Socioeconomic, Anthropomorphic, and Demographic Predictors of Adult Sexual Activity in the United States

Content Written By: Michael L. Eisenberg, MD, Alan W. Shindel, MD, James F. Smith, MD, MS, Benjamin N. Breyer, MD, and Larry I. Lipshultz, MD, MS


Introduction. Individuals who engage in regular sexual intercourse are more likely to report good overall quality of life. Studies of sexuality in adolescents have focused on high-risk behaviors whereas similar studies in older adults have focused on sexual dysfunction. Given a paucity of data on the sexual behaviors of young adults and the possibility of important relationships between sexuality and overall health, we sought to determine factors that influence the frequency of intercourse in adult men and women in the United States.

Aim. To identify factors related to coital frequency in young and middle-aged adults.

Methods. We analyzed data from the male and female sample of the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth to examine frequency of sexual intercourse among Americans aged 25–45 years (men: N = 2,469; women: N = 5,120).

Main Outcome Measures. Multivariable negative binomial regression modeling was used to test for independent associations between the frequency of sexual intercourse and demographic, socioeconomic, and anthropometric variables.

Results. In this study, men and women between the ages of 25 and 45 have sex a mean 5.7 and 6.4 times per month, respectively. Being married significantly increased coital frequency for women but has no effect on male coital frequency. Increased height, less than high school education, and younger age were predictive of increased sexual frequency in men. Pregnancy was associated with significantly lower coital frequency for both men and women. No association was shown between self-reported health status and coital frequency on multivariable analysis.

Conclusions. Among young male adults, coital frequency is associated with specific socioeconomic, demographic, and anthropomorphic characteristics. Sexual frequency in women does not appear to be influenced by such factors. Self-reported health is not predictive of sexual activity in this age group. Eisenberg M, Shindel AW, Smith JF, Breyer BN, and Lipshultz LI. Socioeconomic, anthropomorphic, and demographic predictors of adult sexual activity in the United States: Data from the national survey of family growth. J Sex Med 2010;7:50–58.

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