Sperm competition. It's a thing. And according to a study, it's also why women with more male friends have more sex.
Research published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology by Oakland University in Michigan indicates that men whose female partners have several male friends and coworkers, aka perceived "sexual rivals," will do their best to eliminate their "competition" — by having more sex.
Sperm competition, which in clinical terms quite literally describes the competition between sperm from different males to fertilize an egg, is serious business. It's widespread among mammals and has evolved as a strategy to ensure the survival of one's reproductive traits. While it has been studied largely in nonhuman males, this study is different in its application to humans.
The study collected data from 393 men in committed heterosexual relationships. Specifically, as Fusion reports, the men were asked questions regarding "their partner's attractiveness, how many male friends and coworkers they perceived their female partner to have, how attractive they think these other men find their partner, and how many times they had sex with their partner in the last week."
The result? Men who believed their partners were attractive to the other men in their lives reported having more sex with their significant others.
As the Huffington Post points out, however, the study's findings are limited: It was unclear who initiated the sex, as well as "to what extent the couples ... were having more frequent sex because the men were making a conscious choice to initiate more, and to what extent the men were simply responding to subconscious biological imperatives."
Of course, in light of modern birth control, a medical advancement that has made possible the detachment of sex from reproduction, sperm competition doesn't have to result in babies. If this study is to be believed, the phenomenon has taken on more of a psychological adaptation, a sort of behavioral motivation to ensure one's partner sticks around.
As for personal takeaways, we shouldn't necessarily rush to apply these findings to our own sex lives. Study co-author Todd K. Shackelford told the Huffington Post that "aside from people possibly gaining a better understanding of their partner's sexual reactions," how it might otherwise influence healthy relationship is uncertain.
Either way, ladies, it seems there's certainly no downside to those male friendships.