Why Do Men Report Having More Sex Partners Than Women?

Why Do Men Report Having More Sex Partners Than Women?

One of the most reliable findings across studies of human sexual behavior is that heterosexual men report substantially more lifetime sexual partners on average compared to heterosexual women. In theory, the numbers reported by straight men and women should be fairly similar, right? However, we often see guys reporting partner counts that are twice as high as that of women. So why is that? How do we explain this gender difference? 

A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers some valuable insight.

Read More

Summer Lovin’: Research Finds That We Have More Sex In The Summer

Summer Lovin’: Research Finds That We Have More Sex In The Summer

Our sexual behavior patterns change with the seasons--and with the shift from spring to summer just around the corner, research suggests that a change in sexual behavior is likely to follow. Specifically, there seems to be a reliable peak in sexual activity during the summer months.

Read More

Changes in Americans' Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Since the 1980s (Infographic)

Changes in Americans' Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors Since the 1980s (Infographic)

In what ways have the sexual attitudes and behaviors of American adults changed in the last thirty or so years? For a look at the answer, check out the infographic below, which reviews selected data from the General Social Survey, including information on number of partners, how many people have had casual sex in the last year, and attitudes toward sex outside of marriage. To learn more about other changes that have occurred in Americans' sexual attitudes, check out this article for a look at how Americans' views on sexual morality have evolved.

Read More

How Much Sexual Experience Are You Comfortable With Your Partner Having?

How Much Sexual Experience Are You Comfortable With Your Partner Having?

The amount of sexual experience you have (or don’t have) could potentially affect how willing other people are to date or have sex with you, according to a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research. However, what makes for a desirable sexual history depends upon many things, including whether you are male or female and, further, whether we’re talking about desirability for a short-term sexual relationship vs. a long-term romantic relationship.

Read More

More Partners, Less Sex: How Sex is Changing in Britain

More Partners, Less Sex: How Sex is Changing in Britain

In what ways have people's sex lives changed in the last twenty years? Results from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) offers some insight, at least in terms of how things have changed for folks in Britain. In the infographic below, data from the Natsal-3 are compared to data from earlier versions of this survey, and they suggest that British people today seem to be having sex with larger numbers of people, but they are doing it less often. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at these and other findings.

Read More

Summer Lovin’: Sexual Activity Peaks During Warmer Months

Summer Lovin’: Sexual Activity Peaks During Warmer Months

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.

Read More

Infographic: What It's Like To Be A Porn Star

Infographic: What It's Like To Be A Porn Star

Many people are curious about the lives of porn stars. For example, how do they feel about themselves and the work that they do? How much money do they make? How many sex partners do they have during their career? It turns out that surprisingly little research has explored such questions. However, two recently published studies describe (separately) what the lives of male and female porn stars are like. The results are summarized in the infographics below.

Read More

Infographic: Changes In Americans' Sexual Behavior In The Past 20 Years

Infographic: Changes In Americans' Sexual Behavior In The Past 20 Years

How have American adults' sexual attitudes and behaviors changed in the last two decades? Check out the infographic below for a look at what data from the General Social Survey has revealed. For a look at some additional ways that Americans' views on sex have changed in recent years, check out this article.

Read More

Does Grindr Really “Lead To Gonorrhea?”

Does Grindr Really “Lead To Gonorrhea?”

So far this year, two studies have been released reporting that use of Grindr and other smartphone hook-up apps is linked to a higher prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among men who have sex with men (MSM). One of these studies was published in January in PLoS ONE (co-authored by yours truly), while the other was published just this month in Sexually Transmitted Infections. The latter study made quite a media splash this past week, generating headlines such as this gem from The Daily Beast: “Grindr-ing Leads to Gonorrhea.” The subtitle for this headline pretty much sums up the current media narrative: “Log on, hook-up, get STD.” So there you have it—smartphone hookup apps cause STDs, right? It sounds like an intuitive conclusion, given the ease with which these apps allow one to locate sexual partners. But is the story really that simple? A closer look at the data suggests that we might want to rethink the notion that these apps cause risky sexual behavior. 

Read More

Some People’s Brains May Be “Wired” To Seek More Sex

Some People’s Brains May Be “Wired” To Seek More Sex

Whenever you survey people about how many sexual partners they have had in their lifetime, you undoubtedly find a lot of variability. Some people report one or two partners ever, while others report hundreds or perhaps thousands. How do we account for this incredible range in sexual history? A recent study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience suggests that it may have something to do with how our brains are “wired” to respond to sexual stimuli.

Read More

Sex Question Friday: How Many Sexual Partners Have Most People Had?

Sex Question Friday: How Many Sexual Partners Have Most People Had?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know:

“How many sex partners do men and women usually say they’ve had?”

Great question! Let’s take a look at a couple of nationally representative U.S. surveys for the answer. Specifically, let’s compare the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS), which sampled over 3,000 persons aged 18 to 59 during the 1990s [1], and the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), which surveyed over 13,000 individuals aged 15 to 44 between 2006 and 2008 [2]. Different surveys ask about sexual partners in different ways use different samples, so it is useful to consider a few sets of results.

Read More

Free Birth Control Doesn’t Make Women Promiscuous

Free Birth Control Doesn’t Make Women Promiscuous

For years, we have heard claims on many political talk and news shows that reducing birth control costs and/or making contraception more widely available will increase female promiscuity. For example, remember when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” after Fluke testified in a Congressional hearing about why we need to increase contraceptive access for women? Or how about the parade of horribles we’ve heard time and again from “experts” on Fox News about what will happen if birth control becomes more freely available? Case in point, consider this quote by Sandy Rios, Vice President of the Family PAC Federal, during a 2011 interview:

“Why in the world would you encourage your daughters, and your granddaughters, and whoever else comes behind you to have unrestricted, unlimited sex anytime, anywhere and that, somehow if you prevent pregnancy, that somehow you’ve helped them. I would submit to you that uncontrolled sexual behavior is what is harming our girls, not our lack of birth control.”

So is there any truth to what has been said? Will increasing access to contraception actually "encourage" women to have "unlimited" sexual partners and/or engage in riskier sexual behavior? According to a new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the answer is a resounding no.

Read More

Do Grindr And Other Smartphone Hookup Apps Promote Risky Sexual Behavior?

Do Grindr And Other Smartphone Hookup Apps Promote Risky Sexual Behavior?

In the last few years, several smartphone apps that help men who have sex with men (MSM) find casual sex partners have entered the market. Perhaps the most well-known of these is Grindr, which claims more than four million users. This app shows thumbnail photos of local guys who are arranged in order of how close they are to you. Users can chat, exchange pictures, and even send their exact GPS coordinates, if desired. The app can also be enabled to send instant notification of messages so that users can be immediately informed when someone is interested in them. Given that people today pretty much have their phones on them at all times and the ease with which these apps can locate available partners, some sexual health experts have begun to question whether usage of these apps might promote riskier sexual behavior. I sought to test this idea in a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Read More

Between The Sheets In Britain (Infographic)

Between The Sheets In Britain (Infographic)

Results from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) were just released and they give a fascinating glimpse into the sex lives of the British population. Also, by comparing these results to previous surveys, we can get some sense of how sexual practices have changed across time. Check out the infographic below for selected findings and click here to read more about this important sex survey.

Read More

College Women's Hookup Experiences (Infographic)

College Women's Hookup Experiences (Infographic)

Much has been written in the popular media about hookups among college students; however, surprisingly little research has actually been conducted on this topic, particularly with regard to how young women experience and perceive casual sex. The infographic below summarizes data from a recent study published in the American Sociological Review about college women's perceptions of sexual hookups and their experiences with orgasm during casual sex.

 

Read More

Facts About Male Porn Stars (Infographic)

Facts About Male Porn Stars (Infographic)

What is it like to work in the world of porn? I'm sure most of you could hazard a guess, but let's take a look at what the research says. Check out the infographic below for a glimpse into the sex lives of male porn stars as revealed by a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. For a look at the sex lives of female porn stars, check out this article.

Read More

Will Having A Lot Of Sexual Partners Wreck Your Love Life?

Will Having A Lot Of Sexual Partners Wreck Your Love Life?

The title of a forthcoming article in the journal Personal Relationships recently caught my eye: “Sowing Wild Oats: Valuable Experience, or a Field Full of Weeds?” As a sex researcher, I was naturally intrigued, but a little irritated. I despise article titles that give the impression that certain sexual behaviors are universally good or bad for everyone--in reality, nothing is ever that simple. My disappointment didn't stop with the title, though. In fact, after reading the entire article, I was left wondering how it ever got published in the first place because it feels more like an exercise in moralizing about the dangers of premarital sex than a piece of scientific writing.

Read More

Are College Students Today Hooking Up More Than Ever?

Are College Students Today Hooking Up More Than Ever?

For the last several years, the popular media has been running story after story about college “hookup culture.” These articles argue that today’s youth are more sex-crazed than previous generations and that casual sex is largely replacing traditional dating and relationships. But is there any truth to these frequent claims?  A closer look at trends in sexual behavior reveals that college students today are no more sexually active than students were a couple of decades ago.


Read More

Men Who Lack A Sense Of Smell Have Fewer Sexual Partners

Our sense of smell has long been known to play an important role in sexual attraction. Indeed, the multi-billion dollar perfume, cologne, and deodorant industries are founded on the premise that smelling good is one of the keys to finding and maintaining a relationship partner. However, those artificial scents aren’t the only thing driving attraction. More and more research suggests that human beings subtly communicate with one another through pheromones, chemicals naturally secreted by the body that can be picked up through our noses. As some particularly compelling evidence of the importance of having a functional set of nostrils, a new study reveals that lacking a sense of smell appears to have implications for one’s sex life.
Read More

Sex Degrees of Separation: How Many Indirect Sexual Partners Have You Had?

“Every time you sleep with someone, it’s like you’re having sex with all of their previous partners.” We’ve all heard something like this before, right? The basic idea is that for every direct sexual partner you have, you also accumulate some number of indirect partners (i.e., people who are intimately linked to the person you actually had sex with). So just how many indirect sexual partners have you had?  You may be surprised to find out.
Read More