Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Monday 30 January 2023

How many people is it 'normal' to have had sex with?

26th November 2013

Share This Article:

What is the average number of sexual partners for men and women in the UK?

Well, it seems that the figure is rising. Women aged 16-44 have had an average of 7.7 sexual partners, according to Lancet – 20 years ago the average was 3.7. Now, men claim to have slept with an average of 11.7, which is up from 8.7 previously.

Conversely though, and despite our increased number of sexual partners, we seem to be having less actual sex than in the past – the number of times we’ve had sex in the past four weeks is now less than a decade ago.

It has also been revealed that the numbers of women experiencing same sex partnerships is increasing, alongside tolerance of same sex relationships in general.

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), carried out by medical journal the Lancet, surveyed 15,162 men and women aged between 16 and 74 and living in Britain between 2010 and 2012.

It is the third time the survey has been carried out – results are gathered and published once per decade, showing how behaviours have changed across the nineties, noughties and now.

 It also gathered information on STIs, finding that, of the sample group that were tested for Chlamydia, 1.5% of women and 1.1% of men tested positive – but that this rises to 3.1% and 2.3% in those aged 16-24.

Social deprivation and lack of condom use were the biggest risk factors for catching Chlamydia – although maybe surprisingly 60% of cases in women and 43% of cases in men were in those who had only had one sexual partner in the past year.

54% of women and 35% of men said that they had been tested in the last year, however, an increase that researchers describe as “encouraging.”

What about cheating on our other halves? We’re becoming less tolerant of it, according to the survey. Whilst 50% of women and 45% of men believed adultery to be wrong 20 years ago, this percentage has now risen to 70% and 63% respectively.

The survey also found that 45% of pregnancies in those between the ages of 16 and 19 were unplanned, but that the most unplanned pregnancies (62%) were in women aged 20-34.

Factors putting women at risk of unplanned pregnancy include sex before the age of 16, smoking, recent use of drugs other than cannabis, low education levels, depression, and sex education from a “non school based source.”

Worryingly, the survey also revealed that 9.7% of women - almost one in ten – have had sex against their will, and that the average age for this to happen was 18.

The number of men who have been forced into sex is 1%.

It is the first time survey in Britain has looked into the issue of sexual violence as a public health issue, outside the context of crime.

The risk factors for sexual violence with regards to women include area deprivation, young age and binge drinking, whilst for both sexes poor mental and physical health, smoking, use of non-prescription drugs, sex with those of the same gender, a high number of sexual partners, positive STI diagnosis and sexual experience before the age of 16 are all lead to increased risk of sexual violence.

It was found that those who had been forced into non-consensual sex at a younger age were more likely to report it than those who experienced it when older.

Prof Kaye Wellings of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says: “Sexual health is not merely the absence of disease, but the ability to have pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion.”

The survey’s lead author, Wendy Macdowall, also warns that "somebody who has been victimised at a young age is much more likely to be victimised later."

For more information on the study visit the Lancet here.

Articles: 29
Reads: 197154
© 2023 is a website of Studee Limited | 15 The Woolmarket, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2PR, UK | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974