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Human sexuality

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Title: Human sexuality  
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Human sexuality

Human sexuality is the capacity of humans to have erotic experiences and responses. A person's sexual orientation can influence their sexual interest and attraction for another person.[1] Sexuality may be experienced and expressed in a variety of ways; including thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles, and relationships.[2] These may manifest themselves in biological, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual aspects. The biological and physical aspects of sexuality largely concern the human reproductive functions, including the human sexual response cycle and the basic biological drive that exists in all species.[3] Physical and emotional aspects of sexuality include bonds between individuals that is expressed through profound feelings or physical manifestations of love, trust, and care. Social aspects deal with the effects of human society on one's sexuality, while spirituality concerns an individual's spiritual connection with others. Sexuality also impacts and is impacted upon by cultural, political, legal, philosophical, moral, ethical, and religious aspects of life.

Sexual activity is a vital principle of human living that connects the desires, pleasures, and energy of the body with a knowledge of human intimacy. This results in erotic love, intimate friendship, human mating, and procreation. Interest in sexual activity typically increases when an individual reaches puberty.[4] Opinions differ on the origins of an individual's sexual orientation and sexual behavior. Some argue that sexuality is determined by genetics; some believe it is molded by the environment, and others argue that both of these factors interact to form the individual's sexual orientation.[1] This pertains to the nature versus nurture debate. In the former, one assumes that the features of a person innately correspond to their natural inheritance, exemplified by drives and instincts; the latter refers to the assumption that the features of a person continue to change throughout their development and nurturing, exemplified by ego ideals and formative identifications.

Genetic studies work on the premise that a difference in alleles corresponds to a variation in traits among people.[5] In the study of human chromosomes in human sexuality, research has shown that "ten percent of the population has chromosomal variations that do not fit neatly into the XX-female and XY-male set of categories".[6]

Evolutionary perspectives on human coupling, reproduction and reproduction strategies, and social learning theory provide further views of sexuality.[7] Socio-cultural aspects of sexuality include historical developments and religious beliefs. Examples include Jewish views on sexual pleasure within marriage and some views of other religions on avoidance of sexual pleasures.[3] Some cultures have been described as sexually repressive. The study of sexuality also includes human identity within social groups, sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), and birth control methods.

Contents

  • Nature-versus-nurture debate 1
    • Sigmund Freud 1.1
    • John Locke 1.2
  • Biological and physiological aspects 2
    • Physical anatomy and reproduction 2.1
      • Brain 2.1.1
      • Female anatomy and reproductive system 2.1.2
        • External female anatomy 2.1.2.1
        • Internal female anatomy 2.1.2.2
      • Male anatomy and reproductive system 2.1.3
        • External male anatomy 2.1.3.1
        • Internal male anatomy 2.1.3.2
    • Sexual response cycle 2.2
    • Sexual dysfunction and sexual problems 2.3
  • Psychological aspects 3
  • Sexuality and age 4
    • Child sexuality 4.1
    • Sexuality in late adulthood 4.2
  • Sociocultural aspects 5
    • Religious sexual morality 5.1
      • Attitude by religion 5.1.1
    • Sexuality in history 5.2
    • Reproductive and sexual rights 5.3
  • Sexual behavior 6
    • General activities and health 6.1
    • Creating a relationship 6.2
    • Sexual attraction 6.3
    • Legal issues 6.4
      • Sexual privacy 6.4.1
  • See also 7
  • Footnotes 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Nature-versus-nurture debate

Certain characteristics are believed to be innate in humans; these characteristics may be modified by the physical and social environment in which people interact.[8] Human sexuality is driven by genetics and mental activity. The sexual drive affects the development of personal identity and social activities.[9][10] An individual's normative, social, cultural, educational, and environmental characteristics moderate the sexual drive.[9] Two well-known theorists have taken opposing positions in the nature-versus-nurture debate. Sigmund Freud believed sexual drives are instinctive. Freud was a firm supporter of the nature argument; he viewed sexuality as the central source of human personality. John Locke believed in the nurture argument. Locke used his theory of the mind as a "tabula rasa" or blank slate: the environment is where one develops one's sexual drives.[11]

Sigmund Freud

Freud's theory assumed that behavior is rooted in biology. He proposed that instincts are the principal motivating forces in the mental realm. He said there are a large number of instincts but they are reduced into two broad groups;

  • "Examining the Relationship Between Media Use and Aggression, Sexuality, and Body Image," Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 3.
  • Glossario di sessuologia clinica – Glossary of clinical sexology
  • International Encyclopedia of Sexuality full text
  • Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas [full text]
  • Masters, William H., Virginia E. Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny. Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of AIDS. First ed. New York: Grove Press, 1988. ix, 243 p. ISBN 0-8021-1049-5
  • National Sexuality Resource Center
  • Durex Global Sex Survey 2005 at data360.org
  • POPLINE is a searchable database of the world's reproductive health literature.
  • The Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality at the Kinsey Institute
  • The Sexuality and Rights Institute
  • The South and Southeast Asia Resource Centre on Sexuality
  • MRI Video of Human Copulation
  • Young, Wayland. Eros Denied: Sex in Western Society. First paperback ed. New York: Grove Press, 1966, cop. 1964. 370 p.

External links

Niall Richardson, Clarissa Smith and Angela Werndly (2013) Studying Sexualities: Theories, Representations, Cultures (London: Palgrave MacMillan)

Further reading

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  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai Human Sexuality Today by Bruce M. King (2013; ISBN 978-0-13-604245-7)
  4. ^ Carlson, Neil R. and C. Donald Heth. "Psychology: the Science of Behaviour." 4th Edition. Toronto: Pearson Canada Inc., 2007. 684.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York City: Routledge, 1990. 107,
  7. ^ Sexual Strategies Theory: An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Mating by David M. Buss and David P. Schmitt
  8. ^ Csongradi, C. (n.d.). A new look at an old debate. access excellence. retrieved 12 November 2011, from www.accessexcellence.org/LC/SER/BE/whata.php
  9. ^ a b Boccadoro L., Carulli S., (2008) Il posto dell'amore negato. (The place of the denied love. Sexuality and secret psychopathologies – Abstract). Tecnoprint Editrice, Ancona. ISBN 978-88-95554-03-7
  10. ^ Deleuze and Guattari (1972) Anti-Oedipus pp. 322, 114–5
  11. ^ a b c d Crain, W. C. (1980). Theories of development: concepts and applications (fifth edition ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
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  18. ^ Ellen Ross, Rayna Rapp Sex and Society: A Research Note from Social History and Anthropology Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Jan. 1981), pp. 51–72
  19. ^ a b c Rathus, Spencer A., Jeffrey S. Nevid, and Lois Fichner-Rathus. 2007. Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity. Allyn & Bacon.
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  26. ^ Human Reproductive Biology by Mark M. Jones (2012), p. 63.
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  45. ^ Buss, D.M. (2002) Human mating strategies. Samdunfsokonemen, 4: 48–58.
  46. ^ Farrell, W. (1988) Why Men Are The Way They Are, New York: Berkley Books
  47. ^ a b Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. O. (2007). Introduction to psychology: gateways to mind and behavior (11th ed.). Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth.
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  49. ^ a b c d King, B. (2009). Human Sexuality Today (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.
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  51. ^ a b c Santrock, J.W. (2008). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development (4thed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  52. ^ Bretherton, Inge. "The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth." Developmental psychology 28.5 (1992): 759.
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  62. ^ Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, no. 49: AAS 58 (1966), 1070
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  64. ^ Peter N. Stearns "Major Patterns of Change and Continuity: World History in Brief"
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  66. ^ [1], Article titled "Sex: What Muslim women really want in the bedroom", by Shelina Janmohamed, The Telegraph, May 2, 2013, accessed on 23 September 2015.
  67. ^ 100 Interesting Facts About Islam
  68. ^ Sex in reference to Quran by A Taha, Accessed on 22 October 2015
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  70. ^ .Kama SutraCommon misconceptions about "The Kama Sutra is neither exclusively a sex manual nor, as also commonly used art, a sacred or religious work. It is certainly not a tantric text. In opening with a discussion of the three aims of ancient Hindu life – dharma, artha and kama – Vatsyayana's purpose is to set kama, or enjoyment of the senses, in context. Thus dharma or virtuous living is the highest aim, artha, the amassing of wealth is next, and kama is the least of three." —Indra Sinha.
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  74. ^ Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture, p. 175, at Google Books
  75. ^ a b c d e f Stearns, Peter N. Sexuality in World History, ISBN 9780415777773.
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  83. ^ Wood, H. Sex Cells Nature Reviews Neuroscience 4, 88 (February 2003) | doi:10.1038/nrn1044
  84. ^ Doheny, K. (2008) "10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex," WebMD (reviewed by Chang, L., M.D.)
  85. ^ Light, K.C. et al., "More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women." Biological Psychology, April 2005; vol 69: pp 5–21.
  86. ^ Charnetski CJ, Brennan FX. Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychological Reports 2004 Jun;94(3 Pt 1):839-44. Data on length of relationship and sexual satisfaction were not related to the group differences.
  87. ^ Michael F. Leitzmann; Edward Giovannucci. Frequency of Ejaculation and Risk of Prostate Cancer—Reply. JAMA. (2004);292:329.
  88. ^ Leitzmann MF, Platz EA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Giovannucci E. Ejaculation Frequency and Subsequent Risk of Prostate Cancer. JAMA. (2004);291(13):1578–1586.
  89. ^ Giles GG, Severi G, English DR, McCredie MR, Borland R, Boyle P, Hopper JL. Sexual factors and prostate cancer. BJU Int. (2003);92(3):211-6.PMID 12887469
  90. ^ Lee HJ, Macbeth AH, Pagani JH, Young WS 3rd. Oxytocin: the great facilitator of life. Prog Neurobiol. (2009);88(2):127-51. PMID 19482229
  91. ^ Riley AJ. Oxytocin and coitus. Sexual and Relationship Therapy (1988);3:29–36
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  96. ^ "Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)". U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
  97. ^ a b Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2008. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; November 2009.Fact Sheet
  98. ^ World Health Organization Fact Sheet on Sexually Transmitted Diseases. [2] Accessed 27 May 2010
  99. ^ Weinstock H, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health (2004);36(1):6–10.
  100. ^ Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls. The New York Times. 12 March 2008.
  101. ^ CDC. Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10–24 Years —United States, 2002–2007. MMWR 20009; 58 (No. SS-6):1–59 [3]
  102. ^ Yarnall KS, McBride CM, Lyna P, Fish LJ, Civic D, Grothaus L, Scholes D. Factors associated with condom use among at-risk women students and nonstudents seen in managed care. Prev Med. (2003);37(2):163-70.PMID 12855216
  103. ^ SIRC Guide to Flirting. What Social Science can tell you about flirting and how to do it. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
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Footnotes

See also

State intervention with regards to sexuality also occurs, and is considered acceptable by some, in certain instances (e.g. same-sex sexual activity or prostitution).[105]

While the issue of privacy has been useful to sexual rights claims, some scholars have criticized its usefulness, saying that this perspective is too narrow and restrictive. The law is often slow to intervene in certain forms of coercive behavior that can limit individuals' control over their own sexuality (such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages or lack of access to reproductive health care). Many of these injustices are often perpetuated wholly or in part by private individuals rather than state agents, and as a result, there is an ongoing debate about the extent of state responsibility to prevent harmful practices and to investigate such practices when they do occur.[105]

Sexual privacy

Issues regarding human sexuality and human sexual orientation became entrenched in law in the Western world by the latter half of the twentieth century, as part of the gay liberation movement encouraging LGBT individuals to "come out of the closet" and engaging with the legal system, primarily through courts. Therefore, many issues regarding human sexuality and the law are found in the opinions of the courts.[106]

The law regulates human sexuality in several ways, including: the criminal status of certain sexual behaviors; granting individuals the privacy or autonomy of individuals to make their own sexual decisions; protections regarding equality and non-discrimination; the recognition and protection of certain individuals' rights; legislation regarding marriage and the family; the status of laws protecting individuals from violence, harassment and persecution.[105]

Legal issues

Sexual attraction

  • Flirting, the attraction of the sexual attention of another to encourage romance or sexual relations. It can involve body language, conversation, joking, or brief physical contact.[103]
  • Seduction, the process whereby one person deliberately entices another to engage in sexual behavior.[104]

People both consciously and subconsciously seek to attract others with whom they can form deep relationships. This may be for companionship, procreation, or an intimate relationship. This involves interactive processes whereby people find and attract potential partners and maintain a relationship. These processes, which involve attracting one or more partners and maintaining sexual interest, can include:

The Flirt, by Eugene de Blaas

Creating a relationship

Sexual intercourse can also be a disease vector.[96] There are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) every year in the U.S.,[97] and worldwide there are over 340 million STD infections each year.[98] More than half of these occur in adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 years.[99] At least one in four U.S. teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.[97][100] In the U.S., about 30% of 15–17-year olds have had sexual intercourse, but only about 80% of 15–19-year olds report using condoms for their first sexual intercourse.[101] In one study, more than 75% of young women age 18–25 years felt they were at low risk of acquiring an STD.[102]

[95][94][93] in Scotland, said he found that "sex helps you look between four and seven years younger", according to impartial ratings of the subjects' photographs. Exclusive causation, however, is unclear, and the benefits may be indirectly related to sex and directly related to significant reductions in stress, greater contentment, and better sleep that sex promotes.Royal Edinburgh Hospital A long-term study of 3,500 people between ages 30 and 101 by clinical neuropsychologist David Weeks, MD, head of old-age psychology at the [92][91][90] [83] In humans, sexual intercourse and sexual activity in general have been shown to have health benefits, such as an improved sense of smell,

General activities and health

Sexual behavior

Reproductive and sexual rights encompass the concept of applying human rights to issues related to reproduction and sexuality.[76] This concept is a modern one, and remains controversial, especially outside the West, since it deals, directly and indirectly, with issues such as contraception, LGBT rights, abortion, sex education, freedom to choose a partner, freedom to decide whether to be sexually active or not, right to bodily integrity, freedom to decide whether or not, and when, to have children.[77][78][79] According to the Swedish government, "sexual rights include the right of all people to decide over their own bodies and sexuality" and "reproductive rights comprise the right of individuals to decide on the number of children they have and the intervals at which they are born."[80] Such rights are not accepted in all cultures, with practices such criminalization of consensual sexual activities (such as those related to homosexual acts and sexual acts outside marriage), acceptance of forced marriage and child marriage, failure to criminalize all non-consensual sexual encounters (such as marital rape), female genital mutilation, or restricted availability of contraception, being common around the world.[81][82]

Reproductive and sexual rights

Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University continues to be a major center for the study of human sexuality.[3] Before William Masters, a physician, and Virginia Johnson, a behavioral scientist, the study of anatomy and physiological studies of sex was still limited to experiments with laboratory animals. Masters and Johnson started to directly observe and record the physical responses in humans that are engaged in sexual activity under laboratory settings. They observed 10,000 episodes of sexual acts between 312 men and 382 women. This led to methods of treating clinical problems and abnormalities. Masters and Johnson opened the first sex therapy clinic in 1965. In 1970, they described their therapeutic techniques in their book, Human Sexual Inadequacy.[3]

During the beginning of the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, many changes in sexual standards occurred. New, dramatic, artificial birth control devices such as the condom and diaphragm were introduced. Doctors started claiming a new role in sexual matters, urging that their advice was crucial to sexual morality and health. New pornographic industries grew and Japan adopted its first laws against homosexuality. In western societies, the definition of homosexuality was constantly changing; western influence on other cultures became more prevalent. New contacts created serious issues around sexuality and sexual traditions. There were also major shifts in sexual behavior. During this period, puberty began occurring at younger ages, so a new focus on adolescence as a time of sexual confusion and danger emerged. There was a new focus on the purpose of marriage; it was increasing regarded as being for love rather than only for economics and reproduction.[75]

Once agricultural societies emerged, the sexual framework shifted in ways that persisted for many millennia in much of Asia, Africa, Europe, and parts of the Americas. One common characteristic new to these societies was the collective supervision of sexual behavior due to urbanization, and the growth of population and population density. Children would commonly witness parents having sex because many families shared the same sleeping quarters. Due to landownership, determination of children's paternity became important, and society and family life became patriarchal. These changes in sexual ideology were used to control female sexuality and to differentiate standards by gender. With these ideologies, sexual possessiveness and increases in jealousy emerged. With the domestication of animals, new opportunities for bestiality arose. Males mostly performed these types of sexual acts and many societies acquired firm rules against it. These acts also explain the many depictions of half-human, half-animal mythical creatures, and the sports of gods and goddesses with animals.[75] While retaining the precedents of earlier civilizations, each classical civilization established a somewhat distinctive approach to gender, artistic expression of sexual beauty, and to behaviors such as homosexuality. Some of these distinctions are portrayed in sex manuals, which were also common among civilizations in China, Greece, Rome, Persia, and India; each has its own sexual history.[75]

Before the rise of agriculture, groups of hunter/gatherers (H/G) and nomads inhabited the world. Within these groups, some implications of male dominance existed, but there were signs that women were active participants in sexuality, with bargaining power of their own. These hunter/gatherers had less restrictive sexual standards that emphasized sexual pleasure and enjoyment, but with definite rules and constraints. Some underlying continuities or key regulatory standards contended with the tension between recognition of pleasure, interest, and the need to procreate for the sake of social order and economic survival. H/G groups also placed high value on certain types of sexual symbolism. Two common tensions in H/G societies are expressed in their art, which emphasizes male sexuality and prowess, with equally common tendencies to blur gender lines in sexual matters. One example of these male-dominated portrayals is the Egyptian creation myth, in which the sun god Atum masturbates in the water, creating the Nile River. In Sumerian myth, the Gods' semen filled the Tigris.[75]

Sexuality has been an important vital part of human existence throughout history.[75] All civilizations have managed sexuality through sexual standards, representations, and behavior.[75]

Min: the ancient Egyptian god of fertility
The prehistoric Venus of Willendorf
İnandık Vase from 17th century BC. depicts a sacred marriage ceremony, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara- Turkey[74]

Sexuality in history

Sikhism views chastity as important, as Sikhs believe that the divine spark of Waheguru is present inside every individual's body, therefore it is important for one to keep clean and pure. Sexual activity is limited to married couples, and extramarital sex is forbidden. Marriage is seen as a commitment to Waheguru and should be viewed as part of spiritual companionship, rather than just sexual intercourse, and monogamy is deeply emphasised in Sikhism. Any other way of living is discouraged, including celibacy and homosexuality. However, in comparison to other religions, the issue of sexuality in Sikhism is not considered one of paramount importance.[73]

Hinduism emphasizes that sex is only appropriate between husband and wife, in which satisfying sexual urges through sexual pleasure is an important duty of marriage. Any sex before marriage is considered to interfere with intellectual development, especially between birth and the age of 25, which is said to be brahmacharya and this should be avoided. Kama (sensual pleasures) is one of the four purusharthas or aims of life (dharma, artha, kama, and moksha).[69] The Hindu Kama Sutra deals partially with sexual intercourse; it is not exclusively a sexual or religious work.[70][71][72]

In Islam, sexual desire is considered to be a natural urge that should not be suppressed, although the concept of free sex is not accepted; these urges should be fulfilled responsibly. Marriage is considered to be a good deed; it does not hinder spiritual wayfaring. The term used for marriage within the Quran is nikah, which literally means sexual intercourse. Although Islamic sexuality is restrained via Islamic sexual jurisprudence, it emphasizes sexual pleasure within marriage. It is acceptable for a man to have more than one wife, but he must take care of those wives physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.[64] Muslims believe that sexual intercourse is an act of worship that fulfils emotional and physical needs, and that producing children is one way in which humans can contribute to God's creation, and Islam discourages celibacy once an individual is married. However, homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam, and some Muslim lawyers have suggested that gay people should be put to death.[65] On the other hand, some have argued that Islam has an open and playful approach to sex[66][67] so long as it is within marriage, free of lewdness, fornication and adultery. For many Muslims, sex with reference to the Quran indicates that – bar anal intercourse and adultery – a Muslim marital home bonded by Nikah marital contract between husband and his wife(s) should enjoy and even indulge, within the privacy of their marital home, in limitless scope of heterosexual sexual acts within a monogamous or polygamous marriage.[68]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that sexuality is "noble and worthy"[62] but that it must be used in accordance with natural law. For this reason, all sexual activity must occur in the context of a marriage between a man and a woman, and must not be divorced from the possibility of conception. All forms of sex without the possibility of conception are considered intrinsically disordered and sinful, such as the use of contraceptives, masturbation, and homosexual acts.[63]

According to Judaism, sex between man and woman within marriage is sacred and should be enjoyed; celibacy is considered sinful.[3]

Attitude by religion

On the other hand, most religious liberals define sexuality-related labels in terms of sexual attraction and self-identification.[60] They may also view same-sex activity as morally neutral and legally acceptable as opposite-sex activity, unrelated to mental illness, genetically or environmentally caused (but not as the result of bad parenting), and fixed. They also tend to be more in favor of same-sex marriage.[61]

Many religious conservatives, especially those of Abrahamic religions and Christianity in particular, tend to view sexuality in terms of behavior (i.e. homosexuality or heterosexuality is what someone does) and certain sexualities such as bisexuality tend to be ignored as a result of this. These conservatives tend to promote celibacy for gay people and may also tend to believe that sexuality can be changed through conversion therapy[60] or prayer to become an ex-gay. They may also see homosexuality as a form of mental illness, something that ought to be criminalised, an immoral abomination, caused by ineffective parenting, and view same-sex marriage as a threat to society.[61]

In some religions, sexual behavior is regarded as primarily spiritual. In others it is treated as primarily physical. Some hold that sexual behavior is only spiritual within certain kinds of relationships, when used for specific purposes, or when incorporated into religious ritual. In some religions there are no distinctions between the physical and the spiritual, whereas some religions view human sexuality as a way of completing the gap that exists between the spiritual and the physical.[59]

Religious sexual morality

The age and manner in which children are informed of issues of sexuality is a matter of sex education. The school systems in almost all developed countries have some form of sex education, but the nature of the issues covered varies widely. In some countries, such as Australia and much of Europe, age-appropriate sex education often begins in pre-school, whereas other countries leave sex education to the pre-teenage and teenage years.[58] Sex education covers a range of topics, including the physical, mental, and social aspects of sexual behavior. Geographic location also plays a role in society's opinion of the appropriate age for children to learn about sexuality. According to TIME magazine and CNN, 74% of teenagers in the United States reported that their major sources of sexual information were their peers and the media, compared to 10% who named their parents or a sex education course.[3]

The link between constructed sexual meanings and racial ideologies has been studied. Sexual meanings are constructed to maintain racial-ethnic-national boundaries by denigration of "others" and regulation of sexual behavior within the group. According to Joane Nagel, "Both adherence to and deviation from such approved behaviors, define and reinforce racial, ethnic, and nationalist regimes".[56][57]

Human sexuality can be understood as part of the social life of humans, which is governed by implied rules of behavior and the status quo. This narrows the view to groups within a society.[19] The socio-cultural context of society, including the effects of politics and the mass media, influences and forms social norms. Before the early 21st century, people fought for their civil rights. The civil rights movements helped to bring about massive changes in social norms; examples include the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism.[54][55]

Women's liberation demonstration, 1970

Sociocultural aspects

Adult sexuality originates in childhood. However, like many other human capacities, sexuality is not fixed, but matures and develops. A common stereotype suggests that people tend to lose interest in and ability to engage in sexual acts once they reach late adulthood. This stereotype is reinforced by Western pop culture, which often ridicules older adults who try to engage in sexual activities. Men are shown suffering heart attacks from over-excitement, and women are depicted as grateful if anyone shows an interest in them. The term "dirty old man" is applied to older men who show an interest in sex beyond a level the speaker considered appropriate . The language for older women, by contrast, is sexless, and older women are portrayed as sexually unattractive and undesirable. Sexuality, however, is similar to most other aspects of aging. Age does not necessarily change the need or desire to be sexually expressive or active. If a couple has been in a long-term relationship, the frequency of sexual activity may decrease, but not necessarily their satisfaction with each other. Many couples find that the type of sexual expression may change, and that with age and the term of relationship there is increased intimacy and love. If sex and sexual intimacy are important aspects in one's life during young and middle adulthood, they will continue to be factors in older adulthood.

Sexuality in late adulthood

Alfred Kinsey also examined child sexuality in his Kinsey Reports. Children are naturally curious about their bodies and sexual functions. For example, they wonder where babies come from, they notice the differences between males and females, and many engage in genital play, which is often mistaken for masturbation. Child sex play, also known as playing doctor, includes exhibiting or inspecting the genitals. Many children take part in some sex play, typically with siblings or friends.[51] Sex play with others usually decreases as children grow, but they may later possess romantic interest in their peers. Curiosity levels remain high during these years, but the main surge in sexual interest occurs in adolescence.[51]

In the past, children were often assumed not to have sexuality until later development. Sigmund Freud was one of the first researchers to take child sexuality seriously. His ideas, such as psychosexual development and the Oedipus conflict, have been much debated but acknowledging the existence of child sexuality was an important development.[51] Freud gave sexual drives an importance and centrality in human life, actions, and behavior; he said sexual drives exist and can be discerned in children from birth. He explains this in his theory of infantile sexuality, and says sexual energy (libido) is the most important motivating force in adult life. Freud wrote about the importance of interpersonal relationships to one's sexual and emotional development. From birth, the mother's connection to the infant affects the infant's later capacity for pleasure and attachment.[52] Freud described two currents of emotional life; an affectionate current, including our bonds with the important people in our lives; and a sensual current, including our wish to gratify sexual impulses. During adolescence, a young person tries to integrate these two emotional currents.[53]

Child sexuality

Sexuality and age

Other than the need to procreate, there are many other reasons people have sex. According to one study conducted on college students (Meston & Buss, 2007), the four main reasons for sexual activities are; physical attraction, as a means to an end, to increase emotional connection, and to alleviate insecurity.[50]

Freud and Ellis said homosexuality resulted from reversed gender roles. In the early 21st century, this view is reinforced by the media's portrayal of male homosexuals as effeminate and female homosexuals as masculine.[49] A person's conformity or non-conformity to gender stereotypes does not always predict sexual orientation. Society believes that if a man is masculine he is heterosexual, and if a man is feminine he is homosexual. There is no strong evidence that a homosexual or bisexual orientation must be associated with atypical gender roles. By the early 21st century, homosexuality was no longer considered to be a pathology. Many factors, including: genetic factors, anatomical factors, birth order, and hormones in the prenatal environment, have been linked to homosexuality.[49]

Before the High Middle Ages, homosexual acts appear to have been ignored or tolerated by the Christian church.[48] During the 12th century, hostility toward homosexuality began to spread throughout religious and secular institutions. By the end of the 19th century, it was viewed as a pathology.[48] Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud adopted more accepting stances; Ellis said homosexuality was inborn and therefore not immoral, not a disease, and that many homosexuals made significant contributions to society.[48] Freud wrote that all human beings as capable of becoming either heterosexual or homosexual; neither orientation was assumed to be innate.[49] According to Freud, a person's orientation depended on the resolution of the Oedipus complex. He said male homosexuality resulted when a young boy had an authoritarian, rejecting mother and turned to his father for love and affection, and later to men in general. He said female homosexuality developed when a girl loved her mother and identified with her father, and became fixated at that stage.[49]

Sexual behavior and intimate relationships are strongly influenced by a person's sexual orientation.[47] Sexual orientation refers to the degree of emotional and physical attraction to members of the opposite sex, same sex, or both sexes.[47] Heterosexual people are attracted to the members of the opposite sex. Homosexual people are attracted to people of the same sex. Those who are bisexual are attracted to both men and women.

Gender identity is a person's sense of self-identification as female, male, both, neither, or somewhere in between. The social construction of gender has been discussed by many scholars, including Judith Butler. More recent research has focused upon the influence of feminist theory and courtship.[45][46]

Sexuality in humans generates profound emotional and psychological responses. Some theorists identify sexuality as the central source of human personality.[43] Psychological studies of sexuality focus on psychological influences that affect sexual behavior and experiences.[19] Early psychological analyses were carried out by Sigmund Freud, who believed in a psychoanalytic approach. He also proposed the concepts of psychosexual development and the Oedipus complex, among other theories.[44]

Sigmund Freud with daughter Anna

Psychological aspects

Sexual disorders, according to the DSM-IV-TR, are disturbances in sexual desire and psycho-physiological changes that characterize the sexual response cycle and cause marked distress, and interpersonal difficulty. There are four major categories of sexual problems: desire disorders, arousal disorders, orgasmic disorders, and sexual pain disorders.[3]

Sexual dysfunction and sexual problems

[42][41][40][3] The female sexual response begins with the excitement phase, which can last from several minutes to several hours. Characteristics of this phase include increased heart and respiratory rate, and an elevation of blood pressure. Flushed skin or blotches of redness may occur on the chest and back; breasts increase slightly in size and nipples may become hardened and erect. The onset of

The male sexual response cycle starts in the excitement phase; two centers in the spine are responsible for erections. Vasoconstriction in the penis begins, the heart rate increases, the scrotum thickens, the spermatic cord shortens, and the testicles become engorged with blood. In the plateau phase, the penis increases in diameter, the testicles become more engorged, and the Cowper's glands secrete pre-seminal fluid. The orgasm phase, during which rhythmic contractions occur every 0.8 seconds, consists of two phases; the emission phase, in which contractions of the vas deferens, prostate, and seminal vesicles encourage ejaculation, which is the second phase of orgasm. Ejaculation is called the expulsion phase; it cannot be reached without an orgasm. In the resolution phase, the male is now in an unaroused state consisting of a refactory (rest) period before the cycle can begin. This rest period may increase with age.[3]

[3] The sexual response cycle is a model that describes the physiological responses that occur during sexual activity. This model was created by

Sexual response cycle

The prostate gland and the seminal vesicles produce seminal fluid that is mixed with sperm to create semen.[3] The prostate gland lies under the bladder and in front of the rectum. It consists of two main zones: the inner zone that produces secretions to keep the lining of the male urethra moist and the outer zone that produces seminal fluids to facilitate the passage of semen.[37] The seminal vesicles secrete fructose for sperm activation and mobilization, prostaglandins to cause uterine contractions that aid movement through the uterus, and bases that help neutralize the acidity of the vagina. The Cowper's glands, or bulbourethral glands, are two pea sized structures beneath the prostate.

[37][3] Sperm are transported through a four-part duct system. The first part of this system is the

The testicles are the male gonads where sperm and male hormones are produced. Millions of sperm are produced daily in several hundred seminiferous tubules. Cells called the Leydig cells lie between the tubules; these produce hormones called androgens; these consist of testosterone and inhibin. The testicles are held by the spermatic cord, which is a tubelike structure containing blood vessels, nerves, the vas deferens, and a muscle that helps to raise and lower the testicles in response to temperature changes and sexual arousal, in which the testicles are drawn closer to the body.[3]

Male internal reproductive structures are the testicles, the duct system, the prostate and seminal vesicles, and the Cowper's gland.[3]

The male reproductive system
Internal male anatomy

The raised rim at the border of the shaft and glans is called the corona. The urethra runs through the shaft, providing an exit for sperm and urine. The root consists of the expanded ends of the cavernous bodies, which fan out to form the crura and attach to the pubic bone and the expanded end of the spongy body (bulb). The root is surrounded by two muscles; the bulbocavernosus muscle and the ischiocavernosus muscle, which aid urination and ejaculation. The penis has a foreskin that usually covers the glans; in many cultures, this is removed at birth in a procedure called circumcision.[3] In the scrotum, the testicles are held away from the body, one possible reason for this is so sperm can be produced in an environment slightly lower than normal body temperature.[38][39]

The shaft of the penis consists of three cylindrical bodies of spongy tissue filled with blood vessels along its length. Two of these bodies lie side-by-side in the upper portion of the penis called corpora cavernosa. The third, called the corpus spongiosum, is a tube that lies centrally beneath the others and expands at the end to form the tip of the penis (glans).[37]

The male genitalia are the penis and the scrotum. The penis provides a passageway for sperm and urine. An average-sized flaccid penis is about 3 34 inches (9.5 cm) in length and 1 15 inches (3.0 cm) in diameter. When erect, the average penis is between 4 12 inches (11 cm) to 6 inches (15 cm) in length and 1 12 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter. The penis's internal structures consist of the shaft, glans, and the root.[3]

External, uncircumcised male genitals
External male anatomy

Males also have both internal and external genitalia that are responsible for procreation and sexual intercourse. Production of spermatozoa (sperm) is also cyclic, but unlike the female ovulation cycle, the sperm production cycle is constantly producing millions of sperm daily.[3]

Male anatomy and reproductive system

Ovulation is based on a monthly cycle; the 14th day is the most fertile. On days one to four, menstruation and production of estrogen and progesterone decreases, and the endometrium starts thinning. The endometrium is sloughed off for the next three to six days. Once menstruation ends, the cycle begins again with an FSH surge from the pituitary gland. Days five to thirteen are known as the pre-ovulatory stage. During this stage, the pituitary gland secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). A negative feedback loop is enacted when estrogen is secreted to inhibit the release of FSH. Estrogen thickens the endometrium of the uterus. A surge of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) triggers ovulation. On day 14, the LH surge causes a Graafian follicle to surface the ovary. The follicle ruptures and the ripe ovum is expelled into the abdominal cavity. The fallopian tubes pick up the ovum with the fimbria. The cervical mucus changes to aid the movement of sperm. On days 15 to 28—the post-ovulatory stage, the Graafian follicle—now called the corpus luteum—secretes estrogen. Production of progesterone increases, inhibiting LH release. The endometrium thickens to prepare for implantation, and the ovum travels down the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. If the ovum is not fertilized and does not implant, menstruation begins.[3]

The ovaries are the female gonads; they develop from the same embryonic tissue as the testicles. The ovaries are suspended by ligaments and are the source where ova are stored and developed before ovulation. The ovaries also produce female hormones progesterone and estrogen. Within the ovaries, each ovum is surrounded by other cells and contained within a capsule called a primary follicle. At puberty, one or more of these follicles are stimulated to mature on a monthly basis. Once matured, these are called Graafian follicles.[3] The female reproductive system does not produce the ova; about 60,000 ova are present at birth, only 400 of which will mature during the woman's lifetime.[25]

During ovulation, the ovum travels down the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. These extend about four inches (10 cm) from both sides of the uterus. Finger-like projections at the ends of the tubes brush the ovaries and receive the ovum once it is released. The ovum then travels for three to four days to the uterus.[3] After sexual intercourse, sperm swim up this funnel from the uterus. The lining of the tube and its secretions sustain the egg and the sperm, encouraging fertilization and nourishing the ovum until it reaches the uterus. If the ovum divides after fertilization, identical twins are produced. If separate eggs are fertilized by different sperm, the mother gives birth to non-identical or fraternal twins.[25]

The uterus or womb is a hollow, muscular organ where a fertilized egg (ovum) will implant itself and grow into a fetus.[3] The uterus lies in the pelvic cavity between the bladder and the bowel, and above the vagina. It is usually positioned in a 90-degree angle tilting forward, although in about 20% of women it tilts backwards.[25] The uterus has three layers; the innermost layer is the endometrium, where the egg is implanted. During ovulation, this thickens for implantation. If implantation does not occur, it is sloughed off during menstruation. The cervix is the narrow end of the uterus. The broad part of the uterus is the fundus.[3]

[36][35][34] The female internal reproductive organs are the

The female reproductive system
Internal female anatomy

[3] Heredity and the quantity of fatty tissue determine the size of the breasts.[25] Other connective tissue, which forms dense strands called suspensory ligaments, extends inward from the skin of the breast to the pectoral tissue to support the weight of the breast.[25] and a lactiferous duct leading to the nipple. The lobes are separated by dense connective tissues that support the glands and attach them to the tissues on the underlying pectoral muscles.alveolar glands, irregularly shaped lobes that include mammary glands Their purpose is to provide milk to a developing infant. Breasts develop during puberty in response to an increase in estrogen. Each adult breast consists of 15 to 20 milk-producing [25] Breasts are modified sweat glands made up of fibrous tissues and fat that provide support and contain nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels.[25] The breasts are the subcutaneous tissues on the front thorax of the female body.[3] The

The vaginal opening and the urethral opening are only visible when the labia minora are parted. These opening have many nerve endings that make them sensitive to touch. They are surrounded by a ring of sphincter muscles called the bulbocavernosus muscle. Underneath this muscle and on opposite sides of the vaginal opening are the vestibular bulbs, which help the vagina grip the penis by swelling with blood during arousal. Within the vaginal opening is the hymen, a thin membrane that partially covers the opening in many virgins. Rupture of the hymen has been historically considered the loss of one's virginity, though by modern standards, loss of virginity is considered to be the first sexual intercourse. The hymen can be ruptured by activities other than sexual intercourse. The urethral opening connects to the bladder with the urethra; it expels urine from the bladder. This is located below the clitoris and above the vaginal opening.[3]

[3] collect in the clitoris.smegma Thick secretions called [33][32][31][30] The clitoris is developed from the same embryonic tissue as the penis; it or its

The labia minora and labia majora are collectively known as the lips. The labia majora are two elongated folds of skin extending from the mons to the perineum. Its outer surface becomes covered with hair after puberty. In between the labia majora are the labia minora, two hairless folds of skin that meet above the clitoris to form the clitoral hood, which is highly sensitive to touch. The labia minora become engorged with blood during sexual stimulation, causing them to swell and turn red.[3] The labia minora are composed of connective tissues that are richly supplied with blood vessels which cause the pinkish appearance. Near the anus, the labia minora merge with the labia majora.[25] In a sexually unstimulated state, the labia minora protects the vaginal and urethral opening by covering them.[26] At the base of the labia minora are the Bartholin's glands, which add a few drops of an alkaline fluid to the vagina via ducts; this fluid helps to counteract the acidity of the outer vagina since sperm cannot live in an acidic environment.[3]

The mons veneris, also known as the Mound of Venus, is a soft layer of fatty tissue overlaying the pubic bone.[24] Following puberty, this area grows in size. It has many nerve endings and is sensitive to stimulation.[3]

External female genitals
External female anatomy

Female anatomy and reproductive system

[3] Luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers ovulation, which is the release of a mature egg.[23] Both prolactic and oxytocin stimulate milk production in women. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS) is responsible for ovulation in women by triggering egg maturity; in men it stimulates sperm production.[22] The hormone is also released in women when they give birth or are breastfeeding.[21][20] The

Brain

Males and females are anatomically similar; this extends to some degree to the development of the reproductive system. As adults, they have different reproductive mechanisms that enable them to perform sexual acts and to reproduce. Men and women react to sexual stimuli in a similar fashion with minor differences. Women have a monthly reproductive cycle, whereas the male sperm production cycle is more continuous.[3]

Physical anatomy and reproduction

[19] heredity, hormonal issues, gender issues, and sexual dysfunction.[18] Like other

Biological and physiological aspects

Human sexual behavior is different from that of most other animal species; it seems to be affected by several factors. For example, while most non-human species are driven to partake in sexual behavior when reproduction is possible, humans are not sexually active only to reproduce.[15] The environment, culture, and social setting play major roles in the perception, attitudes, and behaviors of sexuality. Sexual behavior is also affected by the inability to detect sexual stimuli, incorrect labeling, or misattribution. This may in turn impede an individual's sexual performance.[15]

Locke (1632–1704) rejected the assumption that there are innate differences among people and said people are strongly influenced by their social environments, especially by education.[11] He believed it is accurate to view a child's mind as a tabula rasa or blank slate; whatever goes into the mind originates in the surrounding environment.[11] As the person develops, they discover their identities. Locke proposed following a child from its birth and observing the changes that time makes; he said one will find that as the mind, through sensory information, becomes furnished with ideas, it becomes more awake and aware. He said that after some time, the child's mind begins to know the most familiar objects. As the child's brain develops, he or she begins to know the people and social surroundings of daily life, and can then distinguish the known from the unknown. This view supports the nurture side of the debate.[14]

John Locke

[11] He also said pleasure lowers tension while displeasure raises it, influencing the sexual drive in humans. His developmentalist perspective was governed by inner forces, especially biological drives and maturation, and his view that humans are biologically inclined to seek sexual gratification demonstrates the nature side of the debate.[13]

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