Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Partnered sex on decline, study says

Sexual frequency is declining in the United States, according to a study by Indiana University researchers. “Our study adds to a growing body of research that has reported on declines in sex,” said Jane Fu, a research associate at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, who co-led the study. “The declines in partnered sexual activity seen in our study are consistent with findings from studies in the U.K., Australia, Germany, and Japan.” Debby Herbenick, a professor of sexual and reproductive health at the School of Public Health who co-led the study, said the decreases are likely caused by several factors. “The decreases are not easily explained by a single shift, such as health status, technology, access to pornography or stress,” Herbenick said. “There are likely multiple reasons for these changes in sexual expression, and we need more research to understand how these changes may be related to changes in relationships, happiness and overall well-being.” The study of sexual frequency is particularly important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on relationships, Herbenick said. Declining sexual activity among adults has consequences for human fertility and health. Published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the study includes a comprehensive assessment of diverse sexual behaviors. The information came from U.S. participants ages 14 to 49 during the 2009 and 2018 waves of the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, a confidential nationally representative survey conducted online. A total of 1,647 adolescents ages 14 to 17 and 7,055 adults ages 18 to 49 were included. “The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior includes detailed data on a variety of sexual behaviors, so we could examine more precisely whether declines in vaginal intercourse might be explained by increases in other sexual behaviors, such as oral sex,” Herbenick said. “However, we found that was not the case. Rather, we found that from 2009 to 2018, fewer adults engaged in a range of partnered sexual activities. We were also surprised to find that, among adolescents, both partnered sex and solo masturbation had declined.”

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