The Top Sexual Health Stories of 2013

By Laura Berman, PhD

Published Dec 13, 2013


2013 was a good year for sexual health research. Thanks to breaking news stories and plenty of studies that uncovered crucial medical information, we learned a great deal about human sexuality.

Here are the top sexual health stories of 2013:

1. We Finally Started Taking Sex Addiction Seriously 

Known as “hypersexual disorder, sex addiction is now entered into the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a manual that is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM includes all of the latest information and diagnostic criteria for mental disorders, and the latest edition (DSM-V) was just released in May 2013.

The new DSM-V criteria for hypersexual disorder state that a person must suffer from an obsessive preoccupation with sex and sexual fantasies for at least six months or more. Their behavior must cause them to act in ways that significantly harms their lives and their well-being, and they must have repeatedly tried to stop their actions without any success. In reviewing the criteria, it’s easy to see that hypersexual disorder isn’t a laughable condition nor is a sex addict someone who just “loves sex.”

If you are one of the 12 million Americans who suffer from sex addiction, you are not alone. Even if you have tried and failed to control your sexual behavior in the past, there is still hope. Find a therapist in your area who specializes in sex addiction or visit the Sexual Recovery Institute.

2. We Found Out that Sex Quality is More Important than Sex Quantity 

A new study led by the University of Toronto has found that the key to sexual fulfillment lies not in sexual frequency, but in what researchers call “sexual communal strength.” Sexual communal strength occurs when couples prioritize one another’s sexual needs, even when it might at times conflict with their own energy level or desire. The researchers found that when people are motivated to meet their partner’s sexual needs, their own libido responds positively as a result. And, those partners are likely to have their sexual needs met in the end as well.

Think of it as teamwork in the bedroom. Instead of working to get your own needs met and thinking exclusively of your own desires and feelings, you consider your partner’s side of things as well as what is good for the “team” as a whole (i.e. your relationship). The benefits of doing so are two-fold. Not only does it ensure that your partner is satisfied and connected to you, but it also makes you feel desirable and attractive. It keeps in touch with your sexual side and it helps to maintain everything from healthy circulation to sexual response to fantasies.

Most importantly, it helps you to remember the importance of sex in a long-term relationship. A great sex life isn’t just about meeting a certain number of orgasms per week. It’s about connecting with your partner in a physical and emotional way, as well as about fulfilling each other’s desires and prioritizing each other’s needs.

3. We Secured Civil Rights Victories in the Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

In 2013, the Supreme Court issued two new rulings on same-sex marriage this morning. Not only did they strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (which defined marriage as between a man and a woman), but they also allowed a San Francisco court ruling against Proposition 8 to stand. Prop. 8 banned same-sex marriage in the state of California, but a lower court in San Francisco overturned this ruling, and today the Supreme Court decreed that it would not interfere in this decision.

It’s a huge step forward for same-sex couples and same-sex marriage supporters. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s rulings, thousands of families will now have access to federal benefits and rights that were previously denied to them. Same-sex couples who are legally united can finally be afforded some of the security and the financial benefits which come from being married in this country. (Of course, that’s assuming they live in a state which allows same-sex marriage—only 16 states have legal gay marriage, and 33 states ban it outright).

Not only does marriage come with benefits under the law, it also improves mental health and emotional well-being. Numerous research studies have shown the positive impact that marriage can have on a person’s physical and mental health, and new data has shown that this is true for same-sex couples as well.

It’s easy to see that the right to marry is about so much more than just a “piece of paper.” It’s about the right to be treated as human beings of equal standing and equal value in our society, and the right to love and marry your partner without fear that your marriage will be arbitrarily overturned by politicians who have never even met you. It’s not just a fight for gay rights, it’s a fight for civil rights, and it’s one in which we should all take part.

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