Do our sexual activity patterns change with the seasons? A new study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections suggests that they do, and that there’s a reliable peak during the summer months.
In order to determine this, researchers looked at data obtained from patient visits to the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre located in Melbourne, Australia between the years 2006-2014. Specifically, they looked at how diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and patients’ reports of the number of partners they’d had in the past three months changed throughout the year.
What the researchers found was that, regardless of sexual orientation, both men and women reported having a higher number of recent partners when they visited the clinic during the summer months compared to the winter months.
In addition, rates of certain STIs were higher in the summer than they were in the winter. Specifically, men who have sex with men had higher odds of being diagnosed with urethral gonorrhea, while men who have sex with women had higher odds of being diagnosed with non-gonococcal urethritis (or NGU, an infection of the urethra most commonly caused by chlamydia).
In women, diagnoses of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) peaked in the autumn. Because PID is most commonly caused by untreated cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, the peak in autumn diagnoses of PID is consistent with higher rates of contracting STIs in the summer.
What accounts for this seasonal difference in sexual behavior? We can’t say for sure based on these data, but it could be a function of people taking more vacations in the summer—indeed, research suggests that there is likely a link between vacationing and sex.
Regardless of the reason, though, these findings suggest that public health efforts to promote safer sex might potentially be used to greater effect in the summer than at other times of year.
One caveat—although people tend to have less sex in the winter, there is an increase in sexual activity between Christmas and New Year’s. Check out this article to learn more about winter holiday sex.
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To learn more about this research, see: Cornelisse, V. J., Chow, E. P., Chen, M. Y., Bradshaw, C. S., & Fairley, C. K. (2016). Summer heat: A cross-sectional analysis of seasonal differences in sexual behaviour and sexually transmissible diseases in Melbourne, Australia. Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Image Credit: 123RF.com/zegers06
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