TIME

6 Weird Scientific Facts About Love

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Sure, you know the basics about the birds and the bees, but how much do you really know about what goes on in your body—and your mind—while you’re falling head over heels or doing the deed? Here are some fascinating facts about love and sex that may surprise you.

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Spouses may have similar DNA

Scientists already knew that people tend to choose romantic partners with similar characteristics, such as age, race, religion, income, and upbringings. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that people also tend to marry others with similar DNA. When researchers studied the genetic material of 825 white American couples, they found fewer differences in the DNA between married people than between two randomly selected individuals within the same race. In fact, they calculated that the tendency to pair up with a genetically similar spouse is about one-third as strong as the tendency to do so with someone with a similar education.

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Watching rom-coms may help strengthen marriage

Watching movies may be one key to marital bliss, says Matthew Johnson, PhD, director of the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory at Binghamton University. In his study, couples attended counseling or watched relationship-themed movies and completed discussion guides together. Both strategies cut the groups’ divorce rate in half after three years—but the movie-watching activity took 50% less time and took place almost entirely at home. “The key is to talk with your partner about your relationship in the context of a movie,” says Johnson.

Women can make their voice “sexier,” but men can’t

In a 2014 study, Albright University researchers found that women were able to deliberately manipulate their voices—while counting from one to 10—to sound more attractive. But, sorry guys: When men tried to be sexier, they were actually rated as sounding worse! When a woman intentionally drops her voice to make it sound low and breathy, she’s often perceived as more attractive—but not exactly for the reasons you might think. Men tend to prefer women with higher, more feminine voices, says co-author Susan Hughes, PhD, associate professor of psychology. But when a woman lowers her voice to “sound sexy,” she’s signaling her interest in a potential mate—a clue that men are able to pick up on.

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You’re less likely to get grossed out when aroused

Sex can be a messy activity with lots of fluids and smells, but in the heat of the moment, none of that (usually) seems to matter. According to a study from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, that’s because sexual arousal overrides the body’s natural “disgust response.” When researchers asked women to watch either an erotic film, a sports video, or a “neutral” video of a train, and then perform a series of unpleasant acts (like drinking out of a cup with a bug in it), they found that those who’d watched the sexual acts rated the tasks as less disgusting—and were also able to complete more of them. Previous research has suggested that sexual arousal has a similar impact on men, as well.

Love is good for your bones

Marriage appears to strengthen men’s skeletons, according to a University of California Los Angeles study, especially if they wait until after age 25 to tie the knot. Researchers aren’t sure why, but they point out that it’s not the first time marriage has been linked to health. Other studies, for example, have suggested that married people live longer, are more likely to survive cancer, and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Old people do it, too

Sexual interest and sexual function do both decline with age—especially as adults begin to take more medications—but that doesn’t mean that senior citizens aren’t still getting it on. “Many people do continue to have sex into their old age, often until death,” Garcia says. And they’re not always careful: “Besides teenagers and young adults, the elderly is the biggest population for sexually-transmitted disease spikes,” he adds. “They’re not worried about getting pregnant, so they’re not using condoms.”

READ MORE: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love on Health.com

TIME Sex/Relationships

Husbands, If You Want a Good Night’s Sleep Make Sure Your Wife Is Happy

A new study finds that sleep-wake schedules are more synchronized when a wife is content with her marriage, indicating that sleep patterns are a shared behavior between partners.

A happier wife may bring better sleep for husbands.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, married couples are more likely to sleep in sync when a wife is more satisfied with her marriage.

The study indicates that partners who sleep in the same bed are awake, or asleep, at the same time for 75 percent of the time – but it also suggests that the percentage is higher if the wife has a higher level of marital satisfaction.

“Most of what is known about sleep comes from studying it at the individual level; however, for most adults, sleep is a shared behavior between bed partners,” said Heather Gunn, lead author of the study.

“This suggests that our sleep patterns are regulated not only by when we sleep, but also by with whom we sleep.”

[American Academy of Sleep Medicine]

TIME

The Most Erogenous Parts of the Female Body, Ranked By Science

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Scientists have determined which female body parts are most sensitive

Here’s a study that will make you blush.

Canadian scientists tested the sensitivities of several sexual areas on the female body, including the parts in the perineum area–the area between the anus and vulva–as well as the side boob and nipple. They compared these to neutral areas on the body, like the neck, forearm, abdomen.

Exactly how did they go about this? The researchers used light touch, pressure, and yes, vibration to assess how sensitive these body parts were. They had 3o healthy women between the ages of 18 and 35 get undressed and lie on a table covered in a bed sheet. They then used scientific instruments to apply the various forms of touch to the women’s clitoris, labia minora, vaginal margin, anal margin, lateral breast (side boob), areola (the small ring of skin surrounding the nipple), nipple, neck and forearm.

The researchers applied stimulation for 1.5 seconds, then waited for five seconds before asking the women if they felt it.

Here’s what they found.

For light touch, the neck, forearm, and vaginal margin are the most sensitive areas, and the areola is the least sensitive. When it comes to pressure, the clitoris and nipple are the most sensitive, and the side boob and abdomen are the least. Lastly, when it comes to vibration, the clitoris and nipple are most sensitive. The clitoris was the most sensitive to vibration out of all the body parts.

Overall, the researchers found that the genitals are more sensitive to pressure and vibration compared to light touch, which they found “interesting” because people enjoy sex and sex toys. (Duh).

In all seriousness, the researchers say that understanding these sensitives is useful knowledge for breast augmentation and gender reassignment surgery. But if you want this information for other reasons, by all means bookmark this page.

This study is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

 

 

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