Christopher Ryan Ph.D.

Sex at Dawn

FAQ About Sex at Dawn (Part III)

Why do men risk so much for some strange?

Posted Jun 30, 2010

In celebration of the publication of Sex at Dawn this week, I'm running a series of FAQ that often come up when we're talking about the book, whether at cocktail parties or conferences. You can see the whole list at our website here. Also at our site, you'll see a form for contacting us. If you're interested in the issues we cover in the book, and have a nagging question you'd like to see us take a shot at answering, let us know. We'll be choosing the five most interesting questions to answer in future blog posts here. If we choose your question, we'll send you a free copy of Sex at Dawn. Looking forward to your questions and comments.

1. Why do middle-aged men risk so much for flings?

With the caveat that every situation is different, one factor we think deserves more attention is the role of testosterone (T) in middle-aged men’s eroticism. In their twenties, men’s T levels begin a long decline, often experienced as diminished passion and appetite for life. Suppressed T levels are associated with depression, heart attacks, dementia, and overall mortality rates from 88 to 250 percent higher. One of the few things that can reliably and immediately revive a man’s sagging testosterone is exposure to a new woman. One researcher found that even a brief chat with an attractive woman raised men’s testosterone levels by fourteen percent within minutes. In Sex at Dawn, we suggest that many men may be confusing the hormonal changes triggered by an affair with actual “love,” thus leading them to make ill-advised decisions catastrophic to their families, their marriages, and eventually themselves.

2. Does this explain why many men are afraid of commitment?

A lot of men certainly know from experience that variety is an important element in their sexual response and that a lifetime of monogamy—even with the woman of their dreams—is an intimidating prospect. Whether this represents “fear” or self-knowledge is an open question. This short essay sums it up pretty well.

3. What does the human body tell us about our sexual evolution?

The human body is full of information about our ancestors’ sex lives. In Sex at Dawn, we explain how women’s breasts, orgasms and reproductive anatomy echo the same story told by men’s testicles, penises, and seminal chemistry. It’s an X-rated tale of the orgiastic origins of our species.

For more information, visit

Click here for a recent review of the book, or here for an interview at

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