Sexual activity appears to be on the decline among Americans

Americans are having less sex than they did 25 years ago, with the sharpest decline being seen among married people, according to research published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.

social media in bed couple

The study showed that the decline has occurred regardless of people’s gender, race, work or marriage status, education level and living region.

After examining data taken from the General Social Survey for the years 1989 to 2014, the study found that American adults were having sex seven to nine fewer times each year in 2014 than they were in the 1990s. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Americans had sex an average of 60 to 62 times per year, after which the frequency began to fall. By 2014, that figure had dropped to less than 53 times per year.

The decline was particularly sharp among married couples, with the frequency of sex among this group having dropped from around 73 times per year in 1990 to around 55 times in 2014 – a lower rate than among people who had never been married (59 times per year).

The study also found that a higher percentage of Americans today are not in a couple. In 2014, only 59% of people were living with a partner, compared with 66% in 1986. Unpartnered people tend to have sex half as frequently as people who are in couples, says the study.

The authors did not state what is causing the decline. However, they did suggest that possible drivers were cultural changes such as increased access to social media sites and other entertainment such as video games and Netflix.

The study found that adults who had grown up surrounded by increasingly available portable technology, as well as millenials and Generation Z, are having less sex than those from any generation before them.

Lead author of the paper Jean Twenge (San Diego State University) says: “People aren’t looking around saying, ‘Hey, it’s 10 o’clock, what are we going to do?’”

Sociology professor, Pepper Schwartz (University of Washington) thinks that one major driver of the decline has been the increasing need for both partners in a couple to earn an income: “You have many more women and men working to create a two-income family to stay middle class or above… People’s minds are occupied with things other than the physical connection, and that has increased in modern life, and especially from the ’80s and ’90s and forward.”

To maintain a sex life, what you need is energy, focus and time.

“If I’ve just run a marathon, is the first thing I want to do have sex? Probably not.”

Sociology professor, Pepper Schwartz.

Sally Robertson

Written by

Sally Robertson

Sally has a Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Sciences (B.Sc.). She is a specialist in reviewing and summarising the latest findings across all areas of medicine covered in major, high-impact, world-leading international medical journals, international press conferences and bulletins from governmental agencies and regulatory bodies. At News-Medical, Sally generates daily news features, life science articles and interview coverage.


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