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Problems Encountered by Sex Researchers Essay

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2020


Sex research is an essential part in the society because it gives many solutions to public and social health problems. The information provided by sex research may help to counteract unplanned spending by governments in several ways. For example, it is recorded that one million teenage girls are impregnated in the U.S every year (Vern, & Bullough, 1996).

Such unwanted pregnancies will only increase the capital spending by the government in providing social, health and welfare services. Sex researchers put much effort in giving advice that would reduce such occurrences. On the contrary, the sex researchers experience problems that reduce the output as discussed below.

Problems Encountered by Sex Researchers

Sex researchers have endured several problems for several years due to the delicate nature of their profession. In most cases, problems would occur due to reasons solely attached to the topic. Some of the problems that sex researchers encounter in their work are discussed in the following paragraphs and include; research funding, role of ethics, truthful participants and Law Restrictions.


Research in sex has received a major blow due to funding issues that have been experienced for several years. Most of the funding problems have been pushed into actualization by conservative groups which put so much pressure on the issue. An example of such pressure is a group that forced an audit of publicly funded sex research in the summer of 2003 (Clark, 2005).

These came as a result of doubted usefulness and value of research that was obtained from sexual risk taking and the Asian prostitutes in San Francisco. “A similar scenario took place in Boston University Sexuality and Research Treatment Program where funding was withdrawn by the National Institute of Mental Health necessitating closure of the research section” (Clark, 2005). Generally, these problems of funding affect many sex researchers in a significant way considering their field of specialization is dying slowly.

Federal agencies have received pressure from conservative groups to cut spending plans on sex research putting into consideration current budget deficits (Clark, 2005). The big cuts in spending has adversely affected sex researchers and literally forced many of them to turn to drug companies for sponsorship.

This condition, however, is believed to be ruining the sex lives of very many people. It is clear, though, that understanding sexuality is of utmost importance because it is believed that it can satisfy relationships more than drugs would do.


From an ethical point of view, sex research has faced several setbacks due to the delicate nature of the topic. Sex researchers faced serious challenges in trying to produce ethical and non-exploitative research that would assist in collecting data from sex workers (Shaver, 2005).

Usually, it is very difficult to get a representative sample of the population due to unknown size and boundaries of a population. Also, due to the reputation of sex work as an illegal behavior, it is much more difficult to get the required information from participants. Generally, sex researchers are seen by the society as conducting weird business which also drags down their progress.

Truthful Participants

It is almost impossible for scientists to identify whether their interviewees are giving truthful information or not. In sex research, this has been a great concern because many people would not wish to expose their sex lives, problems, and general views on sex matters. As a result of these, many people would try to hide their sexual habits and appear as innocent individuals rather than sacrificing themselves. This is a major set back to sex researchers because they can only present their results as an estimate.

Recently, a study conducted to the same population of students over several years confirmed the point of untruthful participants (Boskey, 2008). The study recorded virginity pledges by students where half of these students did not accept taking virginity pledges one year later (Boskey, 2008). For that reason, most of sex research results are usually recorded as estimates.

Law Restrictions

Despite the benefits of sex research and adult/child sexual interaction, there are many barriers that prevent sex researchers from conducting their research on children. Therefore, sex researchers have the problem of how to get the information that they need from children participants. There are two ways that could be used by researchers to get the information include the use of interviews and longitudinal studies.

Holding random interviews is believed to be best way of getting sexual related information from children. However, this is usually an impossible occurrence and any researcher that would try it may be arrested and charged (Vern, & Bullough, 1996). This makes it very difficult for researchers to get such information from children.

Longitudinal studies would also a good way of conducting sex research on children. According to Mazur (1994) sexual interaction has been ignored while longitudinal studies in terms of ages and stages have been conducted in several years.

How Current Researchers are combating these Issues

Despite being hit hard by numerous problems in the execution of their sex research, sex researchers still look for ways of ensuring that the topic remains alive. In the event of untruthful information, sex scientists are employing techniques that will improve the quality of their data.

For instance, it has been noted that people give more genuine responses on computer-bases interviews than in one-on-one interviews. Therefore, sex researchers have resorted to using computer-based surveys where they need sensitive sexual information from their participants (Boskey, 2008). This brings in more accurate and genuine data as compared to face-to-face interview scenarios.

Areas that need Additional Research

Additional sex research should be increased in the following areas that may be of utmost importance in ensuring a safer environment.

  1. Sexual arousal and its significance in the society.
  2. Children/adolescents sexuality awareness in relation to reduction in STDs.
  3. Sex Education in relation to drug use among young adults.

Works Cited

Boskey, E. “How do Scientists know if people in their studies are saying the truth.” Web.

Clark, J. “Sex: The Big Turnfoff.” Psychology Today. Psychologytoay, 2005. Web.

Mazur, T. Children and sex. Human sexuality: An encyclopedia. V. L. Bullough, & B. Bullough (Eds.). New York: Garland Publishing Company. Print

Shaver, F. “Sex work research: methodological and ethical challenges.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 20.3 (2005): 296-319. Print

Vern, E. and Bonnie B. “Problems of Research into Adult/Child Sexual Interaction.” 8.3 (1996): 296-319.

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