Study: everyone wants to have more sex

Everyone in America over the age of 18 wants to be having more sex than they are currently having, according to a new survey out this week. OK, not everyone. Actually, that was a totally misleading headline, because a surprising number of Americans are satisfied with the amount of sex they’re having. The Trojan US Sex Census found that 71% of men and 55% of women would like to have sex more often than they do. Which contradicts the widely held cultural view that men always want more sex and women don’t. Almost half of American women want to be having more sex than they currently are, and almost a third of men are happy with what they’re getting.

In a region-by-region breakdown, the researchers found that respondents in the Northeast are having the most sex (2.5 times per week), followed by those in the Midwest (2.4 times), the West (2.3 times), and finally, the South (trailing at 2.1 times per week). Northeasterners are most likely to practice safe sex – 43% of them report using a condom during sexual activity.

As for quality, which many people would argue is more important than quantity, married people are more likely than single people to say that sex is satisfactory – 82% of married people report being satisfied, compared to 71% of single people.
When it comes to sex and technology (something that’s been on our minds lately thanks to a certain congressman),

19% of Americans have engaged in sexting
19% have had online sex
18% have had sex with someone they met over the internet
10% have discussed sex on Facebook and/or Twitter

Some other findings:

Men are more likely to be in favour of hooking up (40%) than women (22%), though that doesn’t tell us if that means they’d do it themselves, or if they’re just cool with other people doing it. And to further complicate that finding, we still cannot agree on what “hooking up” actually means, with more than 70% of respondents saying it means “having sex with someone outside of a relationship.” And, though the survey doesn’t mention this, there’s still the question of what counts as sex. Is it anything that can necessitate the use of a condom? Where do lesbians and gay men fit in this survey? Are we just defining “sex” as penis-in-vagina? This survey leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and makes a few assumptions that I’m not entirely comfortable with.

And of course, these kinds of surveys have methodological limitations, the most obvious being that any time you ask people to self-report, there’s the chance that they won’t be totally honest. When it comes to sex, that chance is pretty high. Secondly, there’s good reason to be skeptical of a sex survey that’s underwritten by a condom company. But, it seems to be endorsed by the folks at Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, who do great research, so while I’m inclined to take these findings with a grain of salt, I trust that endorsement. Finally, while the survey is nationally representative based on US Census data, the sample size was a relatively small 3000. And given the enormous range and variety of human sexual experience and expression, while it can sometimes be useful to generalize based on data like these, it’s important to remember that when it comes to sex, every single person is different and unique, and special like a sexy, sexy snowflake.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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