, complicating conceptualizations of women’s orgasms as women-centric,” researchers wrote.

I’m glad that scientists are investigating such esoteric topics! I can confirm that this husband really enjoys pleasuring his wife, even if it complicates the conceptualization of her orgasm. I feel like orgasms are something we experience together, rather than being “centric” on just one of us.

What about the idea of “giving” an orgasm to your spouse?

In a separate statement from Chadwick and van Anders, they explained why it’s a bad thing for men to gain masculinity points for bringing female partners to orgasm. “One reason is that it might pressure some heterosexual men to feel like they have to ‘give’ women orgasms, as if orgasm is something men pulled out of a hat and presented to women,” they wrote. “This ties into cultural ideas of women as passive recipients of whatever men give them.”

I completely agree that as a husband it feels incredibly empowering to give my wife an orgasm, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Most of the time that Sexy Corte orgasms we’re using a vibrator and she’s on top and in control of the movement. This is the easiest way for her to reach orgasm, and since we have more lust than time we often aim for efficiency. This position is good for me and I enjoy sharing in the pleasure of her orgasm, but it’s not the same as when I give her an orgasm while I’m in a more dominant role. That is a sort of “achievement”, but it’s also very rewarding to know that the woman I love and adore can receive such pleasure from me.

The joy of giving is the reward for assuming the dominant role and doing most of the work in a sexual encounter. It takes work to give pleasure, whether that’s simply an orgasm or a whole sexual experience like trivia night, shibari rope bondage, or poetry night. It takes care and effort to prepare questions, learn how to tie knots, or write poetry, and the reward for that effort is the joy you get from giving to the one you love.

Furthermore, giving pleasure isn’t a one-way street as Cosmo implies. A wife can also find it joyful and rewarding to give pleasure to her husband, and a husband can appreciate the time and effort involved and take joy in the wife who loves him. When Sexy Corte performs oral sex or cleans the ceiling fan it hits me right in my primary love language (Acts of Service, which may also be why I enjoy giving so much).

Far from being harmful, joyfully giving pleasure to your spouse will enhance intimacy and deepen the love and commitment you have for each other. Each spouse can both give and receive pleasure, and your sex life and marriage will be better for it.

How do you approach giving and receiving in your marriage? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

New research shows that Americans are having less sex than 20 years ago and suggests that the decline might be due in part to improvements in electronic diversions like Facebook and Netflix.

American adults had less sex in the early 2010s than they did in the 1990s, to the tune of nine fewer times a year, according to new research published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. (That’s a drop from a yearly average in the low 60s, to one in the low 50s.)

This slump holds true regardless of gender, age, race, work or marital status, although it’s most precipitous for American who were married or living with a romantic partner, a group that reported having sex 16 fewer times per year in the early 2010s when compared to the early 2000s.

[…] Twenge has another theory on why we’re getting frisky less frequently: technology. More specifically, the rise of smartphones and streaming services, which began gaining real traction in the late 2000s.

“Entertainment is more entertaining now, it’s more on demand — you can access it anytime you want,” she says. “DVRs became more common right around that time, too.” In other words, we might be too busy binge watching shows, playing video games, and Snapchatting our friends to bother having sex.

Basically the theory is that electronics are out-competing you for your spouse’s attention. No one likes competition, but you can be more interesting than the internet if you’re intentional about it. In addition to the tips in that post (go read it!), here are some ideas for protecting your marriage (and family) from excessive electronic distraction.

  • No television in the sex room! Televisions are ubiquitous these days, but I guarantee that if you have one in your master bedroom it is reducing the frequency of sex. Do you doubt me? Haven’t you ever laid in bed, barely able to keep your eyes open, while trying to finish a show before you pass out? I bet you didn’t have sex after that, even if you were both frisky when you got in bed. Your master bedroom should be your sex room, and you should protect it as such.
  • Keep your computers in public places. This goes especially for your kids — computers that are in public parts of the house (as opposed to bedrooms) are much less likely to be abused. If you have a home office (like we do), try to stay away from it when you’re not working so that you aren’t pulled away from your family time. If your computer is in a public part of the house, then even when you have to use the computer at least you can stay near your family instead of completely disengaging.
  • Limit access to electronics by time and place. We try very hard to limit our use of electronics to specific times and places. The kids only watch television during quiet time. Phones and tablets are not allowed at the table during meals. Mobile devices with full internet access are not allowed in the kids’ bedrooms. Sexy Corte and I only watch Netflix in the living room, usually after we have sex upstairs. It’s important to create consistent boundaries that work for your family, and these will probably change over time as your kids get older. The electronic boundaries in your marriage need to protect your relationship and your sex life — find shows and games that you can enjoy together, and have sex first!
  • Shared access. Shared devices are much less likely to be abused than private devices. Adults will probably have their “own” phones, but in our family we know each others’ pass-codes and can access all the devices — and the same goes for email, Facebook, or whatever. We use LastPass to store our passwords, which is great for security and convenience and also ensures that Sexy Corte and I can get access to whatever accounts we need. (Ensuring access would also be especially important if one of us were to become incapacitated or worse.)
  • Don’t get caught in the web. Learn to recognize when you’re mindlessly surfing the web without purpose and make yourself stop. I’m most susceptible to this trap when I’ve had caffeine too close to bedtime — I’ll just lay in bed, bleary-eyed, clicking on links when I should be sleeping. It’s hard to stop because the internet is addictive, but when you learn to recognize what you’re doing you can apply your willpower to put the device down.

Got any tips to share? How do you and your spouse protect your marriage from Facebook and Netflix? Leave a comment!

Yet another post about how science indicates that sex is good for you! In this case, a long-term study followed adult men for 18 years and found that frequent ejaculation reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

It found that men ages 20 to 29 who ejaculated 21 times or more each month were 19 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those who ejaculated less often, between 4 and 7 times per month.

And it wasn’t just young guys who saw the benefit: Men 40 to 49 who ejaculated at least 21 times per month reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer by 22 percent.

Won’t be having sex 21 times this month? Don’t worry: The study showed a dose-dependent relationship with ejaculation and prostate cancer risk, meaning that the more you do it, the more your risk decreases, she says.

So even ejaculating just a few more times each month can likely bring some benefits to your prostate.

Twenty-one times a month means having sex about five times a week on average, which is more than most married couples. However, if you follow our steps to make sex a daily habit you can at least improve your batting average. If you have a family history of prostate cancer this can be even more important.

And wives, don’t do it just for your husbands — check out some of these links to learn about how sex is good for women’s health:

Frequent sex with your spouse is as important for your health as eating right and exercising.