In humans, sexual intercourse and sexual activity in general have been reported as having health benefits as varied as increased immunity by increasing the body’s production of antibodies and subsequent lower blood pressure, and decreased risk of prostate cancer. Sexual intimacy and orgasms increase levels of the hormone oxytocin (also known as “the love hormone”), which can help people bond and build trust. A long-term study of 3,500 people between ages 18 and 102 by clinical neuropsychologist David Weeks indicated that, based on impartial ratings of the subjects’ photographs, sex on a regular basis helps people look significantly chronologically younger.
Sexual intercourse, when involving a male participant, often ends when the male has ejaculated, and thus the partner might not have time to reach orgasm. In addition, premature ejaculation (PE) is common, and women often require a substantially longer duration of stimulation with a sexual partner than men do before reaching an orgasm. Masters and Johnson found that men took approximately 4 minutes to reach orgasm with their partners; women took approximately 10–20 minutes to reach orgasm with their partners, but 4 minutes to reach orgasm when they masturbated. Scholars state “many couples are locked into the idea that orgasms should be achieved only through intercourse [penile-vaginal sex],” that “the word foreplay suggests that any other form of sexual stimulation is merely preparation for the ‘main event'” and that “[b]ecause women reach orgasm through intercourse less consistently than men,” they are likelier than men to fake an orgasm to satisfy their sexual partners.
In 1991, scholars from the Kinsey Institute stated, “The truth is that the time between penetration and ejaculation varies not only from man to man, but from one time to the next for the same man.” They added that the appropriate length for sexual intercourse is the length of time it takes for both partners to be mutually satisfied, emphasizing that Kinsey “found that 75 percent of men ejaculated within two minutes of penetration. But he didn’t ask if the men or their partners considered two minutes mutually satisfying” and “more recent research reports slightly longer times for intercourse”. A 2008 survey of Canadian and American sex therapists stated that the average time for heterosexual intercourse (coitus) was 7 minutes and that 1 to 2 minutes was too short, 3 to 7 minutes was adequate and 7 to 13 minutes desirable, while 10 to 30 minutes was too long.
Anorgasmia is regular difficulty reaching orgasm after ample sexual stimulation, causing personal distress. This is significantly more common in women than in men, which has been attributed to the lack of sex education with regard to women’s bodies, especially in sex-negative cultures, such as clitoral stimulation usually being key for women to orgasm. The physical structure of coitus favors penile stimulation over clitoral stimulation; the location of the clitoris then usually necessitates manual or oral stimulation in order for the female to achieve orgasm. Approximately 25% of women report difficulties with orgasm, 10% of women have never had an orgasm, and 40% or 40–50% have either complained about sexual dissatisfaction or experienced difficulty becoming sexually aroused at some point in their lives.
Vaginismus is involuntary tensing of the pelvic floor musculature, making coitus, or any form of penetration of the vagina, distressing, painful and sometimes impossible for women. It is a conditioned reflex of the pubococcygeus muscle, and is sometimes referred to as the PC muscle. Vaginismus can be hard to overcome because if a woman expects to experience pain during sexual intercourse this can cause a muscle spasm, which results in painful sexual intercourse. Treatment of vaginismus often includes both psychological and behavioral techniques, including the use of vaginal dilators. Additionally, the use of Botox as a medical treatment for vaginismus has been tested and administered. Painful or uncomfortable sexual intercourse may also be categorized as dyspareunia.
Approximately 40% of males reportedly suffer from some form of erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence, at least occasionally. Premature ejaculation has been reported to be more common than erectile dysfunction, although some estimates suggest otherwise. Due to various definitions of the disorder, estimates for the prevalence of premature ejaculation vary significantly more than for erectile dysfunction. For example, the Mayo Clinic states, “Estimates vary, but as many as 1 out of 3 men may be affected by [premature ejaculation] at some time.” Further, “Masters and Johnson speculated that premature ejaculation is the most common sexual dysfunction, even though more men seek therapy for erectile difficulties” and that this is because “although an estimated 15 percent to 20 percent of men experience difficulty controlling rapid ejaculation, most do not consider it a problem requiring help, and many women have difficulty expressing their sexual needs”.
The American Urological Association (AUA) estimates that premature ejaculation could affect 21 percent of men in the United States.
For those whose impotence is caused by medical conditions, prescription drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are available. However, doctors caution against the unnecessary use of these drugs because they are accompanied by serious risks such as increased chance of heart attack. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and antidepressant drug dapoxetine has been used to treat premature ejaculation. In clinical trials, those with PE who took dapoxetine experienced sexual intercourse three to four times longer before orgasm than without the drug. Another ejaculation-related disorder is delayed ejaculation, which can be caused as an unwanted side effect of antidepressant medications such as Fluvoxamine; however, all SSRIs have ejaculation-delaying effects, and Fluvoxamine has the least ejaculation-delaying effects.
Sexual intercourse remains possible after major medical treatment of the reproductive organs and structures. This is especially true for women. Even after extensive gynecological surgical procedures such as: hysterectomy, oophorectomy, salpingectomy, dilation and curettage, hymenotomy, Bartholin gland surgery, abscess removal, vestibulectomy, labia minora reduction, cervical conization, surgical and radiological cancer treatments and chemotherapy coitus can continue. Reconstructive surgery remains an option for women who have experienced benign and malignant conditions.
Obstacles that those with disabilities face with regard to engaging in sexual intercourse include pain, depression, fatigue, negative body image, stiffness, functional impairment, anxiety, reduced libido, hormonal imbalance, and drug treatment or side effects. Sexual functioning has been regularly identified as a neglected area of the quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. For those that must take opoids for pain control, sexual intercourse can become more difficult. Having a stroke can also largely impact on the ability to engage in sexual intercourse. Although disability-related pain, including as a result of cancer, and mobility impairment can hamper sexual intercourse, in many cases, the most significant impediments to sexual intercourse for individuals with a disability are psychological. In particular, people who have a disability can find sexual intercourse daunting due to issues involving their self-concept as a sexual being, or a partner’s discomfort or perceived discomfort. Temporary difficulties can arise with alcohol and sex, as alcohol can initially increase interest through disinhibition but decrease capacity with greater intake; however, disinhibition can vary depending on the culture.
The mentally disabled also are subject to challenges in participating in sexual intercourse. Women with Intellectual disabilities (ID) are often presented with situations that prevent sexual intercourse. This can include the lack of a knowledgeable healthcare provider trained and experienced in counseling those with ID on sexual intercourse. Those with ID may have hesitations regarding the discussion of the topic of sex, a lack of sexual knowledge and limited opportunities for sex education. In addition there are other barriers such as a higher prevalence of sexual abuse and assault. These crimes often remain underreported. There remains a lack of “dialogue around this population’s human right to consensual sexual expression, undertreatment of menstrual disorders, and legal and systemic barriers”. Women with ID may lack sexual health care and sex education. They may not recognize sexual abuse. Consensual sexual intercourse is not always an option for some. Those with ID may have limited knowledge and access to contraception, screening for sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer.
Some researchers, such as Alex Comfort, posit three potential advantages or social effects of sexual intercourse in humans, which are not mutually exclusive; these are reproductive, relational, and recreational. While the development of the birth-control pill and other highly effective forms of contraception in the mid to late 20th century increased people’s ability to segregate these three functions, they still significantly overlap and in complex patterns. For example: A fertile couple may have sexual intercourse while contracepting not only to experience sexual pleasure (recreational), but also as a means of emotional intimacy (relational), thus deepening their bonding, making their relationship more stable and more capable of sustaining children in the future (deferred reproductive). This couple may emphasize different aspects of sexual intercourse on different occasions, being playful during one episode of sexual intercourse (recreational), experiencing deep emotional connection on another occasion (relational), and later, after discontinuing contraception, seeking to achieve pregnancy (reproductive, or more likely reproductive and relational).
Sexual dissatisfaction due to the lack of sexual intercourse is associated with increased risk of divorce and relationship dissolution, especially for men. Some research, however, indicates that general dissatisfaction with marriage for men results if their wives flirted with, erotically kissed or became romantically or sexually involved with another man (infidelity), and that this is especially the case for men with a lower emotional and composite marital satisfaction. Other studies report that the lack of sexual intercourse does not significantly result in divorce, though it is commonly one of the various contributors to it. According to the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), men whose most recent sexual encounter was with a relationship partner reported greater arousal, greater pleasure, fewer problems with erectile function, orgasm, and less pain during the event than men whose last sexual encounter was with a non-relationship partner.
For women, there is often a complaint about the lack of their spouses’ sexual spontaneity. Decreased sexual activity among these women may be the result of their perceived failure to maintain ideal physical attractiveness or because their sexual partners’ health issues have hindered sexual intercourse. Some women express that their most satisfying sexual experiences entail being connected to someone, rather than solely basing satisfaction on orgasm. With regard to divorce, women are more likely to divorce their spouses for a one-night stand or various infidelities if they are in less cooperative or high-conflict marriages.
Research additionally indicates that non-married couples who are cohabiting engage in sexual intercourse more often than married couples, and are more likely to participate in sexual activity outside of their sexual relationships; this may be due to the “honeymoon” effect (the newness or novelty of sexual intercourse with the partner), since sexual intercourse is usually practiced less the longer a couple is married, with couples engaging in sexual intercourse or other sexual activity once or twice a week, or approximately six to seven times a month. Sexuality in older age also affects the frequency of sexual intercourse, as older people generally engage in sexual intercourse less frequently than younger people do.
Regarding adolescent sexuality, sexual intercourse is usually for relational and recreational purposes as well. However, teenage pregnancy is often disparaged, and research suggests that the earlier onset of puberty for children puts pressure on children and teenagers to act like adults before they are emotionally or cognitively ready. Some studies have concluded that engaging in sexual intercourse leaves adolescents, especially girls, with higher levels of stress and depression, and that girls may be likelier to engage in sexual risk (such as sexual intercourse without the use of a condom), but it may be that further research is needed in these areas. In some countries, such as the United States, sex education and abstinence-only sex education curricula are available to educate adolescents about sexual activity; these programs are controversial, as debate exists as to whether or not teaching children and adolescents about sexual intercourse or other sexual activity should only be left up to parents or other caregivers.
One group of Canadian researchers found a relationship between self-esteem and sexual activity. They found that students, especially girls, who were verbally abused by teachers or rejected by their peers were more likely than other students to engage in sex by the end of Grade 7. The researchers speculate that low self-esteem increases the likelihood of sexual activity: “low self-esteem seemed to explain the link between peer rejection and early sex. Girls with a poor self-image may see sex as a way to become ‘popular’, according to the researchers”.
In India, there is evidence that adolescents are becoming more sexually active outside of marriage, which is feared to lead to an increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescents, as well as the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and add to the conflict between contemporary social values. In India, adolescents have relatively poor access to health care and education, and with cultural norms opposing extramarital sexual behavior, “these implications may acquire threatening dimensions for the society and the nation”.
Positive views on adolescent sexual intercourse and other sexual behavior among adolescents have also been expressed. Psychiatrist Lynn Ponton writes, “All adolescents have sex lives, whether they are sexually active with others, with themselves, or seemingly not at all,” and that viewing adolescent sexuality as a potentially positive experience, rather than as something inherently dangerous, may help young people develop healthier patterns and make more positive choices regarding sexual activity. Similarly, researchers state that long-term romantic relationships allow adolescents to gain the skills necessary for high-quality relationships later in life and develop feelings of self-worth. Overall, positive romantic relationships among adolescents can result in long-term benefits. High-quality romantic relationships are associated with higher commitment in early adulthood and are positively associated with self-esteem, self-confidence, and social competence.
The average number of partners during a life is 13.
The age of the first sexual intercourse (in the strict sense) also tends to fall and to become equal change from 21-year-old for the men and 19 years old for the girls to 17-year-old boys ½ for both. A “sexual youth” begins then.
Extract from : The awesome lover’s manual