An article about a new national sex survey, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, reveals who's doing what, with whom, and how. It clarifies the prevalence of gay sex, teenage intercourse, and oral gratification. But the big story is the increase in anal sex reported by women and its possible connection to female orgasms.

According to the article, the "big story" is in the stats: "In 1992, 16 percent of women aged 18-24 said they'd tried anal sex. Now 20 percent of women aged 18-19 say they've done it, and by ages 20-24, the number is 40 percent. In 1992, the highest percentage of women in any age group who admitted to anal sex was 33. In 2002, it was 35. Now it's 46."

And check out the study's orgasm data: "Among women who had vaginal sex in their last encounter, the percentage who said they reached orgasm was 65. Among those who received oral sex, it was 81. But among those who had anal sex, it was 94!"

Now, let me clarify what the study is and isn't saying, and then we can consider further what the data suggests.

The women surveyed aren't having orgasms from the anal sex, per se, but rather, they are having orgasms more frequently when anal sex is included in the sexual play.

So, why would that be?

Well, if you'll forgive me for being clinical for a moment, folks, Freud identified the anus as an "erotic zone" a hundred years ago, and he concluded that the source of more than a few psychological disturbances stemmed from early childhood shame around those erotic feelings. Some of Freud's successors explored the connection between suppressed "anal stage" (between ages 1/12 to 2 1/2) feelings and the masochistic character structure.

Yep, human beings are built for pleasure... even in places you might not expect! And denying, suppressing or judging our desires for pleasure always does harm.

Okay, I'll give the last word to Slate Magazine, where I originally ran into this study:

"If anal sex is a trailing indicator of women's sexual satisfaction, then by all means, let's toast the new findings. Here's to you, ladies. Bottoms up!"

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