Why You're Crying and Emotional After Sex

Sex has lots of proven body benefits: It can help reduce pain, make it easier to sleep, and strengthen your immune system. But it also may have an unexpected effect on your mood, leaving you feeling sad and blue after the action is over—so much so that you might finding yourself crying.

This sadness has a name: post-coital dysphoria (PCD). Ian Kerner, a New York City–based sex therapist, describes PCD as “[feelings of] sadness, anger, and distress generally post-sex and often post-orgasm.” You might experience it during a hookup, but it also happens when you’re with a partner you feel close to and the sex itself felt pleasurable. In fact, you don’t need a partner—PCD can even happen during or after masturbation.

RELATED: 5 Health Benefits of Sex

Not only is post-sex sadness a real thing, it’s surprisingly common. A 2015 survey of college women published in Sexual Medicine found that 46% experienced it at least once; 5% reported feeling sad and lonely after sex multiple times in a four-week period. “There appeared to be no relationship between PCD and intimacy in close relationships,” the study authors noted. The study focused on women, but it can strike men as well.

Kerner says PCD isn’t well researched, but he believes the sadness has to do with hormones. “Especially for women, sex and orgasm can release the hormone oxytocin, which facilitates attachment and connection,” he explains. If you’re having a casual sexual encounter, you’ll still feel that surge in oxytocin. Cue the realization that you’re not in a long-term commitment with your hookup partner, and your emotions can be set off. If you are with your SO, your sadness might reflect on unhappiness with your relationship.

Sex also makes us feel vulnerable, and that vulnerability can bring on tears. “Post-sex is a reflective period, and that can bring up emotions and experiences you normally keep under wraps,” says Kerner. That in turn may trigger a floodgate of tears and feels. Kerner gives the example of a couple who have fallen into a pattern of fighting and then having makeup sex. “With a pattern of fight, have sex, and repair, the sex may feel great, but afterward, you may realize you aren’t really connected or you’re still angry.”

RELATED: The Truth About What Happens to Your Vagina When You Haven’t Had Sex in a While

Past trauma can contribute to your post-sex blues too. Survivors of sexual assault, for instance, might feel very emotional if the sexual experience reminded them of being assaulted. And people who base their self-worth on how their partner feels about them are more likely to feel depressed after sex—if their partner doesn’t treat them with the closeness they were hoping for. 

If you experience PCD and you aren’t sure why, “it’s a good reason to see a therapist, who could help cultivate some self-insight,” suggests Kerner. He also says that giving yourself an orgasm via masturbation, and then seeing where your mind wanders, can help get an idea of what might be making you feel so emotional. Whether you cry, laugh, or have another post-sex reaction, know that whatever emotions you feel are valid. 

The Best Sex Positions Outside The Bedroom: Shower Sex, Car Sex, More

You can light scented candles, put satin sheets on the bed, invest in throw pillows of every size, even install deluxe speakers for your get-in-the-mood playlist. But the fact is, even the most sensuous bedroom can start to feel ho-hum if that’s the main place where you and your partner have .

The solution for busting out of a bedroom rut? Bust out of the bedroom and consider getting it on in different rooms and spaces in the rest of your home, which can amp up excitement and novelty. “A new location can encourage a couple to be naughtier, perhaps even tapping some desires that aren’t always explored and starting a conversation about what each other’s turn ons are,” says Marissa Nelson, sex therapist and founder of IntimacyMoons Retreats. 

Here, sex therapists share eight places to hook up in your home, explaining why these locations are so sex-worthy and the specific positions to try out in each. You’ll never look at the kitchen counter or laundry room quite the same way again.

RELATED: How Your Gynecologist Can Help Boost Your Sex Life

The kitchen

The table and counters offer supportive surfaces of varying height where you can test out different angles and positions. The kitchen is also usually the warmest spot in the house, so you’ll want to peel off your clothes there. And in the fridge, you can keep fun goodies for foreplay, like whipped cream and chocolate.

“Have the woman hop on to the counter and slide her bum to the edge,” says Nelson. “The man can enter her as he stands and thrusts. Because her pelvis is elevated on the counter, this is the perfect position for g-spot stimulation as well as deep penetration.” 

The couch

Most couches are too narrow for two people to lie down and get it on in lots of wild positions. That makes it a great place to entwine with your partner and enjoy super close sex with lots of skin-on-skin contact, either missionary style or from behind. The couch is also an ideal place for sex while sitting. “Him sitting forward and her straddling him can be very intimate,” suggests Angela Skurtu, a St. Louis–based sex therapist.

RELATED: What Your Sexual Fantasies Really Mean, Plus 5 Common Types

The guest bedroom

Okay, it’s still a bedroom—but it’s not the same one you’re used to, which makes it feel like more of a sexy retreat but with the comfort and space you’re accustomed to. “The cool thing about this space is that it can be your escape to pleasure, and you can giggle to yourselves every time you have a house guest,” says Nelson. 

With this in mind, make this the room where you push boundaries and experiment with different positions. Nelson suggests you “use the wall as a prop, with the woman’s back against the wall and her legs up as the man supports her weight, or doggy style with her hands on the wall for balance. Both are great for stimulating the clitoris during penetration.” When you’re done, take advantage of the soft mattress and relax in the afterglow.

In front of the fireplace

Candles and a dimmer switch are pretty standard romantic props—but nothing changes the mood of sex quite like a cracking fire. The flames highlight some body areas and throws shadows on others, making you feel more mysterious and look very sexy; it’s the ideal place to do a sexy striptease for your partner.

Fire also has an element of danger, and sex beside it “can feel romantic and primitive,” says Eric Garrison, sex therapist in Richmond, Virginia and author of Mastering Multiple Positive Sex: Mind-Blowing Lovemaking Techniques That Create Unforgettable Orgasms. Consider positions and styles that unleash your inner tiger.

WATCH THE VIDEO: 7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Sex Drive 

The closet

“I love the closet because it usually has limited space, so it encourages couples to be in more creative positions,” says Nelson. “There are also lots of props in the closet like belts and scarves that can be used as blindfolds or restraints. Turning the lights off also allows couples to have a completely sensory experience since they can’t see but have to feel each other.”

Depending on the size of your closet, you might be limited to sex standing up or against the wall. But if you can lie down, Nelson recommends getting into the woman on top, reverse cowgirl, and doggy style poses. “These positions allow for the pelvis to be tilted and are amazing for clitoral stimulation and orgasm,” she says.

The laundry room

Sure you’ve heard couples boasting about the sexy vibrations of getting it on against a running washing machine or dryer. But there’s another reason the laundry room makes for a good place for bumping and grinding. 

“Rooms that are designed for storage are usually more soundproof than you imagine,” says Tammy Nelson, PhD, sexologist and author of Getting the Sex You Want. “Bring a blanket, pillows, and something soft and make a ‘nest’ on the floor,” suggests Nelson. The small room and the nest of cozy blankets creates a ‘held’ feeling, where sex can be more intimate and more daring at the same time.” This is the time to do things that make you both scream with pleasure.

WATCH THE VIDEO: 5 Shower Habits That Can Wreck Your Skin

The shower 

Steam is sexy because of the heat and the way it can almost mask your body, creating mystery. Meanwhile, feeling the spray of warm water running down your skin intensifies sensations—and a flexible shower head held close to your clitoris can be an orgasm trigger. “Some of my clients have reported extremely erotic sex in the shower,” says Marissa Nelson. “You are both getting clean while getting dirty, and the warm water, bubbles and lathering each other down makes for a very sensual time. Just use caution as the bathtub is slippery.” 

Just remember that having sex in water can sometimes wash away some of your natural lubrication, so bring some store-bought, silicon-based lube in with you, just in case.

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The car in the garage

It might seem like a retro idea, but hear us out. Adjustable seats that heat up are perfect for sexy kissing and foreplay. The lights are out except for maybe the dashboard, which adds mystery and intrigue. You can crank the music and not disturb anyone. Plus, there’s not much room in a parked car, so you need to be tuned into each other’s bodies to make it work.

Oh, and it’ll make you feel young and full of desire again, which is an aphrodisiac of its own. “Sex in the car parked in a garage can feel like a return to your youth, but without the fear of the town officer rapping on the window,” says Garrison.

News Roundup: Breast Cancer and Stress, Weight Does Not Affect Sex Life, and More

Can stress increase your risk of breast cancer?Women under age 45 who have breast cancer were more likely than peers without cancer to report experiencing several stressful life events, such as a parental divorce or loss of a spouse, according to a study. What’s more, they were also more likely to report anxiety and depression in their past. The authors say “general feelings of happiness and optimism can play a protective role against the disease.” Sounds simple: Don’t worry, be happy, avoid breast cancer. But the link between stress and cancer—if there is one—is still not clear. The women were interviewed after their breast cancer diagnoses, a study design that’s only as good as the subjects’ sometimes faulty memories—a problem known as recall bias. More research is needed to pin down any links between attitude, mood, stress, and breast cancer. (Read more about breast cancer and breast cancer myths.)

Skinny or fat, weight doesn’t affect female sexual activityWhen it comes to sexual activity, a woman’s weight doesn’t seem to matter. Bliss Kaneshiro, MD, and colleagues analyzed 2002 survey data from 7,643 women aged 15–44, and found that body mass index (BMI) had no impact on age at first intercourse, sexual orientation, the number of lifetime or current male partners, or the frequency of sex. In contrast, other surveys suggest that normal-weight men have 10 more lifetime partners than obese men—though men who want more partners may be more motivated to “maintain a lean physique,” according to the report in Obstetrics & Gynecology. For women, there was only one weight-related difference in sexual activity—obese and overweight women were slightly less likely than other women to say they were virgins (about 7% to 8% vs. 12.6% of normal-weight women). (Read more about health and sexuality.)

Mean girls? Study suggests boys are just as badAlthough movies like Mean Girls might lead you to believe that teen girls are the originators of the nasty rumors, backstabbing, and all-around bad behavior circulating at your local high school, a new study suggests that boys can be just as bad. When researchers analyzed 148 studies, including nearly 74,000 children and teens, boys and girls were almost the same in terms of these behaviors, known as indirect aggression. And direct aggression—hitting, pushing, and name-calling—was more common in boys than girls, according to the study in the journal Child Development. The authors concluded “that indirect aggression is not a ‘female form’ of aggression.”

Your municipal tap water…now with more drug residuesBack in March, the Associated Press reported that a “vast array of pharmaceuticals” (including antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and sex hormones) had been discovered in the drinking water of 41 million Americans across 24 metropolitan areas. Those findings prompted 27 more cities to analyze their water. Now a follow-up report suggests that at least 46 million Americans could be drinking water with unmetabolized drug residues that have made their way from humans to wastewater into reservoirs and watersheds. And even that may be a low estimate. Many metro areas, including New York City, have not been tested. The drug amounts are so tiny as to be harmless in any one dose, but some experts are concerned about the cumulative exposure. It’s not clear if bottled water is any safer—many bottlers don’t test for drug residues.

City extracts methane from waste, makes itself truly people-poweredEnterprising officials of San Antonio’s water system are making some good out of human waste. The city recently unveiled a plan that will make it the first in the United States to extract methane gas from human waste on a commercial scale and convert it into clean-burning fuel, according to a Reuters report. Massachusetts-based Ameresco will be contracted to turn the city’s “biosolids” into natural gas. Steve Clouse, chief operating officer of San Antonio’s water system, explained the process: “The private vendor will come onto the facility, construct some gas-cleaning systems, remove the moisture, remove the carbon dioxide content, and then sell that gas on the open market.” No word yet on whether the city plans to extract any excess pharmaceuticals from the wastewater to sell on the side.

(PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO/HEALTH)

 


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Study Finds 10% of Tweens, Teens Have 'Sexted'

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By Anne Harding

MONDAY, December 5, 2011 (Health.com) — “Sexting”—the practice of taking sexually explicit photos and sending them to peers via cell phones or the Internet—may be less common among U.S. adolescents than previous research and media reports have suggested, according to a new nationwide study.

In contrast to a widely cited 2008 survey in which 20% of teens reported sending or posting sexual pictures of themselves, the new survey—in a younger group of Internet users, some as young as 10—found that only 10% of teens and tweens had done so. And just 1% reported sending or receiving nude or partly nude images.

“It’s still something that we need to talk to kids about, but not all kids are doing it,” says Kimberly J. Mitchell, Ph.D., a study coauthor and a research associate professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham. “It’s a bit reassuring, because a lot of the other studies about this have come up with much larger numbers.”

The new findings, which appear in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics, shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that sexting isn’t a serious problem, says Amanda Lenhart, a senior research scientist at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, in Washington, D.C.

Related links:

Top 10 Myths About Safe Sex and Sexual Health

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“Even if you look at 1% or 2% of kids in a high school of a thousand kids, that’s 10 to 20 kids, and that’s plenty of people for whom this is a big issue and for whom this is a troublesome problem in their lives,” says Lenhart, who has researched teen sexting but was not involved in the new study.

Mitchell and her team conducted phone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,560 Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17. Slightly less than 10% of the participants reported that during the past year they’d created, appeared in, or received “sexually suggestive” images—a broad category that includes images of kids and teens in underwear, swimsuits, or clothed “sexy poses.”

But the rate dropped when sexting was defined as sending or receiving images showing sexual activity or naked breasts, genitals, or backsides—all of which may qualify as child pornography, the study notes. Just 1% of the adolescents took a photo or video of themselves meeting these criteria, and 6% received such an image.

As one might expect, older kids were far more likely than tweens to be involved in sexting of any kind, which may explain in part why previous surveys that were restricted to teens have found higher overall rates, Mitchell says.

Sexting among youth raises many concerns, including the risk that an adolescent who sends or posts explicit photos could be prosecuted under child pornography laws. (The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s juvenile division.) Nude photos can also be circulated without the subject’s knowledge, used to bribe or blackmail someone, or end up in adult hands.

Next page: Rare for images to “go viral”

Mitchell and her colleagues, however, found that it was relatively rare for sexual images to “go viral” through a school or community, or even among a group of friends. Just 10% of images wound up being distributed, while 3% of young people who received a nude or nearly nude image forwarded it to others or posted it online.

In a separate study in the same issue of Pediatrics, the researchers looked at a sample of 675 police cases involving youth sexting and found it was very rare for pictures to escape the cell-phone realm and be posted on the Internet. “Even though they could get out, it doesn’t seem that they’re being as widely distributed as we’re being led to believe,” Mitchell says.

Jill Murray, a psychotherapist in private practice in Orange County, Calif., and the author of But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter From Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships, says the findings of Mitchell and her colleagues may not capture the full extent of sexting among young people.

Even though the researchers assured the survey participants that the interviews were confidential, the kids may nevertheless have downplayed their sexting behavior, she says. “Teenagers are sort of suspicious that they’re talking to an adult, [that] an adult’s going to report them, or the person conducting the survey has their phone number,” Murray says. “I just don’t know that the kids were honest.”

And the low number of adolescents in the study who reported circulating images doesn’t ring true, adds Murray, who says she frequently sees girls who have sent a nude photo to a boyfriend that wound up being sent to all his friends, and their friends, and so on. “If you’re a 15-year-old kid that’s getting a naked or nearly naked picture of a girl, there’s practically no way you’re going to keep that photo to yourself. It’s almost a biological imperative.”

Although encouraging, the new study is a reminder that parents need to monitor their children’s cell-phone and Internet use, and explain to them the potential legal implications of transmitting nude images of minors, Murray and other experts say.

“It’s important that parents do understand that when you give your kid a cell phone, you’re really giving them a lot of power in terms of access and communication,” says Caroline Knorr, the parenting editor at Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based advocacy organization that seeks to educate kids and families about media and technology. “It’s just really important to discuss your rules around what the responsible usage of that device is.”

Surgeon Claims to Have Found the 'G

By Anne Harding

TUESDAY, April 24, 2012 (Health.com) — Eureka! A retired professor of gynecology is claiming to have found anatomical proof of the existence of the “G-spot,” the quasi-mythical erogenous zone that is said to bring on vaginal orgasms in some women.

In a paper published this week in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Adam Ostrzenski, M.D., describes a sac-like structure roughly one-eighth of an inch in diameter, located on the front wall of the vagina. Ostrzenski, the director of the Institute of Gynecology in St. Petersburg, Fla., identified the cluster of tissue during a layer-by-layer dissection of the vaginal wall of an 83-year-old Polish woman who had died 24 hours earlier.

If confirmed in future research, this finding could shine a light on female sexual function and even open the door to surgical enhancement of the G-spot, Ostrzenski says. Next month, he’s planning to travel back to Poland to conduct additional dissections and study the tissues in more detail. The structure may look different in younger individuals, and its location and size is likely to vary from woman to woman, he says.

Related links:

Top 10 Myths About Safe Sex and Sexual Health

12 Secrets to Better Orgasms

I’ve Never Had An Orgasm. Are Some People Just Incapable?

Experts not involved in the research are skeptical that this is a notable or relevant discovery, however. The structure Ostrzenski describes may well be a network of blood vessels that contributes to sexual arousal, but it almost certainly does not explain the entire G-spot phenomenon, says Emmanuele Jannini, MD, a professor of endocrinology and sexology at the University of L’Aquila, in Italy.

“The G-spot is not just a spot; it’s something much more complex,” says Jannini, who has used ultrasound to search for the G-spot in his own research. “Something is there. We may call it a G-spot or not—it doesn’t matter.”

Ostrzenski’s paper, moreover, does not contain any information on the deceased woman’s medical history or sexual function, so it’s impossible to know whether she experienced the vaginal orgasms associated with the G-spot, says Amichai Kilchevsky, MD, a urologist at the Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Conn.

“I’m not sure what this is contributing,” Kilchevsky says. “To study this you need to use a live human being, or something like a functional MRI that will actually look at the blood flow in the brain. We still have a good amount to learn about the functional anatomy of female arousal.”

Next page: Reports of G-spot date back to Kama Sutra

The G-spot is named for Ernest Gräfenberg, a German gynecologist who described an “erotic zone” on the front wall of the vagina, along the urethra, in the International Journal of Sexology in 1950. Anecdotal reports about an area in the vagina that swells and produces pleasure when stimulated date back much further, at least to the time of the Kama Sutra, the ancient Hindu sex manual and guide to life.

“It’s a physiological phenomenon that has been noticed by women through the centuries,” Ostrzenski says. In the paper, he writes that the structure he identified contains tissue that resembles erectile tissue.

Since Gräfenberg’s time, studies using methods ranging from dissection to electrical stimulation have suggested that many women do have an area in the vagina that, when stimulated, can cause a powerful orgasm. This area is likely an internal extension of the clitoris, Kilchevsky says. The penis has a similar extension, he adds, and in both men and women these extensions become engorged with blood during stimulation.

In the past, sexual health experts have worried that media coverage of the G-spot phenomenon would lead women to feel inadequate if they can’t achieve an orgasm through vaginal stimulation alone. “The reality is that not all women do have vaginal orgasms, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Kilchevsky says.

Jannini, too, stresses that women who do not experience vaginal orgasms are “absolutely normal.” While some women’s physiology may enable them to derive heightened sensation from a G-spot-like structure, for all women the clitoris is the primary vehicle for sexual pleasure, he says.

“It is very, absolutely bad to try to hysterically look for the G-spot,” Jannini says. “Looking for the vaginal orgasm is the best way to lose the vaginal orgasm.”

Yes, You Can Have an Orgasm While Working Out

If you’ve been lacking gym motivation lately, here’s some news that might boost your drive: It’s possible to have an orgasm during exercise.

Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to Sports Illustrated model Jessica White during an especially sweaty sesh: “I was doing these squats one time, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is orgasmic,’” she said in an interview with Bikini.com last week.“Maybe I was squeezing and doing my kegels, I don’t know what it was, but I had to go to the bathroom.”

White then confirmed that she did, actually, know what it was: a full-blown orgasm.

RELATED: 14 Fascinating Things All Women Should Know About Orgasms

While White’s pleasure-fueled workout may seem too wild to be true, orgasms during exercise, often referred to as “coregasms,” are totally a thing. A study published in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy back in 2011 explored the phenomenon.

The researchers surveyed 530 adult women. Among the participants, 124 reported they’d had an exercise-induced orgasm (EIO) and 246 said they’d experienced exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP).

RELATED: 12 Secrets to Better Orgasms

What we wanted to know: Which moves were most orgasmic?

Among the EIO group, 51.4% of the women said they climaxed during ab exercises(!), while others cited weight lifting (26.5%), yoga (20%), biking (15.8%) and hiking or running (13.2%).

In the free-response section of the survey, many women credited the the captain’s chair—a piece of gym equipment on which you grip handles to support your arms and back against a frame, while you repeatedly lift your your legs.

RELATED: 10 Things You Never Knew About the Clitoris

While you might guess the study participants’ stimulating workouts were sparked by sexy thoughts, the women reported that they were not fantasizing prior to the big O.

“These data are interesting because they suggest that orgasm is not necessarily a sexual event, and they may also teach us more about the bodily processes underlying women’s experiences of orgasm,” said lead author Debby Hebernick, PhD, a sexual health educator from The Kinsey Institute in a press statement. It’s still unclear what causes these extra-satisfying workouts, but Hebernick hopes her research will help normalize the concept of so-called coregasms. (She published a book last year called The Coregasm Workout.)

For now, the takeaway is that if you’ve had an orgasm during a gym sesh, you’re not alone (also: lucky you!). And even if you haven’t, research suggests that exercise can make you feel more desirable and increase your arousal. Talk about fitspiration.

Female Orgasms May Have a Purpose (Other Than Just Fun)

MONDAY, Aug. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The female orgasm—famously faked by Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally”—may have its true roots in evolution as an aid to conception, new research suggests.

In their study, researchers at Yale University noted that while the male orgasm’s role in getting the sperm to meet the egg has long been clear, the female orgasm’s role has been a mystery.

It has no obvious role in the success of reproduction or in the number of children, so scientists have long tried to determine why women have orgasms, said a team led by Yale professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Gunter Wagner.

He and co-researcher Mihaela Pavlicev, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, studied other mammals for clues into how the female orgasm evolved. They looked at non-human mammals and focused on a specific reflex that goes along with orgasms in women—release of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin.

In many mammals, this orgasm-linked reflex plays a role in ovulation—specifically, helping to stimulate the release of eggs from the ovaries.

Despite the fact that mammals vary widely today, this trait may have been necessary to ovulation in species that were ancestral to humans. “This [orgasm-linked] reflex became superfluous for reproduction later in evolution, freeing [human] female orgasm for secondary roles,” according to a Yale news release.

The study authors also noted that the clitoris appears to have shifted in anatomical position throughout evolution — so that it now is less likely to be directly stimulated during intercourse.

The study was published Aug. 1 in the journal JEZ-Molecular and Developmental Evolution.

More information

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has more on female orgasm.

How Women and Men Really Feel About Casual Sex, According to Research

About half of all people in the United States and Western Europe will have at least one one-night stand, according to the authors of a new study. And how they feel about those encounters the next morning tends to vary based on gender: Women are more likely than men to regret casual sex, while men are more often happy with what went down.

The new research also saw big differences in how people felt after they turned down opportunities for casual sex: Very few women regretted saying no, while nearly a third of men wished they had said yes instead.

The findings, published in Evolutionary Psychology, come from a recent survey of 263 adults living in Norway, but they’re strikingly similar to previous research done in the U.S. In fact, the authors of the new study set out to see if they’d find big differences between the two locations, given that Norway has been ranked as a more sexually liberal, and secularized country.

RELATED: 13 Reasons to Have More Sex

But it tuns out that the same patterns exist in both places. In the Norwegian survey, 35% of women regretted having sex with someone they’d just met, versus 20% of men. And only about 30% of women were happy about their most recent experience, versus 50% of men.

When asked about the last time they said no to casual sex, 80% of women and 43% of men were happy about their decision. Only about 4% of women regretted passing up an opportunity, compared to nearly 30% of men.

To figure out exactly why women tend to regret casual sex more than men, the researchers—from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of Texas at Austin—dug further. They found that, unsurprisingly, women tend to worry more about issues like , sexually transmitted infections, and getting a bad reputation. Not only are some of these issues unique to women, the authors point out, but women tend to worry more in general—while men tend to be more impulsive and take more risks.

Survey respondents were also asked about sexual pleasure they received from their one-night stands. There, the researchers found another not-so-big surprise: Men had orgasms during casual sex far more often than women. At the same time, though, fewer women said that orgasm was particularly important.

Still, the differences in worrying—or in sexual satisfaction—weren’t large enough to account for the overall gender gap in regret. Instead, the researchers hypothesize that regret has a lot to do with evolutionary differences between males and females.

Men are biologically programmed to produce as many offspring as possible, they say. Women, on the other hand, can’t have unlimited children the way men can—so they’re hardwired to care more about partners’ quality over quantity.

These biological drives are, of course, much less important today than they were centuries ago. And the researchers acknowledge that cultural stereotypes of sexually active men versus sexually active women may certainly play into women’s greater likelihood of having a negative experience. Women are also more likely to be coerced or pressured into sex than men, they write, which may also account for some instances of regret.

But the fact that this pattern persisted, even in a sexually egalitarian culture like Norway, suggests that evolutionary biology still has an impact, the researchers wrote.

So are there any lessons to take away from this? Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, PhD, professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, says that in today’s relatively liberal society, people may be troubled if they feel bad after having casual sex—actually experiencing unhappiness because of their unhappiness. 

“Some women might find some comfort in not being alone about regretting one-night stands, or not having orgasms every one-night stand,” Kennair told Health via email.

But it’s also important to note that these top-line results only show the big picture, he says. Plenty of women didn’t regret their one-night stands, just as plenty of men did. In other words, what really matters is how you feel about sex—not how society, or any one study, says you should feel.

After all, when both partners are into it, getting busy has been shown to have scores of health benefits. The important thing is that you’re using protection and making informed, safe decisions—ones that are good for you physically and emotionally

Can't Orgasm? What to Do If You're Having Trouble Reaching Climax

On this week’s episode of The Bachelor, contestant Raven revealed some major truths before her overnight date with bachelor Nick: She’s only slept with one man, and she’s never had an orgasm. While Nick took the news maturely, he was also pretty shocked. But for many women watching the show, Raven’s confession may not have been so surprising. That’s because 15% of women have difficulty reaching orgasm, and 10% have never had an orgasm during sex, according to a survey from Planned Parenthood. Plus, according to a new study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that surveyed 52,588 adults, just 65% of heterosexual women said they’re always able to achieve orgasm. On the other hand, 95% of straight men said they always reach the big O. That’s a discrepancy some call the orgasm gap.

As common as it may be, women who struggle to climax tend to keep quiet about it. “There’s a lot of shame around it, and not a lot of info about how common it is,” says Emily Morse, sex and relationship expert and host of the podcast Sex with Emily. Many women never seek help to figure out the root cause of the problem, whether it’s emotional or physical, and they wind up racked with anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.

The good news is that the body can learn how to orgasm. Here, sexual health experts outline the steps to take to prep your body for climax.

Take control in the bedroom

One important and empowering thing to realize is that your orgasms are your responsibility, says Morse. Some women believe it’s up to their partner to make them have an orgasm, and it will somehow magically happen when they jump into bed together. “That’s not going to happen,” says Morse. “You have to become an expert of your own body first, by learning how to touch yourself, where to touch yourself, what feels good, and how to bring yourself to your own orgasm.”

Masturbate, masturbate, masturbate

Take some you-time to explore your body, without fixating on having an orgasm, says Morse. “Run your hands all over your body, your nipples, really find your erogenous zones.”

And don’t forget about your clitoris. Lauren Streicher, MD, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health and Your Best Sex Ever says many of her patients who’ve struggled to climax never realized that orgasm is most likely to be achieved through clitoral stimulation. If you’re still a little unsure what to do down there, Morse recommends starting off by “touching it with light strokes,” then “playing around with different pressures, different speeds, and different motions” until you figure out your sweet spot.

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Seek a little assistance

Sex toys may help push you over the orgasm edge. “Many studies show that using a vibrator can increase the likelihood of orgasm,” says Dr. Streicher. She also points out that toys are totally normal, and great tools for enhancing your sex life, both solo and with a partner.

Everyone has a different preference when it comes to toys and vibrators, but Morse recommends trying a bullet vibrator or her new fave, the Gvibe Gring, bot of which you can take literally anywhere (not that we’re suggesting any, ahem, risky business.)

Morse is also a strong advocate of lube. “Women get wet at different rates and different times, depending on their bodies,” says Morse. So add a couple drops of lube, such as SKYN Maximum Performance, to your masturbation routine or during sex to get you going and really enhance the experience. Based on the ladies Emily has worked with, “women who use lube are more likely to orgasm than women who don’t.”

Get out of your head

Easier said than done, right? Whether your brain is preoccupied with all the errands you need to run post-romp, or you’re straight up stressing that you’ll fail at climaxing (again!), all that mental gymnastics is a surefire way to orgasm-block yourself.

“Mindset is a huge part of sexual pleasure and orgasm, so if you’re distracted or in your mind telling yourself it’s not going to happen, that can keep you from having an orgasm.” says Morse. “The trick is to tackle your tension before you get into the bedroom or before you masturbate, whether that’s through meditation or exercise, just try to unwind.”

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…and get in the zone

You’ve heard it time and time again, but it’s absolutely true that your brain is the most important sex organ, and a major part of arousal. So before you get into bed, “Start thinking about things that turn you on—maybe that’s by watching porn or remembering a past sexual experience,” says Morse. “When your brain is on board, it makes it easier for your body to follow.”But if you’re still having trouble tuning in, try to find a way to bring yourself back into the moment. “Really focus on the sensations you’re feeling in your body, or have a mantra you keep telling yourself like ‘this feels good, I have all night,’” advises Morse. “Or focus on your partner—touch them, hold on to them, and connect with them.” And most importantly, don’t be so hard on yourself or feel like you have to rush to the end. Instead, just try to stay in the moment, “because when you’re truly present, there’s no room in our mind for any thoughts.”

Keep it real

Just like Raven did on The Bachelor, it’s important to be open and honest with your partner. Don’t lie and say you’ve had an orgasm in the past, or worse, pretend like he’s given you one. Faking it is only going to rob yourself of pleasure and send the wrong message about what gets you off, says Morse.

Instead, work with your partner to get you there. If you do know how to achieve orgasm via masturbation, “there’s nothing wrong with doing the exact same thing you do, but with your partner,” says Morse. “So if you rub your clitoris, if you use toys, bring that into the mix. Get on top of your partner and move the way you have to. Or explain what you like by placing his hand on top of yours while you touch yourself.” Morse is also a big advocate of mutual masturbation, which allows both partners to see what the other likes and understand how each other’s bodies work. Morse explains: “It’s a great teachable moment for couples, plus it’s really hot.”

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Get vocal

In case it wasn’t clear, communication is crucial for great sex. And while you both may be feeling self-conscious about conquering that untapped orgasm, being open and vocal can certainly help you get there. Just be sure to keep it positive, says Morse. “Say things like ‘I love having sex with you and I’m really excited about having an orgasm with you; here are some fun things I think we should try.’”

You can get vocal in other ways, too. Morse suggests giving in to those visceral moans and deep breaths during a romp. “A lot of women hold their breath during sex, but there’s really a release that happens when you moan when things feel good,” she says. “You’re releasing tension in your body, plus it’ll help turn you on as well as your partner.”

If all else fails, see an expert

If you’ve tried masturbation, lube, toys, and all kinds of mind exercises, but still no O, reach out to a doctor. But if you do, just be sure to seek out an MD like Dr. Streicher, who is a sexual medicine expert, and can help address any medical, physical, or psychological problems that may be at play. Dr. Streicher assures that in her experience, there are very few cases of women who are completely unable to orgasm, even if they’ve yet to experience one. “If you’ve never had an orgasm, you are part of a very large group of women,” says Dr. Streicher. “You are not weird, you are not strange, there’s likely nothing wrong with you, and in all but very exceptional cases, this can be alleviated and you can get there.”

Is Anal Sex Dangerous? A Gynecologist Explains

When Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop devotes space to a feature about anal sex for hetero couples, it makes some waves. The Q&A with psychoanalyst Paul Joannides, author of The Guide to Getting It On!, delved into the history of anal and its rising popularity, as well as some how-to tips.

“First it was shocking, then it was having a cultural moment, now it’s practically standard in the modern bedroom repertoire—or so a quick scan of any media, from porn to HBO, will tell you,” the Goop editors wrote in the introduction.

While research suggests anal isn’t quite as prevalent as pop culture might suggest—a 2016 study found that just 12.2% of American women had done it within the last three months—there’s no question curiosity about the backdoor position has grown.

To find out more, we spoke with ob-gyn Lauren F. Streicher, MD, director of the Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. There are a few risks involved with anal that women need to know, she says.

“Let’s face it, the anus was not made for intercourse. It’s supposed to be a one-way passage,” Dr. Streicher points out. The vagina, on the other hand, “has a thick, elastic, accordion-like lining designed to stretch to accommodate a penis, or a baby.”

Rectal tissue is thinner and doesn’t share the same elasticity, so there’s a greater chance it can tear, says Dr. Streicher, who is the author of Sex Rx. And tearing increases your odds of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

Rectal gonorrhea, anal chlamydia, and are all real risks. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior for HIV infections.” But anal sex is perhaps most likely to transmit the . “Very few heterosexual men have HIV, but over half of men have HPV,” says Dr. Streicher. HPV can cause anal warts and anal cancer.

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What’s more, she points out, you’re probably not going to get screened for anal STIs at your doctor—unless he or she specifically asks if you’re having anal sex (unlikely) or you specifically request those tests.

Then there’s pain, bleeding, and fecal incontinence. “Poop in your pants is not a nice thing to talk about,” says Dr. Streicher. She points to new research from a team at Northwestern University that found that women who considered anal part of their regular bedroom behavior were more likely to say it changed the consistency of their stools, and report both urinary and fecal incontinence.

But if you’re interested in trying anal sex, or giving it another whirl with your partner, what’s the safest way? Use protection no matter what, says Dr. Streicher. “As a gynecologist, I tell people even if you are in a monogamous relationship, you should always use a condom for anal sex.” And if you have vaginal sex after anal, have your partner put on a new condom to protect against the likelihood of a urinary tract infection.