U.S. adults having less sex, study finds

Sexual activity has dropped among 25-to-34-year-old U.S. men and women in the last two decades, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers examined results of a survey conducted from 2000 to 2018 that polled U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 44 years. The study assessed sexual frequency in the last year and number of sexual partners in the last year.

The study population included 4,291 men and 5,213 women in the analysis of sexual frequency, and 4,372 men and 5,377 women in the analysis of number of sexual partners.

Overall, most men and women reported having had weekly or more sexual activity and one sexual partner in the last year.

But, in the periods between 2000 and 2002 and 2016 and 2018, the proportion of men and women, ages 25 to 34 years, who reported no sex in the last year increased. Among men, the proportion increased from 7 percent to 14.1 percent; among women, it increased from 7 percent to 12.6 percent.

The proportion of 18-to 24-year-olds who reported having had no sexual activity in the last year increased among men — from 18.9 percent between 2000 and 2002 to 30.9 percent between 2016 and 2018 — but not among women.

In a commentary accompanying the study, researchers said that there are two possible reasons for the drop in sexual activity. One is that adolescents and young adults are taking longer to grow into adulthood, which includes postponing sex and other activities related to mating and reproduction, including dating, living with a partner, pregnancy and birth.

The second reason could be the growth of the internet and digital media, researchers said. The availability of entertainment 24/7 and temptation to use smartphones and social media may result in sexual activity not being as attractive as it once was, researchers said.

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