Birds do it, bees do it, and men do it any old time. But women will only do
it if the candles are scented just right -- and their partner has done the
dishes first. A stereotype, sure, but is it true? Do men really have stronger
sex drives than women?
Well, yes, they do. Study after study illustrates that men's sex drives are
not only stronger than women's, but much more straightforward. The sources of
women's libidos, by contrast, are much more difficult to pin down.
It's common wisdom that women place more value on emotional connection as a
spark of sexual desire. But women also appear to be heavily influenced by
social and cultural factors as well.
"Sexual desire in women is extremely sensitive to environment and context,"
says Edward O. Laumann, PhD, a professor of sociology at the University of
Chicago and lead author of a major survey of sexual practices, The Social
Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States.
Here are seven patterns of men's and women's sex drives that researchers
have found. Bear in mind that individuals may vary from these
The majority of adult men under 60 think about sex at least once a day,
reports Laumann. Only about one-quarter of women report this level of
frequency. As men and women age, each fantasize less, but men still fantasize
about twice as often.
In a comprehensive survey of studies comparing male and female sex drives,
Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University, found that
men reported more spontaneous sexual arousal and had more frequent and varied
2. Men seek sex more avidly.
"Men want sex more often than women at the start of a relationship, in the
middle of it, and after many years of it," Baumeister concludes after reviewing
several surveys of men and women. This isn't just true of heterosexuals, he
reports: gay men also have higher frequency of sex than lesbians at all stages
of the relationship. Men also say they want more sex partners in their
lifetime, and are more interested in casual sex.
Men are more likely to seek sex even when it is frowned upon or even
About two-thirds say they masturbate, even though about half also say they
feel guilty about it, Laumann says. By contrast, about 40% of women say they
masturbate, and the frequency of masturbation is smaller among women.
Prostitution is still mostly a phenomenon of men seeking sex with women,
rather than the other way around.
Nuns do a better job of fulfilling their vows of chastity than priests.
Baumeister cites a survey of several hundred clergy by Sheila Murphy in which
62% of priests admitted to sexual activity, compared to 49% of nuns. The men
reported more partners on average than the women.