People Have Been Having Less Sex

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: Human sexual activity affects cognitive function, health, happiness and overall quality of life -- and, yes, there is also the matter of reproduction. The huge range of benefits is one reason researchers have become alarmed at declines in sexual activity around the world, from Japan to Europe to Australia. A recent study evaluating what is happening in the U.S. has added to the pile of evidence, showing declines from 2009 to 2018 in all forms of partnered sexual activity, including penile-vaginal intercourse, anal sex and partnered masturbation. The findings show that adolescents report less solo masturbation as well. The decreases "aren't trivial," as the authors wrote in the study, published on November 19 in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Between 2009 and 2018, the proportion of adolescents reporting no sexual activity, either alone or with partners, rose from 28.8 percent to 44.2 percent among young men and from 49.5 percent in 2009 to 74 percent among young women. The researchers obtained the self-reported information from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior and used responses from 4,155 people in 2009 and 4,547 people in 2018. These respondents to the confidential survey ranged in age from 14 to 49 years. The study itself did not probe the reasons for this trend. Scientific American spoke with the study's authors, Debby Herbenick and Tsung-chieh (Jane) Fu, about underlying factors that might explain these changes. Among the young, the researchers say social media, gaming and "rough sex" may contribute to this trend. The grief, health challenges, job loss and financial strain of the pandemic can all influence sexual interest and sex drive, too.

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