Americans in relationships have sex less often, study finds

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SAN DIEGO — Americans who were married or living together had sex 16 fewer times per year in 2010-14 compared to a similar period in the previous decade, according to a San Diego State University study published Tuesday.

Couples in 2010-14 had sex 16 less times a year than those in 2000-04, while Americans overall engaged in such activity nine times a year less than those in 1995-99, according to the study, which was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The study is based on data collected from the General Social Survey, a nationally representative sample of more than 26,000 American adults asked about their sexual behavior since 1989.

“These data show a major reversal from previous decades in terms of marriage and sex,” said Jean Twenge, an SDSU professor of psychology who led the study. “In the 1990s, married people had sex more times per year than never-married people, but by the mid-2000s that reversed, with the never- married having more sex.”

The professor said age appears to play a key role. First, a previous study found that more recent generations of Americans are having less sex than those born earlier in the 20th century.

“Despite their reputation for hooking up,  millennials and the generation after them — known as iGen or Generation Z — are actually having sex less often than their parents and grandparents did when they were young,” Twenge said. “That’s partially because fewer iGen’ers and millennials have steady partners.”

Also, as people get older, their rate of sexual activity drops.

Twenge said the data showed people in their 20s have sex more than 80 times per year, declining to 60 times per year by age 45 and 20 times per year by age 65. Each year after the peak of sexual frequency at 25, sexual activity declines 3.2 percent.

“Older and married people are having sex less often — especially after 2000,” Twenge said.

“In a previous paper, we found that the happiness of adults over age 30 declined between 2000 and 2014,” she said. “With less sex and less happiness, it’s no wonder that American adults seem deeply dissatisfied these days.”

She said the busy lives of working parents actually didn’t play a role. Those who worked more hours actually had sex more often, according to the professor.