Treating sex as a taboo topic is a thing of the past.
After all, knowledge is power.
As the landscapes related to sexual health, attraction, and needs change, you may wonder what people's sexual habits look like now.
In this article, we’ll examine numbers and facts to get to the core of what it’s like to be a sexual being.
How common is sexual activity among teenagers?
For people in the US, the average age of first intercourse is 17.2 years old for females and 16.8 years old for males.
A Guttmacher Institute report proved that premarital sex has been common for a long time for women. Around 48% of women who turned 15 from 1954 to 1963 had premarital sex before reaching 20 years old. From 1994 to 2003, the statistic increased to 74%.
Most adolescent sexual behavior happens within romantic relationships or with ex-partners and friends.
Romantic and sexual contact interest usually begins at 11 to 14 years old.
54% of adolescents between 15 to 19 years old have had a sexual experience.
Adolescents have less sex today compared to a decade ago, according to a 2009 and 2019 report from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Relationships.
In a 2005 to 2019 analysis, 70% of youth have had penile-vaginal intercourse by age 19.
In New York, 1 in 5 high school students is sexually active.
44% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 have had oral sex with a partner (different gender).
1 in 10 teenagers aged 15 to 19 has had anal sex with a partner (different sex).
Sexually experienced teenagers ages 14 to 19 years are more likely to report having at least three lifetime sexual partners (including anal, oral, and vaginal sex).
10% of boys and 7% of girls in high school have had 4 or more sexual partners in their lifetime, according to one report.
Among teens 15 to 19 years old, 42% have never had sex. This is slightly lower than the number for men at 44%.
2% of female teens and 7% of male teens report having their first sexual intercourse with someone they had just met.
For most teens abstaining from sex, the most common reason is religion or morals. This is followed by not finding the right person yet, and not wanting to get pregnant.
Sources: CDC, National Library of Medicine, Act for Youth, CDC (2)
How common is sexual activity among adults?
28% of Americans over 45 said they had sexual intercourse once a week or more in the last six months. Meanwhile, 40% reported having intercourse at least once a month.
Older age is related to sexual behavior decline for women aged 50 or older. During this age, the findings include:
- Only 5% per year of age experience penile-vaginal intercourse
- Only 7% per year of age receive or give oral sex
93.5% of men and 95.3% of women between 18 to 44 years old report having sexual contact with the opposite sex.
The median number of opposite-sex partners among people 25 to 44 years old is 4.3 for women and 6.6 for men.
A 2010 survey found that 56.9% of single males between 18 to 24 had not had vaginal sex in the past year. Here are the other statistics for different ages who have not had vaginal sex in the same period:
- Ages 25 to 29: 46.6%
- Ages 30 to 39: 39.6%
- Ages 40 to 49: 48.9%
- Ages 50 to 59: 67.7%
40% of men between 25 and 59 years old reported having anal sex. The same statistic can be observed for women.
64% of men between 18 to 59 years old report receiving oral sex from a woman in the past year. This is more than the number of women who received oral sex from a man at 58%.
Half of the women in a cohabiting relationship from ages 18 to 69 report receiving oral sex in the last year.
According to researchers from Pennsylvania State University, 3 to 13 minutes of sex is adequate to desirable. Anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes is too long.
In a survey of more than 1,700 men and women who had one-night stands, 80% of men said they felt positive about the experience, compared to only 54% of women. Women mainly attributed the negativity to feeling used. Men who dubbed one-night stands as a negative experience attributed it to loneliness.
An Ohio State University study reported that men think about sex a whopping 188% more times than women. This equates to 2.3 times an hour.
Two-thirds of college students have experienced being friends with benefits with someone. Of these, 22.7% said they had intercourse only. Meanwhile, 8% reported doing everything but intercourse.
In a 2020 research, the following percentage of adults ages 18 to 44 engaged in sexual activity every week:
- Heterosexual men: 50.8% to 55.8%
- Heterosexual women: 52% to 57.2%
- Gay, lesbian, or bisexual men: 32.8% to 53.7%
- Gay, lesbian, or bisexual women: 44.7% to 59.2%
61% of millennials have had a one-night stand, compared to 31% who have had one or two one-night stands. Meanwhile, 16% have had three to five one-night stands.
57% of millennials have sexted. Of these people, 11% do it numerous times a week, and 7% do it daily. Around 49% have sent naked photos, but only 25% used Snapchat to do this.
For most millennials (35%), sex lasts 15 to 40 minutes. For 23%, it lasts 5 to 15 minutes. For 21%, sex lasts 30 to 45 minutes.
57% of Americans have tried having sex outdoors or in public.
29% have had sex on their first date.
1 in 3 adults wants to have more sex than they currently do.
More men (35%) than women (15%) think casual sex is acceptable.
33% of young adults (no age given) are more likely to have rebound sex than older people. Meanwhile, 16% have experienced engaging in sex to get back at someone else.
28% of respondents in one study (regardless of age) admitted to having a threesome.
According to a study, there is wide variability in what people consider as “having sex.” Here’s what people consider sex:
- 80.8% consider anal-genital intercourse as sex,
- 45% consider manual genital stimulation as sex,
- 71% consider oral sex as sex
According to a 2010 report, respondents report more than 40 combinations of sexual activity as their recent sexual experience.
Sources: American Association of Retired Persons, National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, Research Gate, Live Science, National Library of Medicine, Muscle and Fitness, ABC News
What are the statistics for same-sex sexual activity?
17.4% of women report same-sex contact in their lifetime. This is almost three times compared to only 6.2% of men with same-sex contact.
8.2% of Americans, or around 19 million people, have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior.
11% or around 25.6 million Americans report being attracted to someone of the same sex.
From 2006 to 2008, only 1% to 3% of males and 2% to 5% of females said they were bisexual.
In a 2011 study, bisexual men showed a distinct arousal pattern different from homosexual and heterosexual men.
A 2011 report from CDC found that among people ages 25 to 44, 6% of men and 12% of women engaged in any form of sex with someone of the same sex.
Among women ages 15 to 19, 15% have had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex. For men, only 3% have experienced the same thing.
Sources: CDC, Kinsey Institute, William Institute Law, National Library of Medicine, CDC (2), Act for Youth
How likely are men and women to orgasm in sexual activities?
Older age for men is linked to a lower likelihood of orgasm. Meanwhile, age is not associated with the partner’s orgasm, both for women and men.
64% of women report having an orgasm during their recent sexual event. This is less than 85% of men who reported the same thing.
Men are more likely to orgasm compared to women during vaginal intercourse.
Women are more likely to reach orgasm when engaging in a myriad of sex acts and when oral sex or vaginal intercourse happens.
As men get older, their likelihood of orgasm lowers. The opposite is true for women.
Women orgasm more when alone than when with a partner.
62% of women in a partnered relationship say they are satisfied with the consistency of their orgasms.
Both genital and non-genital orgasms are possible for people with spinal cord injuries.
Men orgasm 85.1% of the time, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is more compared to only 61.1% of heterosexual women. For lesbians, the orgasm statistic is 74.7%. Bisexual women had the lowest likelihood of orgasm at 58%.
Women need 10 to 20 minutes of stimulation or orgasm.
One study by Indiana University proved that “coregasms” are real, and 10% of men and women experienced them during exercise.
Around half of women have faked an orgasm.
Sources: National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, Pubmed.Gov, Indiana University Bloomington, Eureka Alert, ABC News
What are people attracted to?
People have varying tastes and standards, but for most women, here are the factors that contribute to attraction:
- Confidence: 75%
- Playfulness: 71%
- Humor: 66%
- Spontaneity: 58%
- Muscles: 39%
- Big penis: 27%
For men, here are the things that contribute to attraction:
- Confidence: 71%
- Playfulness: 69%
- Humor: 66%
- Spontaneity: 58%
- Big boobs: 46%
- Big butts: 44%
Source: Muscle and Fitness
How common are BDSM, fantasies, and fetishes?
There are no significant differences between BDSM practitioners and the general population regarding depression, anxiety, psychopathology, OCD, psychological sadism and masochism.
In one study, 2.2% of men and 1.3% of women admitted to being involved in BDSM the previous year.
In response to an SM story, 22% of males and 12% of females reported erotic responses.
When asked whether or not there was an erotic response to being bitten, 50% of males and 55% of females said yes.
A 2007 study using online discussion groups found that around 5,000 people have fetishes. These can be on specific body parts (33%) or objects associated with the body (30%).
Fetishes relating to feet are the most common.
Only 36% of millennials engage in BDSM.
Only half of Americans talk to their partner about their fantasies.
42% of millennials consider themselves sexually adventurous.
3 in 10 people want to be more adventurous in their sex life
4 in 10 people, especially men, want to be more adventurous with their partners.
People who consider themselves adventurous are more likely to be satisfied with their sex life.
28% of people who don’t talk about their fantasies don’t think their sex lives are exciting.
Sources: Northern Illinois University, National Library of Medicine, Nature, Muscle and Fitness, ABC News
What is the sexual health state of most individuals?
The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 people living with HIV in the US are unaware of their infection.
1 in 4 men who seek medical help for erectile dysfunction is below 40 years old.
10% of men from 40 to 70 years old suffer from severe or complete erectile dysfunction.
22% of men experience moderate or complete erectile dysfunction at 40. This statistic increases to 49% by 70 years old.
16.9% of men 50 and older report using erectile medication on their last sexual encounter.
A 2011 study that involved healthy undergraduate men found that 4% of men used erectile medication recreationally at least once in their life. Only 1.4% are current users.
7% of men and 30% of women report pain from vaginal intercourse. For anal sex, 72% of women experience pain. This is higher compared to only 15% of men who experience the same thing.
The CDC estimates 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections. The total infection is now at 110 million, costing $16 billion.
According to the CDC, 40% of women in college were infected with HPV within 24 months of their first time having sex.
In the US, around 20 million people have NPV, with 6.2 million infections per year.
According to the CDC, there are 446.6 cases of chlamydia, 106.1 cases of gonorrhea, and 5.5 cases of syphilis per 100,000 people.
CDC estimates that 1 in 6 people from 14 to 49 has genital herpes.
According to clinical psychologist Patrick Carnes, there is 1 woman addicted to sex for every 3 men with the condition.
47% of young singles are scared of being infected with AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Sources: CDC, Wiley Online Library, Boston University School of Medicine, National Library of Medicine, National Library of Medicine (2), CDC (2), CDC (3), CDC (4), University of Florida, ABC News
How common is contraception use among people?
In the US, 66% of men and 56% of women report using a condom for their first sex. Condom use is more common among teenagers, with 78% of males and 72% of females using it on their first sex.
Almost 3 in 10 men report losing their erection while putting on a condom at least once.
Men who report erection loss with condoms are twice as likely to remove their condom prematurely during the last three condom uses. Around 40.8% of men who reported erection loss due to condom prematurely removed it, compared to 21.3% who did not report problems.
99% of women from 15 to 44 have used contraception. Here are the specific statistics:
- Pill: 17.1%
- Female sterilization: 16.5%
- IUD: 3.5%
In one report, 10.2% of women from 15 to 44 years old use male condoms as their preferred contraception method.
Another report found that 6.2% use vasectomy as a contraceptive method, while 3.2% use withdrawal as a contraception method.
A United Nations report found that 63% of women who were married or in a cohabiting relationship used contraception. For Middle and Western Africa, only 25% used contraception. In Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and North America, 70% used contraception.
In instances where condoms fail, it’s when users don’t handle them correctly. Here are the most common condom-related mistakes and issues among high school students:
- Condom breakage/slippage: 37%
- Did not hold the condom at the base of the penis when pulling out: 49%
- Did not roll the condom all the way down 25%
- Did not squeeze the tip of the condom: 71%
59% of people ages 18 to 24 report using condoms, compared to only 44% among 30 to 34-year-olds. This suggests that the older people get, the less they bother with condoms.
Sources: United Nations, Muscle and Fitness, Guttmacher Institute
How many people watch pornography?
42% of teenagers between 10 to 17 years old had been exposed to pornography on the internet for the past year. Among these, 66% reported the exposure as unwanted.
A national study found that 14% of respondents reported using a sexually explicit website.
25% of men report visiting an explicit website in the past 30 days. This is more than the number of women who report visiting a pornographic site at 4%.
The average age of Pornhub viewers is 35.3.
The top Pornhub searches are:
23% of Pornhub viewers are women. 24% are 18 to 24 years old, and 17% are 45 to 54.
26% of millennials include pornography in their sexual routine.
Around 40 million people look at porn websites.
Sources: Kinsey Institute, Pediatrics, Albany EDU, Vocativ, Muscle and Fitness, ABC News
Are sex toys a major part of people’s lives?
According to Adam and Eve, an online adult store, $15 billion is spent annually on sex toys. Around 82% of adults use sex toys.
Roughly half of the women in the US use vibrators.
68% of people don’t use any vibrating devices in sexual activities.
Sources: Adam and Eve, Muscle and Fitness
Is self-stimulation common among men and women?
22% of Americans over 45 years old engage in masturbation at least once a week.
Over half of the women between 18 to 49 reported masturbating during the previous 90 days. Among these women, the rates were highest among those between 25 to 29 years old. For older age groups, fewer women reported self-stimulation.
1 in 3 women in all relationships in the 60 to 69-year cohort admitted to recent masturbation.
A 2010 report found that among men 18 to 59 years old, more than 60% masturbated in the last month. Meanwhile, 27.9% of men 70 years old and older did the same.
The same report found that among women 18 to 59 years old, 37.8% masturbated in the same time frame. Meanwhile, only 11% of women 70 and older reported doing the same.
Although masturbation is common, it has decreased.
In a 2018 study, 40% of teens ages 14 to 17 reported masturbation in the past year.
In 2009, the statistic went down to 56%.
According to one study, 35% of men masturbate daily, and 60% do it numerous times a week.
The same study suggested that 83% of women masturbate.
Around 12% do it every day, and 31% do it several times weekly.
Sources: American Association of Retired Persons, Kinsey Institute, Act for Youth, Muscle, and Fitness
How often do people engage in prostitution?
Around 15% of men are estimated to have had sex with a sex worker.
Only 10% to 30% of prostitutes work on the streets.
The majority work in brothels and massage parlors or as call girls and escorts.
In one study from 1948, 69% of men have had at least one experience with a sex worker.
In a separate study, 3 in 10 single men, 30 years or older, have paid for sex.
Sources: National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago, ABC News
What is the sexual experience like in romantic relationships and marriage?
One study found that 50% of respondents between 18 to 24 years old stated that their most recent sexual partner was someone they dated.
Men report more arousal and pleasure if their recent sexual encounter was with their partner.
They also had fewer problems with pain, orgasm, and erectile function compared to men whose last sexual experience was with a non-relationship partner.
For both men and women, sexual satisfaction is directly linked to frequent sexual caressing, kissing, and cuddling.
For men, frequent cuddling and kissing predicted happiness in relationships.
Those who are sexually dissatisfied in their relationship are more likely to divorce.
From 2016 to 2018, the frequency of sex for married couples are:
- Not at all for men: 1.7%
- Not at all for women: 1.3%
- Once or twice a year for men: 5.2%
- Once or twice a year for women: 5.5%
- 1-3 times a month for men: 35.4%
- 1-3 times a month for women: 32.4%
- Weekly or more for men: 57.7%
- Weekly or more for women: 60.9%
Sex declines after having children.
Around 89% of women report resuming sexual activity 6 months after giving birth.
The factors cited for this case are:
- Body image issues
- Sexual dysfunction
- Lack of sleep
- Conflicting schedules
- Demands of parenting
25% of married respondents in a survey have only had one sexual partner.
Evidence in one survey suggests that sex can lose its spark among couples.
For those who have been together less than three years, 58% say their sex lives are very exciting.
At over 10 years, only 29% say the same thing.
79% of new couples say they are very satisfied with their sex life, compared to 52% of long-term couples.Sources: Kinsey InstituteNational Library of MedicineMuscle and FitnessABC News