We’ve written about shaving for husbands and wives before, and the practice is increasingly seen as “the new normal”, especially for women. However, despite what most women seem to think, the benefits are primarily sexual, not hygienic.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology on Wednesday confirmed just how widespread the practice is. Sixty-two percent of a nationally representative sample of 3,316 women said they opted for complete removal of their pubic hair; 84 percent reported some grooming.

But while previous research showed that women groom to facilitate sexual activity, this survey found the overwhelming majority said they did so for hygiene.

That perception troubled researchers. “Many women think they are dirty and unclean if they haven’t groomed,” said Dr. Tami S. Rowen, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the lead author of the study.

Of course, what a person means by hygiene may not line up with the medical definition. Hair “down there” really gets in the way of oral sex — it’s distracting, especially when it tickles your nose or gets stuck in your teeth.

Your mileage may vary, but we enjoy the intense, sensual smoothness of bare skin.

A new study presents data suggesting that husbands underestimate their wives’ sexual desire.

In 3 dyadic studies, we provide evidence that men in established romantic relationships err in the direction of the opposite bias and underperceive their romantic partner’s sexual desire. We also demonstrate that this underperception bias is functional (particularly for men) in that it is associated with their partner feeling more satisfied and committed to the relationship. In addition, people are particularly likely to underperceive their partner’s desire on days when they are motivated to avoid sexual rejection, and men’s underperception bias is, in part, accounted for by men’s higher general levels of sexual desire than women.

Translation: it’s true that a wife often has a lower sex drive than her husband, however, the husband still frequently underestimates his wife’s sexual interest because he doesn’t enjoy having a sexual advance rejected.

XX Factor puts it this way:

The researchers found that, on a regular basis, men significantly underperceived the degree of their female partners’ sexual desire, while women consistently made accurate judgments about how much their male partners wanted sex. Among diary-keeping couples, on days when men underestimated their female partners’ libido, the women showed higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

Basically, when a wife has high relationship satisfaction she wants more sex — but apparently husbands aren’t good at noticing when their wives have high satisfaction. Here are some ideas:

  • Wife: make sure your husband knows when you’re happy with the state of your relationship! He probably already knows when you aren’t happy, but tell him when you are.
  • Husband: when your wife expresses affection and happiness with you, consider that an opportunity to initiate.

This doesn’t seem complicated, but apparently a lot of us are missing the obvious.

Several recent studies show that up to 30% of men admit to faking an orgasm with their current partner. The potential for a woman to “fake it” is a common trope, but it’s often ignored that men can fake it, too.

Previous studies have shown that men’s rationales for feigning orgasm are not so different from the reasons why women play pretend in bed. Both have reported that they fake because they’re intoxicated, to arouse their partner, and to end sex sooner; the most common reason among both genders is preserving partners’ feelings. This new survey indicates that men who pretend to orgasm because they want to avoid having a talk about their sexual needs are less likely to be satisfied in their relationship and in bed. The study’s authors say these men “might be contributing to [their] own low desire and satisfaction by reinforcing unsatisfying sexual activity by feigning orgasm rather than communicating [their] sexual needs and desires.”

But the root cause of this problem—faked orgasms as sub-ins for honest conversations about sexual desires—lie in gender norms that compel men to strive for unrealistic benchmarks of sexual performance. “The image is that men are always up for sex, which makes you feel under pressure to perform even when you don’t want to,” Harvard urologist Abraham Morgentaler said of men’s reasons for faking.

Those same improbable expectations have given rise to women’s pretend orgasms, too. The authors of a 2010 study that found up to 80 percent of women faked orgasms wrote that women often do so “because their men are so goal-directed they won’t stop until a woman climaxes.” Our social construction of sexual pleasure has pegged men’s orgasms as simple—inevitable, even—and women’s orgasms as complicated reflections of their male partner’s sexual abilities. The authors of the new Canadian survey write that these reductive ideals may encourage men to feign orgasm to “appear normal” and women to fake it so their partners’ egos don’t crumble.

As I bolded above, Morgentaler is right: faked orgasms are a poor substitute for honest conversation. For both husbands and wives, it’s important to be honest about our needs and desires. We’ve written a lot here about the importance of sexual enthusiasm and responsiveness, so I suppose it’s important to reiterate the importance of genuine vulnerability.

No matter how great your sex life is with your spouse, not every sexual encounter will go perfectly. Our bodies aren’t machines: sometimes the stars don’t quite align for orgasm, even for men. Don’t be ashamed, be honest. Sometimes there’s some circumstance about the situation that can be fixed or avoided in the future, but sometimes there’s no real explanation — let it go. Try again later!

If your sex life with your spouse is generally good but you have a few misfires, don’t sweat it, that’s normal. If the misfires and frustration begin to overwhelm the successful encounters, then consider talking to your doctor or a Christian counselor who has experience dealing with sexual issues. In either case, honesty is the best policy. Faking an orgasm might spare you and your spouse some immediate embarrassment, but it won’t help in the long run.

Share your thoughts in the comments!

A new study says that maintaining an active sex life is good for the health of your brain.

Older guys who get laid regularly have better “brain health” and are less likely to lose memory, according to the Coventry University study.

Men ages 50 to 89 with active sex lives scored 23 percent higher on cognitive word tests and 3 percent higher on numbers puzzles, according to the researchers, who quizzed 6,800 people across England.

Women who had more sex scored better on the word test but not the numbers test.

The improvement for men on the numbers test was pretty small (only 3%) so that result is questionable. It’s safe to say that more sex is good for the brains of both men and women (though correlation does not equal causation). So, if you want to protect your brain, maintain your ability to recall lists of words, and boost your immune system, I recommend that you have frequent sex.

Here’s an interesting study that looked at the most comfortable sexual positions for people with back pain. The most common advice that physicians give is for couples to use the spooning position to avoid back pain, but that seems to be wrong.

“I’m assuming because people lay on their side, someone thought the spine would be supported and this was good for people, but it turned out not to be true,” [Professor Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, Ontario] says.

For men with that particular back pain trigger, the study suggested ‘doggy-style’ sex was far less likely to aggravate the back problem.

In general, the researchers found that the person on top—whether male or female—is most responsible for motion.

For individuals with back pain triggered by movement, the researchers suggested there was no position that would avoid pain, and advised instead that they should try to move more using their hips than their back.

“The more the hinging takes place at their hip, the less the hinging takes place in their spine, the better off [their back is],” McGill says.

Basically, the person with the back pain should be in the top/active position, so that they can control the movement and avoid painful or aggravating motions. Check out our post about doggy style for some ideas!

The study also had some observations about orgasm strength. It’s not your imagination, some orgasms are stronger than others.

Researchers were also able to measure the impact of orgasm on the body, which yielded some surprises.

“I had no idea of the range; how it’s basically a non-event in some people, through to really substantial muscle contraction in others, and you could see that if they were out of position, they would hurt themselves,” says McGill.

Here’s to a pain-free, sexually adventurous new year with your spouse! If you’ve got any tips for avoiding back pain during or after sex, please leave a comment.

Are you pregnant and suffering with morning sickness? Great news! Swallowing your husband’s semen will cure your nausea! Well, maybe… but better safe than sorry, I always say.

So what does Gallup say is the real culprit behind nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy? Semen. More specifically, unfamiliar semen. To understand where he’s coming from, we need to think back to the maternal immune system’s response to the fetus. Because half of the DNA the fetus is carrying comes from the father, the mother’s body may initially treat the organism as foreign tissue or an infection. This response, Gallup says, triggers an immune reaction that is commonly experienced as nausea, vomiting, and malaise (aka morning sickness). The best cure for this type of sickness, says Gallup, is, strangely enough, the same thing as its cause. The more exposure a woman has to her partner’s semen—that is to say, the more often she’s inseminated prior to conception and during the early stages of the pregnancy—the more tolerance her body develops to his genetic material. This tolerance generalizes to a tolerance for the fetus and leads to successful maternal immunosuppression—and subsequently allows her to feel less like an infected zombie with serious stomach troubles.

Swallowing your husband’s semen also appears to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.

Normal pregnancy is thought to be associated with a state of tolerance to the foreign antigens of the fetus, whereas in preeclamptic women this immunological tolerance might be hampered. The present study shows that oral sex and swallowing sperm is correlated with a diminished occurrence of preeclampsia which fits in the existing idea that a paternal factor is involved in the occurrence of preeclampsia.

So, dear readers: go do some research and report back.

Being sick enough to require antibiotics is bad enough, but then just as you’re feeling better there’s more bad news: antibiotics mess with your birth control. Using an “alternate method of birth control” while you’re on antibiotics generally means abstinence, oral sex, or condoms. Abstinence for 10 days is lame. Oral sex is awesome, but can leave you longing for more after a few days. And condoms are… well… sigh.

Lots of people use condoms all the time, and maybe they’re used to it. If you’re slutting around with tons of people it makes sense to use condoms. But as a married couple condoms just feel wrong — not morally of course, but physically. It’s almost like you’re not even having sex. As I wrote in Yes, You Should Swallow the sharing of bodily fluids is incredibly intimate, and the condom is there to prevent exactly that. It’s like wearing rubber gloves to hold hands!

rubber gloves

But is the worry about accidental pregnancy while on antibiotics overblown? Basically, there’s little evidence that any antibiotics other than rifampicin can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Rifampicin is generally prescribed for bacterial infections like tuberculosis and leprosy, so it isn’t very common. Nevertheless, the “better safe than sorry” mentality makes everyone paranoid.

A complex study published in May, 2011 involved about 18,000 women and 1330 episodes of contraceptive failure. Researchers looked at the data on women both during months of contraceptive success (i.e., not getting pregnant) versus contraceptive failure to see if taking antibiotics made any difference. The bottom line: contraceptive failures did occur, but it was no more likely to occur if a woman was taking oral antibiotics.

Now, it’s impossible with science to prove a negative. Even the best, largest studies can’t say with 100% certainty that a super-rare event can’t occur. It could be that in very rare cases, antibiotics could somehow affect the way oral contraceptives work. So if you want to be super-safe, using two contraceptives is never a mistake. But as far as could be determined by this large epidemiologic study, women on contraceptives (excluding rifampin) were no more likely to experience a contraceptive failure than women not taking antibiotics.

If you was to be “extra safe” go ahead and use an alternate method of birth control, but is isn’t necessary. As long as you take your birth control pills every single day as directed and avoid known drug interactions you almost certainly won’t get pregnant due to antibiotics.