Frequency of Intimate Encounters among American Couples Declines

Couples had 16 times more sex per year in 2000-2004 than in 2010-2014

Couples had 16 times more sex per year in 2000-2004 than in 2010-2014

"Not tonight" seems to be an increasingly familiar refrain in America's bedrooms, according to a new study that found people are having less sex than they previously did. "It is very possible that for young people this is a conscious life choice", said Ryne Sherman, co-author of the study from Florida Atlantic University, pointing out that millennials might be choosing to spend their time in other pursuits or could simply be more empowered in their sex lives.

The 159 married couples of diverse work background were included in the study.

It's not how much sex you're having, insists Dr Harry Fisch, but whether you and your partner are happy with the sex you are having. All Americans responding to the survey had sex almost nine fewer times (dropping from 60 to 62 times each year from 1995 to 1999 to less than 53 times between 2010 and 2014, notes The Washington Post). Americans in their 20s had sex about 80 times a year, compared with people in their 60s having sex about 20 times a year.

They published their findings Wednesday in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Twenge previous research has shown that millennials are also having sex far less often than before.

The study, lead by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at the university, examined data from the General Social Survey which polled a nationally representative sample of 26,000 Americans starting in 1989.

When looking only at married people, the drop was even sharper - from around 73 times a year in 1990 to around 55 in 2014 - bringing their frequency of sexual activity below that of never-married people. The drop in sexual activity was the lowest it had been in the country within the last four decades and spanned across all races, religions, educational levels, economic statuses and genders. Based on their current rate, they are likely to have had 8 partners by the time they reach 45.

As more people put off parenthood until later, the combination of middle age and childrearing may create a "perfect storm" of sexual infrequency, the study said.

With all the decline in sexual frequency across the board, one age group has refused to give in and reveals that they are not interested in slowing down.

People were asked to answer with a number between zero and six, with zero meaning never and six meaning more than three times per week. If sex is your main metric for happiness, then this data does seem to show increasingly miserable millennials, but the decline was about the same in the 30 to 39 year old and 50 to 59 year old age groups.

The decline appears to be driven by generational differences. "If that's the case, this decline is actually bigger than what we found". On the other hand, those who are coupled up are having less sex as well.

One of the factors for this decline is the increase in the percentage of unpartnered people, who tend to have less sex than partnered ones.

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