Alert
Close

Top the Trizzle leaderboard by 5 p.m. Friday to win a $100 gift card! Learn more

Why Men Are Hot for Sex but Women Warm to It

For many women, desire is not the cause of sex, but its result

What comes first: sex or desire?

"While most men are 'preheated,' most women warm up to sex slowly." — Alamy

En español | While most men are "preheated," most women warm up to sex slowly. Learning the reasons for this difference can help men become better lovers.

Most men over 50 can remember experiencing libido as a strong drive — akin, almost, to hunger: They felt horny and went after sex. (Indeed, some still do.) But recent research shows that women experience libido as an urge far less compelling than that. In a landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999, for example, University of Chicago sociologist Edward O. Laumann revealed his findings that 30 percent of women have low or no libido. (This sexual desire difference is one of the most frequent causes for women and couples to seek sex therapy.)

But there was also a silver lining: If these women have sex and enjoy it, they eventually experience desire.

The overlooked key to women's desire

In 2000 and 2002, a University of British Columbia psychiatrist named Rosemary Basson interviewed hundreds of women who reported feeling "erotically neutral" at the start of sex. Only when they started making love — and enjoyed it — did they warm up and feel actual desire.

In the years since then, other researchers have corroborated her findings. In the largest study, a survey of 3,687 women, Portuguese sex researcher Ana Carvalheira found that women who said that sex preceded desire outnumbered those who reported desire first by a margin of 2 to 1. Today, sex therapists increasingly accept Basson's view that for many (if not most) women, desire is not the cause of sex, but its result.

But if women don't feel lust before sex, why do they make love? According to Basson, it's not primarily to have orgasms, but rather to share intimacy. This means men become intimate to gain sex, whereas women have sex to gain intimacy.

If women's desire results from good sex, then the issue for men is not how to ignite their lust before the fact; it's knowing what kind of sex enables women to warm up sufficiently to experience desire. According to sexologists, the "brand" you should try is sex based on gentle, whole-body massage that eventually includes the genitals but does not fixate on them.

Unfortunately, many men don't appreciate the importance of whole-body lovemaking. "The genitals are important," says New York sex educator Betty Dodson, "but so is every other part of women's bodies. Men who rush into genital sex are clueless about women."

Next Page: Why you should forget foreplay and try this instead. »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Cheryl's

Members save on custom baked goods packages arrangements from Cheryl’s.

Movies Unlimited

Members save 10% on purchases of DVDs & Blu-ray discs from Movies Unlimited.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.