NEW YORK — The male-female orgasm
gap. The sex lives of 14-year-olds. An intriguing breakdown of condom usage
rates, by age and ethnicity, with teens emerging as more safe-sex-conscious
That’s just a tiny sampling of the
data being unveiled in what the researchers say is the largest, most
comprehensive national survey of Americans’ sexual behaviour since 1994.
Filling 130 pages of a special
issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the study offers detailed findings on
how often Americans have sex, with whom, and how they respond. In all, 5,865
people, ranging in age from 14 to 94, participated in the survey.
The lead researchers, from Indiana
University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion, said the study fills a void
that has grown since the last comparable endeavour — the National Health and
Social Life Survey — was published 16 years ago.
The researchers said they were
struck by the variety of ways in which the subjects engaged in sex — 41
different combinations of sexual acts were tallied, encompassing vaginal and
anal intercourse, oral sex, and partnered masturbation.
Men are more likely to experience
orgasm when vaginal intercourse is involved, while women are
more likely to reach orgasm when they engage in variety of acts,
including oral sex, said researcher Debra Herbenick, lead author of the section
about women’s sex lives.
She noted there was a gap in perceptions
— 85 per cent of the men said their latest sexual partner had an orgasm, while
only 64 per cent of the women reported having an orgasm in their most recent
One-third of women experienced
genital pain during their most recent sex, compared to 5 per cent of men, said
Herbenick, citing this as an area warranting further study.
Among the findings was a high rate
of condom usage among 14- to 17-year-olds. Of the surveyed boys who had sexual
intercourse, 79 per cent reported using a condom on the most recent occasion,
compared to 25 per cent for all the men in the survey.