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Women's desire "is more contextual, more subjective, more layered on a lattice of emotion," Perel adds.Men, by contrast, don't need to have nearly as much imagination, Perel says, since sex is simpler and more straightforward for them.
But women also appear to be heavily influenced by social and cultural factors as well."They won't necessarily do it, but they have the capacity." Bailey's idea is backed up by studies showing that homosexuality is a more fluid state among women than men.In another broad review of studies, Baumeister found many more lesbians reported recent sex with men, when compared to gay men's reports of sex with women.Men are more likely to seek sex even when it's frowned upon or even outlawed: What turns women on? Northwestern University researcher Meredith Chivers and colleagues showed erotic films to gay and straight men and women.They asked them about their level of sexual arousal, and also measured their actual level of arousal through devices attached to their genitals.Birds do it, bees do it, and men do it any old time. The sources of women's libidos, by contrast, are much harder to pin down.
But women will only do it if the candles are scented just right -- and their partner has done the dishes first. It's common wisdom that women place more value on emotional connection as a spark of sexual desire.
In a survey of studies comparing male and female sex drives, Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University, found that men reported more spontaneous sexual arousal and had more frequent and varied fantasies.
"Men want sex more often than women at the start of a relationship, in the middle of it, and after many years of it," Baumeister concludes after reviewing several surveys of men and women.
"Sexual desire in women is extremely sensitive to environment and context," says Edward O. He is a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and lead author of a major survey of sexual practices, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States.
Here are seven patterns of men's and women's sex drives that researchers have found.
This isn't just true of heterosexuals, he says; gay men also have sex more often than lesbians at all stages of the relationship.