So, do men always have sex on the mind? Not if they are married Orthodox Jews, according to new research.
In popular culture, men who go through a stint of abstinence are often portrayed as crazed and unable to avoid sexual thoughts. But scientists in Jerusalem this week suggested that Orthodox men actually think about sex less when it is not an option.
Orthodox Jewish couples abstain from all physical activity during the women’s period and for seven days afterwards. Men are prohibited from masturbating and pornography is proscribed.
The US-based Binah Yitzrit Foundation, which explores the intersection between religion and science, funded a study in Israel that saw Israeli Orthodox men take swabs measuring their testosterone levels during and after their monthly abstinence stint.
Rick Goldberg, the founder and head of the foundation, conducted the research together with Hadassah Hospital endocrinologist Orit Barenholz.
Instead of finding that during abstinence testosterone levels were high — which would point to pent-up sexual desire — they found that testosterone dipped during abstinence and rose significantly afterwards. Mr Goldberg said that this indicates that Orthodox men are “less likely to even think about or imagine sex” during abstinence.
This means that instead of men’s sexual energy being high during the period, when a woman is unlikely to want sex, it is concentrated into times when she is more likely to want sex.
Mr Goldberg said he has shown that following Jewish law leads couples towards a “more compatible marriage sexually”.