How Many Americans Didn’t Have Sex Last Year?

Most people have sex at least once in their lives. For example, in a longitudinal study of over 20,000 American adolescents who were surveyed repeatedly over a 15-year period, just 3% of them reported never having had vaginal, anal, or oral sex at any point. However, just because someone does it once, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will remain sexually active throughout their lives.

For a variety of reasons, many people go through long periods of sexlessness, and a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into just how common this is. This study is the subject of my latest column over at TONIC and it’s based on 14 years of data from the U.S. General Social Survey.

What the authors of this study found is that approximately 1 in 7 men and 1 in 4 women said they didn’t have any sexual partners in the past year. In addition, 1 in 11 men and 1 in 6 women said that they hadn’t had any partners in the past five years. As you can see, some people went for very long stretches of time without being sexually active. However, it’s important to note that “sex” wasn’t defined in this study, so we don’t necessarily know what people were counting when they answered these questions.

With that said, I should highlight that the people who weren’t having sex weren’t any less happy than those who were sexually active. In other words, sexlessness doesn’t necessarily mean being unhappy. When you think about it, there are a few good reasons for this, not the least of which is that some people may be sexless by choice (e.g., asexual persons). Also, just because you’re having sex, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re having good sex (quality is more important than quantity, after all!).

To learn more about the link between sex and happiness, as well as some of the factors associated with sexlessness, check out the full article here.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit ( to receive updates. 

To learn more about this research, see: Kim, J. H., Tam, W. S., & Muennig, P. (2017). Sociodemographic Correlates of Sexlessness Among American Adults and Associations with Self-Reported Happiness Levels: Evidence from the US General Social Survey. Archives of sexual behavior46(8), 2403-2415.

Image Source: 123RF/Anastasia Ivlicheva

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Changes In Americans’ Attitudes Toward And Experiences With Infidelity In The Last Two Decades

Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.

In this study, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed nine waves of data from the U.S. General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey that is conducted most years. In total, they looked at the responses of 13,030 Americans collected between the years 2000 and 2016. Participants were asked about their attitudes toward sex outside of marriage, as well as whether they’d had extramarital sex in the last year and in their entire lifetime (note that only married participants answered the latter questions).

They found that the number of Americans who said that extramarital sex is “always wrong” declined over time, while the number who said it was “wrong only sometimes” increased. While statistically significant, these changes were rather small—we’re only talking changes in the range of 2-4 percentage points.

It’s also worth noting that, at each time period, at least 75% of respondents said that infidelity was “always wrong,” which tells us that most Americans continue to be very disapproving of sex outside of marriage. Only a small number have grown more accepting in recent years.

That said, men and people who had cheated previously were more accepting of infidelity than women and people who hadn’t cheated before; however, the vast majority of persons in all of these groups disapproved of the behavior. So, overall, Americans in general don’t appear to be cool with the idea of cheating.

As for how many people had actually cheated, the lifetime prevalence for married men was 21.4%, whereas for married women it was 13.4%. In addition, 4.1% of married men and 2.0% of married women reported cheating each year on average. This gender difference is consistent with previous research and is often interpreted through an evolutionary lens (specifically, the idea that men are likely to experience more reproductive advantages from having a large number of sexual partners than women).

The annual rate of cheating did not change over time; however, there was a slight decrease in the reported lifetime prevalence of cheating, which declined by about 1.5 percentage points over the 16 years of the study. The authors suggest that one potential explanation for this is the declining marriage rate, which may be producing a selection effect that is reducing the odds of experiencing infidelity—although if that’s the case, it’s not clear why the annual rate of cheating didn’t change significantly as well.

While these findings offer some insight into some of the changes in Americans’ attitudes toward and experiences with infidelity, keep in mind that they’re limited to the context of extramarital sex—plus, the questions didn’t specify what “sex” was, which means people may have intentionally chosen not to count certain activities (e.g., oral sex). Further, the General Social Survey doesn’t distinguish between infidelity and open marriages, so both get lumped together, which means these results might be overestimating the prevalence of infidelity.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post about this study in which we’ll consider the fascinating question of who married Americans are cheating with—is it with people they know or is it with strangers? Also, do men and women cheat with different types of partners? I’ll have the answers next time

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit ( to receive updates. 

To learn more about this research, see: Labrecque, L.T., & Whisman, M.A. (2017). Attitudes toward and prevalence of extramarital sex and descriptions of extramarital partners in the 21st century. Journal of Family Psychology.

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International Women’s Day

Note: Our definition of women is inclusive of trans women and our definition of feminism includes intersectionality, a theory created by Kimberlé Crenshaw.

Today is International Women’s Day. This is a day when we consciously celebrate and honour the achievements of all self-identified women throughout the world. We also take the opportunity to highlight some of the many inequalities women face, recognize the rights and freedoms for which we are still fighting, and stand up for what we believe in.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress:

“With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo#TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

And while we know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. Plus, there’s indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.

So we can’t be complacent. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let’s all Press for Progress.”

How will you Press for Progress? We invite you to consider this today, and every day, and take actions to bring equality and equity for all women.

If you are looking for a specific way to take action, consider making a donation, and please consider Options for Sexual Health. Options for Sexual Health is an organization with deep feminist roots. We celebrate and champion sexual health. Your donation to Opt provides access to services throughout the province of British Columbia and gives people access to much needed sexual health services including access to safe and informative space to make their own sexual health decisions.  To donate to Opt, click here.

Photo is from

The Effects of Partner Presence and Sexual Stimulation on the Appraisal of Vaginal Pressure and Sexual Arousal


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Click here to view the full text on ScienceDirect.

Figure 1

Overview of the experimental condition. After each condition, women report on their subjective sexual arousal, perceived genital arousal, and painful and pleasant vaginal pressure. Men report on their subjective arousal.

Figure 2

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on ratings of pleasant pressure in women at high levels of female relationship satisfaction when watching a sex film.

Figure 3

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on genital arousal responses of women when watching a sex film.

Figure 4

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on genital arousal responses of women who are highly satisfied with their relationship.

Figure 5

Interaction between partner presence and film type on subjective sexual arousal of men and women.

Figure 6

Interaction between sex and pressure induction in women on the subjective sexual arousal responses of men and women.

Figure 7

Interaction between film type and pressure on subjective sexual arousal of men and women.

Figure 8

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on subjective sexual arousal in men and women when the female partner is highly dissatisfied with the relationship.

Figure 9

Interaction between partner presence and pressure on subjective sexual arousal in men and women when the male partner is highly dissatisfied with the relationship.



Sex research lacks experimental studies in which both partners participate in a laboratory procedure. This is relevant in the context of genital pain because painful vaginal sensations often occur in the presence of the partner.


To examine the effects of partner presence, sexual stimulation, and vaginal pressure on the appraisal of vaginal sensations and sexual arousal, ultimately aiming to increase the ecologic validity of laboratory designs.


A community sample of 42 women and their male partners watched sexual and neutral films while separated or together. We induced gradually increasing vaginal pressure in the women using an intravaginal inflatable rubber balloon.


Women reported on pleasant and painful vaginal pressure and perceived genital arousal. Men and women reported on subjective sexual arousal. We also examined whether these appraisals were moderated by relationship satisfaction.


The appraisal of vaginal pressure varied as a function of relationship satisfaction. Less satisfied women reported more painful pressure than women who were highly satisfied and highly satisfied women appraised the pressure as more pleasant in the context of a sex film and in the presence (vs absence) of their partner. In men and women, although partner presence had a negative effect on subjective sexual arousal, the presence of the partner did increase women’s perception of genital arousal when vaginal pressure was induced during a sex film, particularly when women felt highly satisfied with their relationship. Also, the effects on subjective sexual arousal were moderated by relationship satisfaction. For couples in which the woman was less satisfied, the induction of vaginal pressure resulted in higher subjective sexual arousal when the partner was absent compared with when he was present, whereas when the man felt less satisfied, partner presence had a positive effect on sexual arousal.

Clinical Implications

Interventions need to focus on the importance of sexual arousal during vaginal pressure stimulation and the way this is shaped by partner and relationship variables. Our results indicate that enhancing the relationship climate is an important target of intervention.

Strengths and Limitations

We did not include physical indices of genital arousal and did not use a clinical sample of women with genital pain.


The appraisal of vaginal sensations and sexual arousal are context-dependent responses that vary as a function of partner presence and sexual stimulation. Including both partners in the laboratory setting is important to create more valid models on sexual responding.

Dewitte M, Schepers J, Melles R. The Effects of Partner Presence and Sexual Stimulation on the Appraisal of Vaginal Pressure and Sexual Arousal. J Sex Med 2018;15:539–549.

Findings From the Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles

This study was a secondary analysis of the 3rd National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), a prospective stratified probability sample of British individuals 16 to 74 years old interviewed from 2010 to 2012. We assessed for an association between sexual function and the following comorbidities: heart attack, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease, depression, other mental health conditions, other neurologic conditions, obesity, menopause, incontinence, smoking status, and age.

Patterns in Vulvodynia Treatments and 6-Month Outcomes for Women Enrolled in the National Vulvodynia Registry

Of 344 women enrolled, 282 received treatment; 78 different treatments were identified and categorized by type (eg, topical, oral, physical therapy) and number. The most commonly used treatments were topical (85%, n = 241), physical therapy (52%, n = 147), and oral medications (45%, n = 128). Notably, 73% of participants received ≥2 treatments. There was no association between type or number of treatments and patient characteristics. At 6 months, women reported improvements in general pain (P = .001), pain during intercourse (P = .001), catastrophizing (P = .000), and anxiety (P = .000). The Short Form-12 quality-of-life questionnaire showed improvements in physical limitations (P = .024), emotional limitations (P = .003), well-being (P = .025), and social function (P = .010). However, all domains of the Female Sexual Function Index indicated worsening in sexual function (P = .000) except for pain.

Effects of Sex Hormones and Age on Brain Volume in Post-Menopausal Women

Figure 3

Ages in women were negatively correlated with mean gray matter (GM) volume value in the orbitofrontal gyrus, insula, anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG), cerebellar cortex, amygdala, parahippocampal gyrus (PHG), superior frontal gyrus (SFG), hippocampus, pre-central gyrus, inferior temporal gyrus (ITG), putamen, middle temporal gyrus (MTG), and middle frontal gyrus (MFG). Dotted lines show 95% CI. a.u. = arbitrary unit.

The Pregnancy Excuse – Andie Mitchell

As of yesterday, I’m halfway through my pregnancy. It hasn’t been the easiest or most comfortable few months of my life, but I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to have had a normal and uneventful experience thus far. All of the nausea, exhaustion, and the aches and pains of the first trimester feel completely worth it when I think of holding our perfect baby boy at the end of this summer. But as much as I’ve enjoyed carrying our baby, I realize too that I’ve been using my pregnancy as an excuse to give into overeating, caving to dessert multiple times a day, and being pretty sedentary. I find myself justifying every bad habit with, “Why not? I’m pregnant!”—as if it will be easier to get on track once our baby boy arrives.

soft serve

buffalo chicken pizza

Of course, being pregnant isn’t a nine month vacation from discipline and taking care of ourselves. The rational part of me knows that this is the time to eat healthfully and now is the time to work on building productive, sustainable habits that will carry me through baby’s birth. It’s also time to practice self-compassion, I know, without letting the idea of being kind to myself twist into meaning: letting go of my deeper desire to eat well and move my body. I notice that I’m getting a little impatient, telling Daniel, “I wish the baby was here,” once a day. But as long as he is still taking his time growing strong, I’m going to try to use to the next few months to strengthen my discipline and practice healthier and more productive routines.

Has anyone else struggled with this? The fatigue can make it so tough to flex that willpower muscle and to muster the energy to get things done. Do you mothers have any tips or experience that you think could help a first time pregnant lady?

7 Chocolate Treats for Under 200 Calories 12WBT

A little chocolate never hurt anyone! In fact, the occasional treat is a must when you’re striving for balance. Here are seven delicious treats that won’t pack a calorie punch.

Also read: 5 Desserts Under 200 Calories

1. Chocolate-coated strawberries

Serves 2

To get this under 200 calories per serve, take a punnet of fresh strawberries (around 250g) and dip into 50g of melted dark chocolate (just enough to coat each strawberry). Refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Divide between two plates.

2. Yoghurt with chocolate flakes

Serves 1

Take half a cup of low-fat Greek yoghurt and top with two chopped strawberries and 15g of grated dark chocolate (roughly two small squares, or one big Lindt square). If you can, use a fine grater as this will create a dusting that feels plentiful, but keeps you under 200 calories per serve!

3. Chocolate bananas

Serves 1

Cut half a banana into 3 to 4 thick slices, and skewer each slice with a toothpick.

Dip the lower half into 25g melted dark chocolate (minimum 80% cocoa solids). Freeze until the chocolate has hardened.

4. Fruit kebabs

Serves 1

Alternate sliced banana, halved strawberries, melon and watermelon cubes on a large skewer. Place on a large tray, and drizzle with 25g melted dark chocolate. Pop in the fridge until hard.

5. Mini peanut butter cups

Serves 4

Simply take 12 mini paper cases pop a teaspoon of natural, smooth peanut butter into each, then top with a teaspoon of melted dark chocolate. Make sure the peanut butter is smoothed down before you drizzle the chocolate on top.

Place in the freezer until firm. For 200 calories, limit yourself to three. They’re small but very satisfying!

6. Chocolate strawberry ballerinas

Serves 1

Chop three large strawberries in half. Sandwich the halves back together with 1 teaspoon of low-fat ricotta and half a teaspoon of hazelnut spread, such as Nutella.

7. Free 12WBT Recipe: Chocolate Puddings


Serves 2


  • 1g olive oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder (6g)
  • 20g fresh dates, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons margarine (15g)
  • 15g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cage free eggs (59g), lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoons plain flour (3g)


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray two 1/3 cup capacity shallow ramekins with oil. Use half the cocoa powder to dust insides of the ramekins. Shake out any excess.
  2. Combine dates and 2 tablespoons boiling water in a small heatproof bowl. Add margarine and chocolate. Microwave on high for 40 seconds. Stir until chocolate and margarine have melted. Cool slightly.
  3. Stir in egg, mixing well. Stir in combined sifted flour and remaining cocoa. Stir until smooth. Spoon mixture into prepared ramekins, and place into a small baking dish. Pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to come halfway up the sides.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes. The mixture should be just cooked on top but still feel a little squidgy in the centre. Remove from the dish and stand for 2 minutes. Serve dusted with a tiny amount of cocoa if you like.

5 Weekday Dinner Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less 12WBT

If we’re being completely honest, who is thrilled about cooking a big, complicated dinner on a weeknight? Between work, social and family commitments, there’s very little mental and physical time for cooking.

While for some cooking is a relaxation and joy, for a lot of people it can be chore. The trick is to make it as pain-free as possible while still avoiding unhealthy takeaway traps (here’s looking at you, pizza!).

Here are five delicious dinner ideas that use five ingredients or less, so you’re not spending too long in the kitchen.

5-Ingredient Roast Dinner

Cut 1-2 chicken breasts into large pieces and pop in an oven tray with large chunks of sweet potato and pumpkin. Add 1-2 tsp olive oil to coat then pop into a pre-heated 180° oven for 30 minutes.

Pull tray out and add one bunch of broccoli, chopped into florets. Add a little extra olive oil and season with salt and pepper, baking for another 10 minutes. Done like a dinner!

Also read: 9 ‘Healthy’ Fridge Items You Should Ditch Immediately

Easy Egg Salad

Pop a few eggs into boiling water and cook for 6-7 minutes. Drain water and rinse with cold water to cool eggs. Peel shell from eggs, rinse and drain a can of corn. Throw the corn and boiled eggs into a bowl with mixed greens and avocado.

Drizzle with 1-2 tsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Mexican Bowl

Spray a small saucepan with olive oil over medium heat. Dice ½ red capsicum and add to pan, stirring often. Once capsicum starts to soften, add Mexican seasoning, stirring for 1 minute.

Rinse and drain red kidney beans and add to pan with canned diced tomatoes. Turn down heat and cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Serve with a good chunk of avocado.

Fully Loaded Frittata

Chop 1-2 small potatoes into 2cm chucks and pop into a saucepan of boiling water. Cook until you can easily poke a fork into them. Drain water and leave to cool.

Wisk a couple of eggs in a bowl. Spray a medium frypan over medium heat with olive oil. Slice up a zucchini and add to pan, along with frozen peas, stirring regularly.

When almost cooked, add in potato, spreading vegetables evenly in the pan. Add eggs and turn down the heat slightly.

Add a sprinkle of your fave cheese, leaving on the heat until egg is cooked through. Serve it up and enjoy!

Fast Fried Rice

Spray a medium frypan over medium heat with olive oil. Add tofu, leftover cooked rice and mixed frozen veggies (corn, peas and carrots will work well), stirring often.

Once tofu starts to brown, add a splash of soy sauce or kecap manis, stirring for a further 1-2 minutes. Serve it up and top with chopped fresh red chilli for a bit of a kick!

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