Not everything goes down between the sheets. These science-backed reasons could explain why you’re getting busy (or not)
When you hit the sheets, sex is really about logistics—what goes where, what feels good (and chemistry, of course). But what you do before—not foreplay, we mean way before—and after sex can have just as much, if not more of an effect on your performance. In fact, it can even determine whether or not you'll actually do the deed (see these 5 Common Libido-Crushers to Avoid). Science has uncovered a number of non-sexual reasons behind whether you're having more intense, satisfying sex or couldn't be less interested in getting naked. And only one of the reasons we rounded up happens in the bedroom. Educate yourself now to guarantee a better time in the bedroom (then try these 5 Moves to Orgasm Tonight).
As much as you may love cueing up the latest Nicholas Sparks movie (and there's a new one!) to get in the mood, your chick flick picks could be killing his sex drive. Seriously—scientists found that men were least likely to want sex after being subjected to romantic conditions (in this case, a scene showing Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s first kiss in Titanic, plus a romantic clip from Indecent Proposal), according to a study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The researchers concluded that while women get more turned on by romantic scenes, men are fine with more explicit stimuli, like porn. (Here's How to Watch Porn Together.)
It's always about competition with men, right? In fact, even perceived competition can make your sex life hotter, says a study published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology. Researchers polled 393 heterosexual men in long-term, committed relationships, and had them rate their partner’s appearance, how many male friends and co-workers they thought she had, how attractive they believed other men found her, and how often they had sex with her. Turns out, the women with more guy friends and coworkers had more sex with their partners. Apparently, that threat of a little competition makes us more desirable to our man.
You know the pill affects a lot more than whether you get pregnant or not—but did you know it can be your libido's version of beer goggles? Hormonal birth control can actually determine who you're attracted to, according to a U.K. study. Scientists not only found that women who went on or off hormonal birth control while in a relationship experienced a decrease in sexual satisfaction, but also that women who met their future husbands while on hormonal birth control but went off of it after getting married became became less satisfied with their marriages (especially if their husband wasn't conventionally "hot"). (Get filled in on more of the Most Common Side Effects of Birth Control.)
Everyone has a type that turns them on: tall, skinny, surfer, whatever. But science has proven there are a few characteristics in a man that can actually make your orgasms stronger. (Have You Ever Really Had an Orgasm?) Per a recent study published in the journal Evolutionary Pyschology, the frequency and intensity of your orgasms is related to your partner's family income (it should be high), his self-confidence (this should also be high), how funny you find him (the better the sense of humor...), and how attractive he is (broad shoulders are key here). And, if your friends think your partner is really hot, that also means your probably more satisfied in bed. Science says so!
If you find yourself craving sex all the time (or never), it could have less to do with your libido than your brain. Some people, according to research published in UCLA's Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience journal, are just wired for it. Researchers showed 225 psychology students a variety of photos that included couples kissing, having sex or doing something totally G-rated; the people whose brain activity reacted to more of the pictures were the same ones who had had more sexual partners. Basically, those people's brains are more sensitive to sexual cues than others, making it easier for them to get aroused (which leads them to seek out more sexual partners). (In the mood? Try 4 Ways to Have More Sex—Tonight!)
Some people crave a spoon sesh after sex, others are loathe to loll around. Guess who's more sexually satisfied? The cuddlers, says a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Scientists observed the behavior of 335 participants after they got it in, and found that those who spent more time showing affection reported high sexual satisfaction. (The average time, in case you were wondering, was 15 minutes.) In fact, the duration of post-sex affection ranked higher than the length of foreplay and the actual sex. Snuggle away! (PS: Find out How Your Sleep Style Affects Your Relationship.)
You know better than to indulge in fast food too often, and here's another reason not to: it can kill your sex drive. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, researchers questioned 360 pregnant women in their 20s and 30s about their sex life during the months before they conceived. They also took urine samples, measuring the level of phthalates—a group of chemicals found in fast food, processed items, and nonorganic produce that has been linked to a lower libido—in each sample. Women with the highest level of phthalates in their urine were two-and-a-half times more likely to report a stalled sex drive. (Hungry? Eat these 25 Superfoods for Better Sex instead.)
Obviously, there are a lot of benefits to yoga (and not just that it ups your bendiness in bed). A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine says it can specifically enhance sexual function and satisfaction in women. Researchers had 40 women at a yoga program in India fill out a standard sexual-function questionnaire at the beginning and end of the 12-week program. At the end, they found improvements in desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, and overall satisfaction. (Find out why else Yogis Are Better in Bed.)