Sex Study Shockers: What the Neighbors Are Doing in Bed
Scientists get paid to study all kinds of weird things. But one lucky group led by Indiana University got to ask nearly 6,000 people between the ages of 14 and 94 some very personal questions about their sex lives, courtesy of a grant from condom maker Trojan.
Indiana scientists found Americans were stretching, bending and grinding into more than 40, but they've been awfully tight lipped about giving us the final list.
Until then, you may have to break out the old Kama Sutra for guidance.
We Like Our Friends - A Lot
Many think of having "friends with benefits" as something that kids do in college, but Indiana University researcher Dr. Debby Herbenick tells CBS News that she was surprised to find that such a large number of people over 30 had their last sexual experience with a buddy.
Overall, the study found that 13 percent of men and 11 percent of women aged 19-59 said their last sexual encounter was with a friend.
What Does Gay Mean?
Seven percent of women and 8 percent of men identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. These numbers are about the same as they were 20 years ago, says Dr. Herbenick, but adds that women are increasingly identifying as bisexual over lesbian.
The study also found that what you do and what you call yourself isn't the same thing.
By the time men reach their 50s, up to 15 percent have had oral sex with another man, says Indiana University researcher Dr. Michael Reece. Women reach that number by their 30s.
Guys Think They're Good
Guys think they make pretty good lovers. In fact, nine out of 10 men reported that their partner had an orgasm during their most recent encounter. What about those partners? Only 64 percent of women said they experienced the big O during their most recent sexual encounter.
Teens: Not So Promiscuous
The sexual appetites of young men are legendary - but what if that's largely legend?
Despite teens' reputation for hooking up, the survey found that for
most, "partnered sexual behaviors" are less important than generally
thought, says Dr. Dennis Fortenberry, who led the adolescent section of
Only 27 percent of 17-year-old boys reported having had sex in the past 90 days.
That's good news for abstinence educators who have been fighting hard to convince teens to hold off on having sex.
Beyond the Missionary
What kind of sex are people having?
Vaginal intercourse still tops the list, but respondents reported having many sexual encounters that did not involve intercourse at all.
"What it means to have sex can vary greatly from one person to the next," said Debra Herbenick, lead author of one of the papers in the study.
Sex feels great, right? Well, not for the 30 percent of women who told researchers that they find sex painful. Researchers were surprised to learn the number is that high.
Condoms for Kids?
Whether you use condoms may rest, in part, on your age and ethnic group.
When it comes to vaginal intercourse, Caucasians reported using them less than African-Americans and Hispanics.
But overall, teens seem to be getting the safe sex message, especially males. Seventy-nine percent of young men between 14 and 17 said they used condoms. That was 21 percentage points higher than than their female counterparts.
People over 40 have the lowest rates of condom use and it declines rapidly with age. Only 5 percent of men over 60 years old are using them.
Older people may be less concerned about pregnancy. They may also be in need of remedial education about sexually transmitted diseases.
Sex Has Several Courses
For many, having sex isn't just about having intercourse. In fact, most sexual encounters include several different activities.
Maybe that's good news for women, who are more likely to climax when the evening's menu features a variety of sexual activities.
Are Americans getting more comfortable with masturbation? It seems women sure are.
According to the research, 72 percent of women 25-29 had masturbated alone in the last year. Those rates dropped as women were younger or older.
Not surprisingly, men at all ages masturbated more frequently than women.
Oral Sex Gap
Women have gained much equality in the last 100 years, but when it comes to oral sex, the genders are still not on a level playing field.
Women in their 30s show the widest gap. Fifty-nine percent said they received oral sex in the last year, while 78 percent of men said they did.
It's not clear if same-sex relationships play a role in those numbers.
The good news: younger generations are far more equal-minded. The largest gap for anyone under 30 was 11 percent and most were closer than that.
Backing it Up
Here's something you might not know about Americans: anal sex is increasingly common amongst heterosexuals and people are trying it at earlier ages.
Twenty-two percent of women in their 30s said they had tried it in the last year. As many as 18 percent had done so by their 19th birthday.
That's important information for health workers, says Dr. Herbenick, because it's easier to spread disease with anal sex and condom use should be encouraged.