National Sex Study reveals what we are up to

National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior

Strand Book Store by Nick Sherman (flickr/creativecommons

Strand Book Store
by Nick Sherman
(flickr/creativecommons

A new study, the largest in 20 years, represents a clarion call for anyone having sex (or not having sex for that matter). Researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion (CSHP) at Indiana University’s School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation examine the sexual experience and condom-use in almost 6000 people, ages 14-94.

“These data about sexual behaviors and condom use in contemporary America are critically needed by medical and public health professionals who are on the front lines addressing issues such as HIV, sexually transmissible infections, and unintended pregnancy.” (CSHP Director, Michael Reece)

Here are a few things that caught our attention, but it is definitely worth a fair read because you will learn a lot and, more important, it allows you to analyze your own behaviors.

[T]he study helps both the public and professionals to understand how condom use patterns vary across these varying stages in people’s relationships and across ages, adding that “findings show that condoms are used twice as often with casual sexual partners as with relationship partners, a trend that is consistent for both men and women across age groups that span 50 years.” (CSHP Associate Director, Debby Herbenick)

Condom use is of course up to 1 in 4 sexual encounters, although for single people it is 1 in 3, and people of color in America use condoms more than their white counterparts. That may sound like good news except that that means as many as 66-75% are having unprotected sex. 

Adults using a condom for intercourse were just as likely to rate the sexual extent positively in terms of arousal, pleasure and orgasm than when having intercourse without one.

Click here to see Condom Use Graph

Sexual behaviors, from solo and partner masturbation and oral sex to vaginal and anal intercourse. Males masturbate alone more than females, not surprising. But there is near gender equity during our 40s, with males at 76% and females at 65%.

Females are having very little anal penetration, 4-5% before age 18, jumping to 18% by age 20, and then stays around 22% until age 40 and then dropping drastically after that.

Males performing oral sex on females gets into the double digits, 18%, by age 16, and steadily rises to its peak at 74% for ages 25-29, and then slowly declines after that.

Females performing oral sex on males is predictably is substantially greater but males do actually reciprocate in greater numbers only in our 30s.

Click here to see Sexual Behavior Graph

The data continues to show that adolescents are actually having less sex than previous studies (that focused only on teens) have suggested.

Photo of Roman Lesbian Statue by Rob Meredith (flickr/creativecommons

Photo of Roman Lesbian Statue by Rob Meredith (flickr/creativecommons

The study confirms that beyond the stats of sexual orientation in men and women, the numbers of American’s having had same-gender sex at some point in their lives is “higher.”

And, oh yes, the study confirms that males report the incidence of their female partners’ frequency of orgasm at 85% while females say it’s only 64%.

You can download the study’s full report by going to the National Sex Study website.

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner is co-founder of VenusPlusX, and writes frequently on global sexual freedom, American fundamentalists exporting hate and homophobia, and grassroots activism.
Alison Gardner