A study published earlier this year in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that Americans were having sex less often during in the modern age. According to the researchers, the average American during the late ’90s was having sex 62 times a year compared to 53 times a year during the early 2010s.
We should point out that the researchers’ data set came from the General Social Survey, an ongoing survey of American behaviors and attitudes that has been going on since 1972. Also, the researchers’s abstract didn’t parse out the data for gay and bisexual people, so their findings are likely predominantly heterosexual.
Cross-cultural research in Britain, Australia and Japan indicates that lower sex drives are part of a recent international trend, but what’s to blame? The BBC says that most folks usually blame porn or mobile technologies, the idea being that most people are too busy masturbating or playing Candy Crush to have sex.
The BBC links to several studies that suggest that regular exposure to porn and mobile technology make people disinterested in sex, but some opposing studies also say that regular exposure to porn can actually make you crave sex more and that mobile technology, like hook-up apps, increase one’s sexual encounters.
The decline in sex might actually come from a population-wide increase in stress caused by longer working hours — “the average full-time employee in the US works 47 hours per week,” according to the BBC. The more you have to work (or have work on the brain), the less sexual you’ll feel.
A fourth possibility is that the terrible state of the world — “job and housing insecurity, the fear of climate change, and the destruction of communal spaces and social life” — has made everyone too depressed to have sex.
But yet again, all of this applies mostly to heterosexuals. While we don’t have data on whether gay and bi people are having more sex now than they were 10 years ago, the advent of pre-exposure prophylactics (PrEP), medications that help reduce HIV transmissions by up to 99%, have put gay and bi men in a sort of “birth-control moment,” a sexual revolution that might actually encourage them to have more sex.
(Featured image by AvailableLight via iStock Photography)