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Sex differences in sexual needs and desires


Female and male responses on attitudes toward foreplay prior to sexual intercourse, sexual intercourse, and afterplay following sexual intercourse, were compared. Foreplay was defined as the sexual activity that occurs before sexual intercourse, whereas afterplay was defined as the interaction such as hugging, holding, talking, and so forth that occurs after sexual intercourse. The subjects were 39 men and 49 women students enrolled in various courses at the University of Kansas. The mean age of the men was 22.1 years, while the women averaged 21.0 years. A voluntary questionnaire was given to the students, and they were asked to fill it out at home and return it during the next class meeting. The results indicated that there were significant sex differences in sexual needs and desires. When given a choice between foreplay, intercourse, and afterplay, women indicated that foreplay was the most important part of a sexual encounter, while men felt intercourse was the most important aspect. Women also indicated that they wanted to spend more time in foreplay, as well as more time in afterplay, than did men. It is concluded from this study that women are more likely than men to report enjoying both foreplay and afterplay more than intercourse, while men are more likely to report enjoying intercourse.

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This research was supported by a General Research Fund grant from the University of Kansas.

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Denney, N.W., Field, J.K. & Quadagno, D. Sex differences in sexual needs and desires. Arch Sex Behav 13, 233–245 (1984).

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Key words

  • foreplay
  • sexual intercourse
  • afterplay
  • sex differences
  • male
  • female