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10 Fascinating Things About Sex, Lust and Love You Probably Didn't Know

Science has come a long way in understand sexuality.

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So what's the secret behind those extra five and a half minutes? Men with excess fat also pack higher levels of the female sex hormone estradiol. One hypothesis is that this substance interferes with the the body's ability to achieve orgasm... at least for a few minutes.

6. The seven year itch may not be a myth
Originally made famous in  the 1955 film by the same name, the phrase "seven-year-itch" is used to describe the tendency for someone to become unsatisfied with their partner or marriage after a period of seven years, at which point they may feel an urge to move on.

If you're measuring by way of divorce, the myth of the seven year itch may not be a myth after all; according to the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau,  the median duration of first marriages that end in divorce is 7.9 years.

7. We will actively avoid temptation
Even if the seven year itch is real, evidence also suggests that  men and women will actually avert their attention from tempting alternatives to their partners — even if this aversion is subconscious.

In a study published in 2008, psychologist Jon K. Maner showed male and female test subjects pictures of faces on a computer screen for half a second, followed immediately by a circle or square on some other region of the computer screen, which they were asked to identify by pressing a corresponding keyboard key as quickly and accurately as possible.

The results show that the gazes of single, heterosexual men and women were liable to linger on photographs of attractive members of the opposite sex, in what the researchers refer to as a high level of "attentional adhesion." But the test subjects who were already in relationships reacted differently, and actually looked away from attractive faces more quickly; in fact, some test participants in relationships turned their attention away from "attractive" members of the opposite sex more quickly than they did from "average" looking faces.

8. Masturbation starts in utero
Those of you flying solo  should know that masturbation is nothing to be ashamed of — in fact, there's a good chance you've been practicing it since you were in the womb. What you see here is a sonographic image from a paper titled " Sonographic observation of in utero fetal 'masturbation.'" In the image on the left, the baby's hand can be seen hovering above the penis. In the image on the right, the yellow arrow shows the hand engaged in what researcher Israel Meizner describes as "the hand grasping the penis in a fashion resembling masturbation movement."

"Bear in mind," explains Mary Roach — author of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex — at  her TED talk on things you didn't know about orgasms, "this was an ultrasound, so [Meizner would have observed] moving images." [figure by Meizner et al via  TED

9. There's more to the clitoris than you probably realize
If you picture a clitoris in your mind, there's a good chance that what you're imagining is actually the tip of a bigger, internal clitoral iceberg — a sexual organ that is much larger than the sensitive bundle of nerve endings on the outside of the body (the tiny part of this diagram which is labeled as "Glans") would lead you to believe.

We covered the enigmatic clitoris in greater detail  here but the upshot is that prior to the late 90s, researchers had never studied the internal structure of an excited clitoris. In fact, it wasn't until 2009 that scientists produced the first 3D sonography of a stimulated clitoris. The sexual organ is depicted here in its excited state in an illustration by the Museum of Sex Blog's Ms. M, which she drew for  this fascinating post on the internal clitoris. Do yourself a favor and go educate yourself.

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