Couples Having Less Sex than Those a Decade Earlier, Study Finds

Posted March 09, 2017

People in their 20s have sex more than 80 times per year, declining to 60 times per year by age 45, and 20 times per year by age 65.

Researchers reckon that the decline in sex from the 90s to now could be down to changes in the way we conduct relationships, - we're less likely to have longterm, steady partners (and those with longterm partners were shown to have more frequent sex) - our likelihood to be living at home in adulthood, and the possibility that we're spending more time on social media instead of with our partners. Because the survey does not define what "having sex" is, it's left up to the interpretation of the respondent, meaning different generations could define sexual activity differently (oral sex vs. penile-vaginal intercourse, for example).

American adults of every age group are having less sex than they were a generation ago, suggests a study published Tuesday in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Furthermore, data collected from the General Social Survey (a nationally representative sample of more than 26,000 USA adults who were asked about their sexual behavior dating back to 1989) revealed that overall, Americans had sex a total of about nine fewer times per year between 2010 and 2014 than they did between 1995 and 1999. Overall, Americans had sex about 9 fewer times per year in 2010-2014 compared to 1995-1999.

While in the 1990s more married people were having sex compared to unmarried people, that trend seems to have swapped. "It's probably some of both", said Jean M. Twenge, the study's lead author, who teaches psychology at San Diego State University. But now more Americans, particularly more educated or affluent ones, don't get married until they are 30 or older. "With less sex and less happiness, it's no wonder that American adults seem deeply dissatisfied these days", Twenge said. A decline in sexual frequency was almost ubiquitous across those surveyed, affecting people across races, education levels, and geographic location.

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"Relatedly", they continue, "employees who seek advancement within their organizations or who rely upon their own work engagement to generate income should be especially mindful of tending to their sex lives".

As more people put off parenthood until later, the combination of middle age and child-rearing may create a "perfect storm" of sexual infrequency, the study said.

"You could say, maybe that's the Great Recession, but it doesn't come back up", Twenge said. "Those are two things that tend to covary a lot with people's happiness".

In fact, people who reported working more hours actually had sex more often than people who worked less.

"If you think about the way people spend their time, that's what had the biggest effect on people's lives", Twenge said.