New survey on sex in US, biggest since 1994

2010-10-04 11:54

The male-female orgasm gap. The sex lives of 14-year-olds. An intriguing breakdown of condom usage rates, by age and ethnicity, with teens emerging as more safe-sex-conscious than boomers.

That’s just a tiny sampling of the data being unveiled today in what the researchers say is the largest, most comprehensive national survey of Americans’ sexual behaviour since 1994.

In all, 5?865 people, ranging in age from 14 to 94, participated in the survey that has been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The researchers, from Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion, said they were struck by the variety of ways in which the subjects engaged in sex – 41 different combinations of sexual acts were tallied, encompassing vaginal and anal intercourse, oral sex, and partnered masturbation.

Men are more likely to experience orgasm when vaginal intercourse is involved, while women are more likely to reach orgasm when they engage in variety of acts, including oral sex, said researcher Debra Herbenick.

She noted there was a gap in perceptions – 85% of the men said their latest sexual partner had an orgasm, while only 64% of the women reported having an orgasm in their most recent sexual event.

One-third of women experienced genital pain during their most recent sex, compared to 5% of men, said Herbenick, citing this as an area warranting
further study.

The study, which began taking shape in 2007, was funded by Church & Dwight Co., the manufacturer of Trojan condoms.

Among the findings was a high rate of condom usage among 14- to 17-year-olds. Of the surveyed boys who had sexual intercourse, 79% reported using a condom on the most recent occasion, compared to 25% for all the men in the survey.

However, the sample for that particular question involved only 57 teens in the 14-to-17 age range. That’s far smaller than the thousands involved in latest federal Youth Risk Behaviour Survey last year which calculated condom use among sexually active high school students at 61%.

The researchers nonetheless found the new findings encouraging.

“Condoms have become normative.” they said.

The lowest condom usage rates were for men over 50 – and the researchers said this was worrisome, raising the risk for disease since an increasing number of older adults had multiple sexual partners.

Other notable findings:

  • ?While about 7% of adult women and 8% of men identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the proportion of individuals who have had same-gender sex at some point in their lives is higher. For example, 15% of the men aged 50-59 said they had received oral sex from another man at some point.
  • Among adolescent boys, only about 2% of the 14-year-olds – but 40% of the 17-year-olds – said they had engaged in sexual intercourse in the past year.

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