3 Differences Between Male and Female Sexual Desire

Men and women seem to experience differences in their sexual desire. But why is this? Read on to find out more.
3 Differences Between Male and Female Sexual Desire

Last update: 14 October, 2020

When we get into the subject of sexual desire, a number of stereotypical categories arise. But what characterizes sexual desire? What are the differences between male and female sexual desire?

Sexual desire is a human impulse to seek contact and to interact sexually. There are several factors involved: biological, psychological, social, cultural, and relational, among others. It can be provoked by the following types of stimulation:

  • External stimulation. For example, when a person’s partner has dressed in a particularly attractive way.
  • Internal stimulation. Factors associated with a person’s thoughts or biological factors.

When we talk about male and female sexual desire, we’re referring to gender differences. And gender, according to the Pan-Hispanic dictionary, can be defined in the following way: “the socially constructed attributes, roles, activities, responsibilities, and needs, predominantly related to belonging to the female or male sex, in certain societies and communities, and at a given time”.

Gender differences become visible in our everyday lives, and so does the formation of sexual desire. In fact, masculine sexual desire often contains fewer “layers” than feminine desire.

We’re going to show you what these differences are, on a general level. However, in many cases, certain individual differences can’t be bound by these generalizations.

Differences in male and female sexual desire according to age

A couple engaged in foreplay.

If we talk about sexual desire in men, we can say that it appears in puberty, sometimes associated with the famous “wet dreams”. It seems to remain high until around the age of 50. At that point, it starts to decline, accompanied in some cases by a drop in libido.

Female sexual desire often awakens later than in men. Also, depending on experience, the period of sexual maturity is around 35 years of age and may decrease or increase with the arrival of menopause.

In many cases, a person’s sexual desire is strongly associated with a person’s general health. In other words, we can improve our sexual desire by improving our general health, including, of course, our mental health.


This is different in each gender. Research suggests that, in general, women tend to get more excited about the context, while men are more excited about the content.

For example, women would be more aware of the emotional connection, while men wouldn’t feel it necessary for this connection to exist. Moreover, for many men, sexual desire and satisfaction would be a way of creating this connection and not a consequence of it.

However, men tend to have more preferences. One fact that may explain this is that they may think more about sex than women. Because of this, in some ways, men may have clearer ideas about what they want and don’t want.

An aroused couple.

Psychological factors

Psychological factors can be influenced by education, culture, society, and even religion; all these influence people’s thoughts. Classically, experts have put forward that men are able to dissociate sex from emotions. They would be able to experience sexual desire in more heterogeneous emotional states.

On the other hand, a lot of research supports the fact that men are more excited by the content and women by the context. However, Rupp and Wallen, in their article “Sex Differences in Response to a Visual Sexual Stimuli: A Review“, suggest that there may be confusion regarding the conclusions of several of these studies.

They feel that researchers haven’t addressed the interaction between measured desire, the variety of stimuli presented, and measurement techniques.

The research continues

Thus, this is a topic that’s continually developing. We don’t have a definitive answer. For now, it seems that sexual motivation, perceived expectations of gender roles, and sexual attitudes would explain why we have this differentiation in male and female sexual desire.

However, we can’t fail to mention the exceptional cases. For example, women with high sexual desire. Research on sexual desire in women often emphasizes relationship and context. Nevertheless, this can vary greatly from woman to woman.

Women with high sexual desire have a greater number of sexual impulses, participate in more sexual communication, and have more frequent and elaborated thoughts and fantasies. In addition to this, they consider themselves sexually adventurous, and with a high libido.

It may be that this difference exists between women due to social and cultural aspects that have restricted the expression of a woman’s sexuality. In fact, women with high sexual desire often feel that society views them negatively, and they’re worried about what others may think about the characteristics of their desire.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Rupp, H.A. & Wallen, K. (2008). Sex differences in response to visual sexual stimuli: A review. Archives of sexual behavior, 31 (2), 206-218.

  • Sierra, J.C., Zubeidat, I., Dios, H.C,, & Reina, S. (2003). Estudio psicométrico preliminar del Test del Deseo Sexual Inhibido en una muestra española no clínica. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 3(3), 489-504.

  • Hunter  Murray, S. (2020). Cómo manejan las relaciones las mujeres con alto deseo sexual. Psychology Today.

  • Weiss, R. (2020). ¿Qué excita a los hombres? Entendiendo el deseo sexual masculino. Psychology Today.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.