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Discovering Human Sexuality

Fifth Edition

Simon LeVay, Janice Baldwin, and John Baldwin

Publication Date - 05 October 2020

ISBN: 9780197522578

720 pages

In Stock

An evidence-based, accessible introduction to the study of sexuality and the diverse ways in which it brings joys and challenges to our lives


Now in its fifth edition, Discovering Human Sexuality has established itself as a popular and widely praised text that respects diversity both in the sexual world and among the students who read it. The backgrounds of the authors--in biology, sociology, teaching, and writing--have made possible a text that is multidisciplinary, authoritative, sex-positive, and a delight to read.

The scope of Discovering Human Sexuality ranges from homosexuality in ancient Greece to the recent Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, while covering a stunningly diverse array of topics. Questions considered include: How does the menstrual cycle work? What's "splitting the bamboo"? Can premature ejaculation be treated? If a man has undetectable levels of HIV, can he have sex without condoms? Which sex offenders will repeat their crimes? Is there a gay gene? What's wrong with polygamy? Why do some transgender youth "desist"? Is emergency contraception abortion? How do recent changes in Title IX regulations affect the rights of college students? This book gives factual answers to important questions and provides material for informed debate for issues without a single solution.

New to this Edition

  • Updated to include current events and references, with further evidence-based surveys on hot topics
  • New material in sections focused on diversity and inclusion
  • Updated material on gender identity (Chapter 4)
  • Updated material on sexual violence, including a discussion of recent changes in Title IX regulations affecting survivors and alleged perpetrators of sexual assault at U.S. colleges (Chapter 16)
  • New boxes discussing such topics as how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the sex work industry, "rapid-onset gender dysphoria" (ROGD), whether children are being "prematurely sexualized" by exposure to sex-themed TV shows and online media, and whether allowing the use of child sex dolls and robots would increase or decrease the incidence of sexual offending against actual children
  • A new Digital Dashboard that makes it easier to incorporate instructor and student materials into your LMS system

About the Author(s)

Simon LeVay is a British born neuroscientist turned science writer and teacher. He has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and has taught at Harvard, the University of California, and Stanford University. He is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation, Second Edition (OUP, 2017).

Janice Baldwin and John Baldwin are sociologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They have been collaborators and writers on many papers and projects in the area of sex, sexuality, and sex education. The Baldwins co-teach a dynamic undergraduate Human Sexuality course at UCSB that has been regularly voted the Best Course there, and they have been named Best Professors multiple times. They also co-created-with their upper division students-a sex information website: SexInfoOnline.


"Discovering Human Sexuality is a totally contemporary textbook that touches on all major relevant topics of human sexuality. Students will find it difficult to put the book down once they start reading it."--Ebo Tei, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

"Discovering Human Sexuality is thorough, complete, and covers a wide range of areas relating to sexuality."--Maren Scull, University of Colorado Denver

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Sexuality: Pathways to Understanding
    Chapter 2. Women's Bodies
    Chapter 3. Men's Bodies
    Chapter 4. Sex Development and Diversity
    Chapter 5. Attraction, Arousal, and Response
    Chapter 6. Sexual Behavior
    Chapter 7. Sexual Relationships
    Chapter 8. Fertility, Pregnancy, and Childbirth
    Chapter 9. Contraception and Abortion
    Chapter 10. Sexuality across the Lifespan: From Birth to Adolescence
    Chapter 11. Sexuality across the Lifespan: Adulthood
    Chapter 12. Sexual Orientation
    Chapter 13. Atypical Sexuality
    Chapter 14. Sexual Disorders
    Chapter 15. Sexually Transmitted Infections
    Chapter 16. Sexual Assault, Harassment, and Partner Violence
    Chapter 17. Sex Work
    Appendix A: Sex and Evolution
    Appendix B: Sex and the Nervous System

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