Sex in America FAQ

posted: 10/29/12

Sex in America FAQ

Q: How many people were interviewed for the Indiana University National Survey on Sexual Health and Behavior?

A: The survey -- the largest ever of American sexuality -- included 5,000 people and asked hundreds of questions.

Q: When was the last exhaustive sex survey done in America?

A: Alfred Kinsey's survey was the last such large-scale effort. It was conducted more than 60 years ago.

Q: How many people were interviewed by Kinsey and his team?

A: Kinsey and his team conducted thousands of interviews with Americans about sex, over the course of 10 years.

Q: In the Kinsey survey, what percentage of women at the time of marriage had never achieved orgasm?

A: The Kinsey survey some 60 years ago found that 36 percent of women had not achieved an orgasm by the time of marriage.

Q: What is the "orgasm gap"?

A: The National Survey found that 85 percent of men said their partner had an orgasm when they had sex. But only about 64 percent of women said they had an orgasm when they had sex. The difference came to be known as the "orgasm gap."

Q: Are there ways for women to maximize their chance of having an orgasm?

A: In the National Survey, women reporting a single sex act had an orgasm just 55 percent of the time. Women reporting three types of sex act had an orgasm 78 percent of the time. And women reporting five sex acts in their last encounter had an orgasm 89 percent of the time. This suggests that variety in a woman's sex life increases her chances of having an orgasm.

Q: In the original Kinsey study, how many couples had sex exclusively in the missionary position?

A: The Kinsey survey six decades ago reported that up to 70 percent of couples had sex exclusively in the missionary position.

Q: How many different combinations of sexual behavior were discovered in the National Survey?

A: The National Survey recorded 41 different combinations of sexual behaviors.

Q: How many men and women typically engage in five or more sexual behaviors in a sex act?

A: The National Survey showed that only one in 40 men engaged in five or more sex acts in the last encounter, and only one in 200 women reported five or more sex acts in a single encounter.

Q: What event in history separated sex from procreation and turned it into recreation?

A: The invention of the birth control pill in 1960 had an enormous impact on sexual behavior.

Q: What book's publication ushered in a landmark change in American attitudes toward sex?

A: The 1972 publication of The Joy of Sex supplied frank illustration and offered candid advice about sex, encouraging many people to try activities they had never heard of before.

Q: How was homosexuality regarded during the time of the Kinsey report?

A: When the Kinsey report was published, homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness, and would continue to be for 20 years.

Q: What was the homosexuality rate in the time of the Kinsey report?

A: Kinsey found 8 percent of males aged 16-55 reported themselves as exclusively homosexual.

Q: What percentage of adult males identify as homosexual today?

A: The National Survey reports that 4.2 percent of adult males identify as homosexual.

Q: How many women identify as lesbian today?

A: The National Survey reports that 1.8 percent of women identify as lesbian.

Q: According to the National Survey, where do we stand on safe sex today?

A: Contrary to what many people might think, the survey suggests that the younger a person is, the more likely he or she is to practice safe sex; boys under 18 use a condom 79 percent of the time and girls under 18 use one 58 percent of the time, while the overall rate for all respondents was about 20 percent.

Q: Who has sex the most often?

A: The National Survey found that the groups who have sex most often are married people between the ages of 18 and 24. Twenty-one percent of men in this group and 24 percent of women report having sex more than four times a week.

Q: What did the National Survey learn about men and transactional partners (people they had either paid for sex or given something to in order to have sex)?

A: The survey found that 4 percent of men, across age groups, had had a transactional partner at their most recent event. That number compared to less than 1 percent for women.

Q: Do men and women in their 70s still have sex?

A: In the survey, more than 50 percent of both men and women in their 70s reported having had no sex in the past year.

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