Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star in Fifty Shades of Grey
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star in Fifty Shades of GreyUniversal Pictures

Having fantasies about threesomes, oral sex or making love in a romantic location are normal, but dreaming about golden showers are not, a study has found.

Published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers from the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and the Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal attempted to define what constitutes sexual deviance for the first time.

The researchers looked specifically at what sexual fantasies people had: from sex with animals to threesomes.

Over 1,500 participants from Quebec responded to a questionnaire describing their fantasies. They were asked to describe their favourite sexual fantasy in detail.

Christian Joyal, lead author of the study, said: "Clinically, we know what pathological sexual fantasies are: they involve non-consenting partners, they induce pain, or they are absolutely necessary in deriving satisfaction. But apart from that, what exactly are abnormal or atypical fantasies? To find out, we asked people in the general population – as simple as that.

How normal are your fantasies?

  • Rare fantasies
    Sex with a child or animal
  • Unusual fantasies
    "Golden showers"
    Cross-dressing
    Sex with a prostitute
    Abusing an intoxicated person
  • Typical fantasies
    Sex in a romantic location (female)
    Receiving oral sex
    Sex with two women (male)

"Our main objective was to specify norms in sexual fantasies, an essential step in defining pathologies. And as we suspected, there are a lot more common fantasies than atypical fantasies."

Findings showed that men described their fantasies in more detail than women. It also showed that up to 60% of women expressed fantasies about submission, such as being tied up, spanked or forced to have sex.

However, researchers found that women clearly distinguish between fantasy and desire, making it clear that they never want to act on these fantasies. In comparison, most men said they would like their fantasies to become reality.

Men were also more likely to fantasise about extramarital relationships than women, the researchers added.

Joyal said: "One of the most intriguing findings has to do with the significant number of unique male fantasies – for example, regarding transexual women with male genitalia, anal sex among heterosexuals, and the idea of watching their partner have sex with another man. Evolutionary biological theories cannot explain these fantasies, which, among males, are typically desires.

"Overall, these findings allow us to shed light on certain social phenomena, such as the popularity of the book Fifty Shades of Grey with women."