Sex differences and similarities in frequency and intensity of sexual desire

Pamela C. Regan1, Leah Atkins1
1California State University, United States
Cite this article:  Regan, P. C., & Atkins, L. (2006). Sex differences and similarities in frequency and intensity of sexual desire. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 34, 95-102.

Volume 34 Issue 1 | e1460 | Published: February 2006 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2006.34.1.95

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Only within the past decade have social scientists commonly recognized the phenomenon of sexual desire as a distinct and vital component of human sexual response. Of the various factors believed to be associated with sexual desire, gender (biological sex) is presumed by many theorists to be one of the most important. Limited empirical work suggests that men experience desire more frequently than do women; however, sex differences in intensity or level of desire have yet to be examined. In this study we explored both the self-reported frequency and intensity of sexual desire among an ethnically diverse sample of 676 men and women. As hypothesized, men reported experiencing a higher overall level of sexual desire than did women. Sex differences also were found with respect to frequency of sexual desire. Men reported experiencing sexual desire more often than did women and, when asked to estimate the actual frequency with which they experienced desire, men’s estimated frequency (37 times per week) was significantly higher than women’s (9 times per week). These results do not imply that men always feel desire or that women lack sexual desire. In fact, virtually every participant in this study reported feeling sexual desire on a regular basis. This suggests that desire may be the most universal sexual response experienced by both men and women.

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