Men who are trying to get their partners pregnant may experience lower sexual desire as a result, according to new research. The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, looked at a variety of factors that could affect men’s levels of sexual desire, and found that the desire to have a baby lowered their libidos. The findings suggest that kids have the unique power to mess with your sex life even when they’re just a glimmer in your increasingly unaroused eye. Which is just great.
The study touches on the oft-ignored issue of male sex drive. Because, as illusive at the female orgasm may be, dudes are complicated sexual beings too. “For years, the debate in scientific literature has been focused on female sexual desire and arousal, arguing that female sexuality is very complex and full of psychological and relational issues,” coauthor Filippo M. Nimbi, a psychology professor at the Sapienza University of Rome and the Institute of Clinical Sexology, told PsyPost.
Psychologist David Barlow and colleagues began studying the relationship between anxiety and sexual arousal in men in the mid-1980s. They found that, when some less confident men were threatened with a mild shock if they could not get aroused by erotic stimuli, their anxiety made arousal nearly impossible. Barlow also observed that men who had fewer issues with arousal had one main thing in common — on the rare occasion they couldn’t perform, it didn’t bother them and they often blamed it on external variables, such as something they ate. Subsequent studies have confirmed that sexual excitement in men can be hindered by the threat of performance failure.
To get a better handle on the nuances of male arousal, Nimbi and his team had 298 men complete 13 questionnaires related to social and psychological factors that may influence sexual responses, such as the Sexual Distress Scale, Sexual Satisfaction Scale, Premature Ejaculation Severity Index, and other harshly worded surveys. Results revealed that fear (including performance failure) and wanting to have a baby curbed sexual desire the most overall — more so than energy-fatigue, depression, premature ejaculation severity, sexual distress, compatibility, subjective sexual response, and sexual conservatism. Researchers suspect that wanting a baby may subconsciously provoke fears of future responsibilities, but without further study they cannot say for sure.
Nimbi and his coauthors similarly note that the findings need to be duplicated across larger samples before they can conclude if the desire to have kids is indeed at odds with the desire to have sex. But clearly, men have been able to overcome this conflict for centuries. So, with a little extra focus and awareness, Nimbi and colleagues are confident you’ll be able to get it up eventually.
“What is clear is that male sexuality is considerably more complex than previously thought: a hard and rigid erection is not enough to explain men functioning,” Nimbi added, presumably blushing. So if you’re trying to conceive but not always not always successful between the sheets, know it’s not you or your partner’s fault. But you can blame the kid you haven’t made yet, if that helps.