A new study from Indiana University suggests that online formats for delivering evidence-based information about women's sexual health could help increase their sexual agency, advocacy and pleasure. Devon Hensel, who led the study in partnership with the sex research company OMGYES, says most of the existing research on sex focuses on the physical aspects of the experience for women, but very little is known about the skills -- like the confidence for a woman to ask for what she wants, or having the right words to guide a partner -- that empower them to make sex even better. Researchers delved into whether using online sexual health resources could help develop these skills. They found that after a month of use, women reported increases in skills like their knowledge of what feels good to them and their belief that sex can continue to get better. Hensel says such skills important not only for sex, but also in the context of women's everyday lives. For the study, Hensel and her team surveyed 870 women from around the world who were new to the OMGYES website, which educates women about sexual pleasure with content informed by previous IU research findings. Participants in the study were surveyed before using the site and one month after using it. According to the study, participants reported statistically significant increases in knowledge about their own pleasure preferences, their confidence and positivity about that knowledge, and how pleasurable their sexual experiences were during both masturbation and partner sex. Hensel says the findings show that presenting this information through videos and other online content can empower women to broaden the ways in which they understand, advocate for and enjoy sexual pleasure.
In other news, a new survey from the IU Environmental Resilience Institute reveals that Hoosiers are more concerned about a future disease outbreak than they were before 2020. The findings are part of the Hoosier Life Survey 2.0, a comprehensive effort by IU researchers to gauge Indiana residents' environmental attitudes that follows up on the first Hoosier Life Survey conducted in 2019. Researchers designed the survey to get a sense of how Indiana residents coped in 2020, a year filled with health-, economic- and justice-related crises. Conducted between October 2020 and March 2021, the survey revealed nearly 1 in 2 Indiana residents anticipate that their family is likely to be affected by a new disease outbreak in the next decade -- compared to the 1 in 5 who felt that way when they were surveyed in 2019. Matt Houser, co-leader of the survey, says the study revealed that Hoosiers generally express much more pessimism about the future than they did in the initial survey, issued just before the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes sense, he says, after the tough year people have had. Other findings show that nearly 2 out of 3 Hoosiers reported their lives in 2020 as being worse than they were in 2019, with 28% rating the year as "much worse." Seventy percent of those who regarded their lives as worse indicated that the pandemic was the biggest factor. Over half of respondents said they knew someone who had contracted COVID-19, and nearly 40% said they or someone in their household had lost a job or had their work hours cut due to the pandemic. Additionally, the survey showed about a 5% increase in both the number of respondents who believe that climate change is happening and in those who believe that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Overall, 84% of respondents agreed that climate change is happening, and 83% attribute the cause of climate change at least partly to human activities. Further analysis showed that a significant portion of these gains can be attributed to Hoosier Republicans' change in beliefs, Houser says. Generational differences were also found, with 35% of Gen Z and millennial Hoosiers expecting the problem of climate change to "get much worse" in their lifetimes compared to 17%, 15% and 11% of Gen Xers, baby boomers and those in the silent generation, respectively. Additionally, Gen Z and millennial Hoosiers were more likely than all other generations to rank racial inequality as the most significant problem facing Indiana right now, with about 14% of the younger generations ranking this as the top problem compared to 3% to 5% of those in all other generations. COVID-19, however, was seen as the biggest issue for Indiana by the majority of Hoosiers, regardless of age.