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How Many Times a Day Does a Man Think About Sex?

If you’re worried that you’re weird or abnormal because you don’t think about sex every seven seconds, take heart. It turns out that most men (at least college-age guys) have sex on the brain an average of 19 times per day.

Researchers at Ohio State University gave their study participants clickers to press whenever thoughts of sex, food or sleep came to mind. One participant tallied 388 clicks, or one thought every 158 seconds.

The myth

One of the most common myths about sex is that men think about it every seven seconds. This statistic is so prevalent that it’s cited in a lot of non-scientific articles and thrown around as e-mail-forward wisdom. But it’s not true.

A recent study in the Journal of Sex Research disproves this popular belief. The researchers asked 163 female and 120 male college students to record how often they thought about sex, food, and sleep over the course of a week. They were given clickers to hit each time they had one of these thoughts. On average, the men recorded 19 sex-related thoughts per day, while women recorded between one and 140.

This isn’t the first study to examine sexual thoughts, but it was the most rigorous. During the study, participants were also asked to complete questions about their sex history and erotophilia level. Those who were more comfortable with their sexuality and had an open mindset about it reported thinking about sex more often.

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But if you’re willing to put aside the results of this particular study and look at the bigger picture, then the truth is that thinking about sex is pretty rare. The majority of people’s thoughts are spent on other things, such as work, family, friends, and (until about 5 pm) coffee. When sex does come to mind, it’s probably more of a dream than a reality.

The actual number

If you’re a man, it might seem like you think about sex all the time. After all, the popular myth states that men think about sex every seven seconds—which would be more than 8,000 times during 16 hours of wakefulness. But there’s no evidence for that claim. The truth is, most guys don’t even come close to that number.

To test the myth, researchers from Ohio State University gave a group of college students clickers to keep track of how many times they thought about food, sleep, and sex during a week. The participants pressed the clickers whenever one of these thoughts came to mind. On average, the men tallied 19 sexy thoughts per day. But there were some sexual overachievers: One man tallied 388 sex thoughts, while one woman tallied 140.

The data also revealed that the frequency of a person’s thoughts was influenced by their comfort with their own sexuality. Those who reported being most comfortable with their own sexy thoughts had the highest numbers. But it wasn’t just the sexy thoughts that were influential; other factors like stress and appetite also had an impact on the amount of time the participants spent thinking about sex.

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In short, the study didn’t support the myth that men think about sex more often than women. However, it’s important to note that these results were based on self-reporting, and it’s possible that women underreport their thoughts about sex.

The science

Researchers at Ohio State University asked 283 college-age men to count how many times sex crossed their minds. They were also asked to track other thoughts, such as food and sleep. While there was some variation among the men, most thought about sex 19 times a day. That isn’t quite as often as the once every seven seconds myth, but it is still far less than what you might expect.

The study was published in January of 2012 in the Journal of Sex Research. Those involved in the study were asked to click on a counter each time sex crossed their mind. They were also given a counter to track other thoughts, such as their feelings about food and sleep.

Men who were comfortable with sex thought about it more than those who weren’t, but the difference was not significant. In fact, the number of sexy thoughts a man has is not very different from the number of times he thinks about his job or other mundane issues.

The average man had 19 sexy thoughts per day, which isn’t too bad considering that he thought about other things, like emails and coffee, much more. The study also found that women had about 10 sexy thoughts each day. While the results do not speak to all men or all people in general, it does challenge the popular stereotype that men think about sex more often than women.

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The conclusion

The idea that men think about sex more than women is one of those myths that’s been around forever, and it’s been so pervasive that we don’t even realize that it’s a myth until someone dispels it. A new study published in the journal Sexual Research aims to bust this myth once and for all.

The researchers enlisted 163 female and 120 male college students to participate in their experiment. Each of them was given a clicker that they were supposed to hit every time they had a thought about food, sleep, or sex.

On average, the male students tallied 19 thoughts about sex a day. However, there was a lot of variability in this number. Some of the guys recorded as many as 388 sexy thoughts in a day, while others only tallied 10. The researchers also found that men think about sex more than they do about food and sleep.

The reason why is likely because sex tends to stimulate the arousal system in men more than other things do. That’s why they think about it more than other things, even when those other things aren’t really arousing them. This means that a guy may think about sex more than he needs to, but it’s also possible that it’s because thinking about sex is just something that’s wired into his brain.