Are you the type of guy who pictures himself playing catch with his kid in the backyard? Or maybe you see yourself singing lullabies to your niño as you cradle them in your arms. Either way, you imagine a future that includes fatherhood, and the supposed euphoria that comes along with raising a tiny human into a larger human that hopefully doesn’t suck too bad.
There’s just one problem with these visions: They may make it more difficult to do the one normally-simple thing you have to do to become a father, i.e., stay erect long enough to ejaculate inside your fellow would-be parent.
According to a new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the number one factor in predicting low sexual desire in men turned out, bizarrely, to be the desire to have a baby. Which is a bit like discovering the number one reason for not being hungry is that you’re starving to death.
“There can be many reasons that contribute to this decrease in sexual desire,” explains study author Filippo M. Nimbi, of Sapienza University of Rome and the Institute of Clinical Sexology. “When a couple decides to have a child, sex becomes more procedural. It becomes like work, more than freedom, especially when a couple does not succeed immediately and has to start to think about infertility.”
Furthermore, Nimbi believes that when a man thinks about becoming a father, he can also fear losing his freedom and individuality as a man. “We should always consider that sex is a pillar of male sexual identity in Western culture, rather than paternity,” says Nimbi.
The study, says Nimbi, hoped to better understand how sexual desire works, and how it’s influenced by some relevant biopsychosocial factors. “We evaluated factors like quality of life, sexual function and emotions to investigate sexual desire in the men,” says Nimbi.
To do so, Nimbi and his team asked 300 Italian men — via a questionnaire — to rate their usual sexual desire level over the previous four weeks. “We have to consider sexual desire as a continuum between no desire at all and hypersexuality, but there are also other important variables in play, such as sexual distress and sexual satisfaction,” says Nimbi.
Some predictors of low sexual appetite were unsurprising. “Fear and a lack of erotic thoughts were linked to a lack of desire,” Nimbi explains. Wanting to have a baby, however, came as more of a shock to the team. “Evolutionarily speaking, it’s a bit counterintuitive,” Nimbi admits.
Still, Nimbi is quick to note that the study was limited by its sample size. “Wanting to have a baby held some men back in the bedroom, but the results can’t be generalized,” says Nimbi. “What’s clear is that male sexuality is considerably more complex than previously thought: A hard and rigid erection isn’t enough to explain men functioning.”