The Science of Sex

Our Sexual Health and Sex Education Guidelines is your judgment-free, science-based resource to learn about sex. Our sexual health articles are reviewed by sexual health professionals to ensure that our content is high quality and thoroughly researched.

We look to the science of sex to guide our principles, while understanding that not enough high quality, evidence-based research has been done on vast areas of human sexuality.

Affirming sexual needs without shame and judgment is key to making sex education accessible and equitable providing access. Cultural and personal variation in sexual practices should be valued.

(ACOG, Ford, Satcher)

Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, “the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected, and fulfilled”

Sexual wellbeing is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity.

2021 State of Sex Report

We surveyed 1074 people across the United States. We focused on age, race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, attitudes and perceptions about sex, and political leanings.
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We take sex seriously. That’s why we look to the science of sex to guide our principles.

“Sexuality is an important part of a person’s identity across their lifespan.”
ACOG, Satcher
“Sexual wellness benefits physical health and wellness, as well as mental health, across the lifespan.”
“Affirming sexual needs without shame and judgment is key to making sex education accessible and equitable providing access.”
@ACOG, Ford, Satcher
“Cultural and personal variation in sexual practices should be valued.”
Sex ed and sexual wellness promotion is important for people of all ages -- sex ed does not end after school.
“Sexual pleasure is a human right.”
@ACOG, Ford, Satcher


American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). (2020). Adolescent Health Care, Sexuality and Contraception. Policies.
American College of Nurse Midwives. (2017). Sex During Pregnancy. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 62(5), 645–646.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2017). Committee Opinion No 706: Sexual Health. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 130(1), e42–e47.
Charnetski, C. J., & Brennan, F. X. (2004). Sexual Frequency and Salivary Immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychological Reports, 94(3), 839–844.
Davison, S. L., Bell, R. J., LaChina, M., Holden, S. L., & Davis, S. R. (2009). Psychology: The Relationship between Self-Reported Sexual Satisfaction and General Well-Being in Women. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 6(10), 2690–2697.
Ford, J. V., Ivankovich, M. B., Douglas, J. M., Hook, E. W., Barclay, L., Elders, J., Satcher, D., & Coleman, E. (2017). The Need to Promote Sexual Health in America: A New Vision for Public Health Action. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 44(10), 579–585.
Goldfarb, E. S., & Lieberman, L. D. (2021). Three Decades of Research: The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education. Journal of Adolescent Health, 68(1), 13–27.
Guttmacher Institute. (2017, December). American Adolescents’ Sources of Sexual Health Information. Fact Sheet.
Hensel, D. J., Nance, J., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2016). The Association Between Sexual Health and Physical, Mental, and Social Health in Adolescent Women. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59(4), 416–421.
Mexico City World Congress of Sexual Health (MCWCSH). (2019). Declaration on Sexual Pleasure. World Association for Sexual Health.
Schmidt, E. K., Robek, N., Dougherty, M., Hand, B. N., Havercamp, S., Sommerich, C., Weaver, L., & Darragh, A. (2020). Recommendations to Improve Accessibility of Sexuality Education for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities: A Qualitative Study. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 1–17.
AmeSatcher, D., Hook, E. W., & Coleman, E. (2015). Sexual Health in America: Improving Patient Care and Public Health. JAMA, 314(8), 765.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2018). International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education.
World Health Organization. (2006). Defining Sexual Health: Report of a technical consultation on sexual health 28–31 January 2002, Geneva.