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Why Humans Have Sex; The True Answers To Our Questions

At my Medical Sex Therapy course, I was asked to review this article on why humans have sex.  The first part of this review discusses the article itself, and then I will give you my assessment.  I hope that you enjoy!

This article is the compilation of two Studies.  The first study consisted of 444 men and women (equal numbers) who were asked to make a comprehensive list of all the reasons why people engage in sexual intercourse.  Two hundred and thirty-seven reasons were identified.  They ranged from 17 to 52 years; however, the majority must have been fairly young as they were recruited from college psychology classes, psychology graduate classes, and volunteers who were participating in other studies at the Psychophysiology Lab at the University of Texas.  The second study involved participants who were given course credit for participating.  96% of the participants were 18 to 22 years of age. About 2,000 people were in this study (Women:men  was 3:1).  4% of women and 2% of men were married.   The results were very interesting.  

The most frequently endorsed reasons for having intercourse reflects what motivates most people in relationships (attraction, pleasure, affection, love, romance, emotional closeness, arousal, the desire to please, adventure, excitement, experience, connection, celebration, curiosity, and opportunity. 

The most frequent “themes” are as follows:


Men and women were amazingly similar in their responses in that 20 of the top 25 reasons given were identical in both groups.

The least frequently endorsed “themes” for having sexual intercourse were as follows:


Most of these reasons for having sexual intercourse may have terrible personal consequences.  To want to give someone a sexually transmitted disease can destroy that person’s life in many ways.  Infidelity within the context of a committed, romantic relationship is one of the most frequent reasons worldwide for a breakup.

Romantic breakups are among the most psychologically painful life events and can destroy friendships and families.  Sexual infidelity can cause violence and even lead to murder.  Using sex for promotion is illegal and create workplace disruptions and violence.  Forced sex can devastate a person emotionally causing depression, humiliation, grief, and PTSD.

Within the study, 4 factors were identified which motivate people to have sexual intercourse:


There were 4 reported limitations of the study:

  1. Only 237 reasons were allowed – there may be more that the first study group didn’t think of because reasons are based on life experience – they do not know what they have not experienced
  2. The lowest reasons for having sex may be under-reported because even though anonymous, people may not want to even admit that they have done some things that may not be “socially acceptable”
  3. The people who came up with the 237 reasons were very young (probably > 90% less than 25 years of age)  
  4. A small study culture (introductory psychology classes were the only participants)


So…What were the 20 most common reasons that these young people gave for having sex?

  1. I was attracted to the person
  2. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure
  3. It feels good
  4. I wanted to show my affection to the person
  5. I wanted to express my love for the person
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted release
  7. I was “horny”
  8. It’s fun
  9. I realized I was in love
  10. I was “in the moment”
  11. I wanted to please my partner
  12. I desired emotional closeness and intimacy
  13. I wanted the pure pleasure
  14. I wanted to achieve orgasm
  15. It’s exciting, adventurous
  16. I wanted to feel connected to the person
  17. The person’s physical attractiveness turned me on
  18. It was a romantic setting
  19. The person really desired me
  20. The person made me feel sexy


Why Humans have sex: Dr. Pam

What is Dr. Pam’s perspective on this article?  Well, based on what I do every day…talk to and listen to women, this was very predictable for this age group which:


I wish that the study had been done for many age groups.  Obviously, the reasons that motivate a 50+ year old woman to have intercourse are not the same for a 20 year old.  Also, the reasons that motivate a woman who is married and in their 50’s or older may not be the same as someone who is unmarried.  Also, in talking to so many partners of menopausal women, the reasons that older married or unmarried men have intercourse may be very different than the reasons that women (their partners) give.

Although it is impossible to keep my personal thoughts completely out of this, I am going to give the top reasons that I believe that mature women in stable, long-term relationships would give.  I went through all 237 reasons cited in the article.

In no particular order, they are:


Also, from my perspective, there are reasons to have sex on the list that I’m pretty sure that NO menopausal women would give. 

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