Take a minute to think about when you had sex for the first time, how much sex you have, and whether you think other people are doing it more or less than you. If this thought experiment makes you feel embarrassed about how much or how little you’re doing it, relax. Chances are, you’re more normal than you think.
First of all, before you start to feel self-conscious, however much sex you have is fine. We’re not here to judge. And to the young folks reading this: You’re not a bad person if you’ve done it already, and you’re not a prude or somehow cursed if you keep your pants on until another stage in your life. We’re about to see that there’s a huge range in what’s normal.
According to a survey, the General Social Survey, there’s no overwhelmingly “normal” amount of sex to have on a regular basis. Here’s the breakdown, as percentages of people who answered the question with a number (leaving off those who didn’t answer or weren’t sure):
- No sex in the past year: 16%
- Once a month: 19%
- Two to three times a month: 23%
- Once a week: 19%
- Two to three times a week: 18%
- More than three times a week: 6%
Frequency of sex changes over a person’s lifetime. Teenagers and young adults aren’t all having sex, but once they reach their twenties and thirties, they do it plenty.
Despite a lot of buzz about “hookup culture,” young people in 2004-2012 didn’t have any more sex than their counterparts in 1988-1996. They were, however, less likely to be in a steady relationship with the people they slept with.
In old age, people have less sex. Some of this is because older people lose their partners and don’t necessarily start dating again. But being in poor health, or on certain medications, can also make people less interested in sex.
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Article By Beth Skwarecki. Illustration by Jim Cooke.