Do Women Want Sex with the Same Frequency as Do Men?

A woman flirts with a man in a cafeMen want sex and women want love, right? That’s what dozens of studies have set out to prove, often resulting in salacious headlines and lots of publicity. In one famous study, an attractive stranger approached college students for no-strings-attached sex, and found that men were far more likely to consent to the encounter than women.

With studies finding that as many as 45% of women have faced some form of sexual violence, it’s easy to understand why women might turn down an attractive stranger. Likewise, the idea that women are the gatekeepers of sex or that they must decline sex to retain their honor persists in spite of decades of progress. According to a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, though, sex drive differences between men and women decrease when women are in a situation they perceive to be safe.

Feelings of Safety and Social Pressure Play a Role

The study’s authors hypothesized that social pressures, concerns about safety, and the strangeness of a sudden request for sex might conspire to make women more likely to decline. To test their theory, they recruited six males and eight females they deemed “average-looking.” The recruits approached 162 men and 119 women at either a nightclub or on campus. During the interaction, they asked for either casual sex or a date. As in other studies, a significant gender difference persisted, with significantly more men than women accepting the invitation for sex.

In a second trial, researchers concocted an elaborate ruse to get 60 female and male participants into their lab. They showed each participant 10 photos of a person of the other sex, then led the participants to believe that the person in the photo wanted to either date or have sex with them. The participants were allowed to choose the people they’d like to meet, without the pressure of the person standing right there. In this “safer” environment, gender differences disappeared, with equal numbers of men and women agreeing to a date or to sex.

The study’s authors suggest that this points to cultural gender differences rather than biological ones. Women may feel judged or less safe when a stranger approaches them for sex, but when these barriers are removed, women and men appear to be equally receptive to and interested in sex.


  1. Baranowski, A. M., & Hecht, H. (2013). Gender Differences and Similarities in receptivity to sexual invitations: Effects of location and risk perception. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-015-0520-6
  2. Stafford, T. (2015, April 29). When society isn’t judging, women’s sex drive rivals men’s. Retrieved from

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  • Megan

    May 11th, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    Yes, I think that we want sex just as much as men do but I think that the roles that society has constricted us to has made us feel very ill at ease when it comes to admitting that or even initiating sex.

  • Hannah

    May 11th, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    Is it old fashioned to believe that some women are hard wired differently?
    I mean, I know that sex can be important in a relationship but really I guess I haven’t found someone who makes me feel like this is something that I want to do all the time!

  • camille

    May 12th, 2015 at 4:45 PM

    I do think that we want it just as much but there are always a lot more things in women’s lives that I think tend to pull us away from wanting it so much, or at least having to meet that need. I don’t think that this is necessarily healthy but I do think that we are a lot more apt to ignore those very basic and human desires and put the needs of the rest of our family, work etc ahead of those sexual desires that we all have.

  • Brandon

    May 13th, 2015 at 2:18 PM

    No I don’t think that women think about sex the same way that men do and I don’t think that it is always on their mind the way that it is for men. I think that this is the way that it was intended to be because of they were just like men in that respect then how could any of us ever get anything productive accomplished?

  • Mellisa

    May 15th, 2015 at 11:10 PM

    Well… I can only speak for myself. I do believe that some women do think about sex as much as men and others not so much. I can say in my experience when I think about sex , which is often, its related to feelings of love and tenderness, kissing,caressing,and usually a storyline. I don’t think alot of men necessarily “daydream” in the same way women do… Men are alot more “to the point” about thoughts of sex.

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