Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, February 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 26° Partly Cloudy
News >  Health

Americans having less sex, new study finds

UPDATED: Tue., March 7, 2017, 6:34 p.m.


SAN DIEGO – Americans have been saying more often: Honey, not tonight.

And that has been especially true for married couples and older adults, according to new study out of San Diego State University.

In the analysis by psychology professor Jean Twenge, people in the United States on average had sex about nine fewer times per year from 2010-14 than they did during the peak period of 1995-99, according to the nation’s leading survey of Americans’ behaviors and attitudes.

The survey reported that since 1999, there has been an accelerating decline in sexual activity that culminated with the largest drop between 2010 and 2014, the most recent period of data available.

Americans 50 to 59 showed the largest decrease in sex; the rate for that group fell by more than 10 instances of intercourse per year during the comparison time period.

Another demographic that had a notable drop: married couples. Their sexual activity decreased by 10.89 instances per year, compared with 6.6 for the never married.

In terms of education levels, Americans with a high school degree and their college-educated counterparts both experienced declines in sexual activity. But the college-educated category had a bigger drop: 14.9 fewer instances each year versus 6.8 for the other group.

And as for gender: The decline in sex was about evenly split among men and women.

The data was collected by the annual General Social Survey, a nationally representative poll of more than 26,000 Americans conducted since 1989. Among the questions asked every year is this one: “About how often did you have sex during the last 12 months?”

While such a query might seem to make people a little uncomfortable, especially when asked over the phone by a stranger, the vast majority of respondents disclosed their level of sexual activity. On average, only 5.7 percent of respondents have refused to answer that question over the decades.

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email

You have been successfully subscribed!