flickr, emery co photoWe know several reasons to have sex: It feels good, we're in love, to make babies. (We suspect that's why the Duggars do it.) But a new book, "Why Women Have Sex," claims the real reasons women get down include to avoid an argument or get gifts, not because of attraction or for pleasure.

The authors gleaned this from interviews with 1,000 women of all ages. And while we give them kudos for focusing on something other than the physical side of sex, we want to know more. We're curious about whether the reasons and type of sex we have change as we age or enter more committed relationships. So we asked some real women.

Your Loosey-Goosey Twenties
Heather Griffiths, 25, a social worker who lives in Boston, lost her virginity in a one-night stand at 19. But as she's maturing, she's starting to prefer sex with a committed partner over casual encounters.

She admits to having had sex out of boredom or because she couldn't think of a reason not to in the past, but no more.

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"I haven't had a committed partner in a while and have really decided against having sex until I am back to that point, because it just isn't as good," she said. "I don't think it is always about 'hitting the spots' or having one giant Earth-shattering orgasm. When sex becomes about the end result and not about the deep connection to your partner, as it is when we don't really know the other person, it can't be about an intimacy that isn't there."

Your Sure-Footed Thirties
Alisha*, 36, from Texas, knows all about the quest to have "good" sex. Now a married mother, she says the deed has gotten better now that she knows what she likes.

"I realized a while back I'd been having what I call 'porno sex' or 'movie sex,' in which you and your partner incorporate movements that you've seen in media. One day it occurred to me that those movements were for the benefit of the viewer -- not the woman. There was no 'viewer' in my sex life so I tried less up-and-down, less faster, harder. The back-and-forth, much slower movement quickly became more fulfilling and I became more orgasmic."

Alisha says she and her husband have traded sex for chores and swapped sexual favors, like a foot massage for a hand job. But overall she aims for intimacy and connection between the sheets, and when she and her husband hit a dry spot, they discuss it.

"You have to decide that physical and emotional intimacy is worth the effort," she said.

Regardless of Age, Intimacy Is a Missing Link

Debby Herbenick, PhD, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of "Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction," has some insight on the topic:

"People's actions, sexual or otherwise, are varied and complex," she said. "There are hundreds, probably even thousands, of reasons that people have sex at different times. And yes, it is common that people have sex to get something. Sometimes people have sex to gain affection; other times, to earn money or to get a job or to feel some degree of self-esteem."

But one factor that seems to be missing from the discussion is intimacy. A recent study of 3,000 women aged 18 to 50 found many prefer to be under the influence before getting in bed to build confidence about their bodies. Someone worried about how their belly pooch is sagging can't really enjoy sex or connect to their partner. "When we focus too much on the physicality of sex, we miss out on one of the most important aspects of sex: feelings of intimacy, closeness and connection," Dr. Herbenick says.

So, we need to talk more about what it means to "feel good" during sex. For instance, does it feel good to be touched, wanted or held? Probing those questions might get us closer to our individual reasons for having it and, better yet, make it more enjoyable.

Tell us: How have your reasons for sex and the type of sex you have changed as you've matured?


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