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Human Sexuality

Sexual Orientation

What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation is understood to be driven primarily by biology: Many sex characteristics are determined in the womb. Hormones are believed to play a role as well: Exposure to certain hormones during development may influence sexual behavior. When an individual’s sexual orientation emerges it could be androphilic (finding male bodies erotic), gynephilic (finding female bodies erotic), bisexual, asexual, or something else. Most people’s orientation can be seen on a continuum, with substantial variation even among heterosexuals or homosexuals.

What’s the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity?

Biological sex refers to your chromosomal makeup at birth. Gender identity is your self-concept of being male, female, or non-binary. Sexual orientation describes who you feel attracted to, whether heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, or pansexual.

Masturbation

Is masturbation healthy?

While many people are reluctant to talk about it openly because of long-held stigmas, especially in religious or conservative communities, the practice is common, and, sexual health experts agree, masturbation is healthy, normal, and often emotionally beneficial. Masturbation is a safe way to discover what feels good and a way to relieve sexual tension, even within a committed relationship

Is masturbation a sign of trouble in a relationship?

Not necessarily. Masturbation is rarely the cause of problems in a relationship, but when a partner’s frequency of masturbation increases, or they come to prefer it to sex with their partner, it is likely a sign of a communication breakdown between a couple. Experts suggest open and honest dialog between partners about what arouses them, how often they desire to have sex (or not), and how each feels about the other masturbating.

Monogamy and Polyamory

Are people naturally monogamous or polygamous?

Human societies did not begin to embrace monogamy until the advent of monotheistic religions and the shift to primarily urban living arrangements. Before that—meaning for most of human history—men and women were primarily polygamous. Evolutionary theorists believe that men’s larger size relative to women, the fact that men tend to die younger, and men’s continued greater interest in mating with multiple partners are all leftovers of our history of polygamy.

What does it mean to be monogamous?

Monogamy does not mean the same thing to every person, and when partners in committed relationships have not discussed their definitions of the term, problems can arise. One partner may feel strongly that masturbation is a violation of their monogamous relationship because it involves sex apart from each other (or while thinking of someone else).

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