Why Are We Having Less Sex?

Sex is important. Not because its fun but to put it mildly, it keeps us going. The past few years have revealed trends that should cause concern. The #MeToo movement has been an incredibly publicised movement which has changed perceptions of sexual assault victims. Discrediting the notion that some women were asking for it or that accusing someone of sexual assault is a way to advance your career or to punish someone.

Perhaps less well known is the parallel development that has been occurring among the millennial generation, that we as a generation seem to be having less sex. A surprising trend considering the increasing availability of porn and a world that has become more sexually liberated over time. However is this just a US/UK thing? Both of these distinct, separate trends are happening across the globe.

To clarify, a decline in sexual activity is happening across middle-high income countries. Ireland does not have enough data which can be plotted on a timeline in a consistent way. There are snapshots such as a survey done by The Irish Times and The Shag Report from NUI Galway.

Other countries however such as Germany have seen men’s sexual activity decline according to a paper published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. German men were surveyed from 2005 to 2016 and reported that sexual activity has decreased for them. The paper charts a fall of sexual activity from 81% in 2005 to 73% in 2016 and a lack of sexual desire rose from 8% to 13%.

In Japan the phenomena of the decline in young sexual activity has a name. Sekkusu-banare translates as “drifting away from sex”. A 2017 survey by the Japanese Association for Sex Education found that 37% of female university students had had sexual intercourse. This is down from a 2005 peak of 62.2%.

Australia is also on the bandwagon with this article from The Conversation citing a national survey denoting a decline in 2013 from its previous sex survey of 2003. The United States of America has one of the most tracked populations when it comes to sexual activity. The General Social Survey has traced a decrease since the late 80s of people having sex. Driven by young people between the ages of 18-30.

On a more positive development, people who have been victims of sexual crimes seem to be increasing the amount that report their incidents to the police. A common caveat when looking at the statistics of sexual crime is that you are only seeing what has been reported. Theirs a stigma to reporting this type of crime because of the shame surrounding it or the belief that their incident will not be taken seriously.

The Central Statistics Office in Ireland states that reporting of sexual crime in Q1, Q2 and Q3 2019 all increased by between 5% and 10% when compared to 2018s respective quarters. The South African police service in 2018 has seen its number of sexual offences increase (this past decade has seen a decline, however). The FBI in the US has seen an increase in the amount of sexual offences being reported in their 2019 stats versus their 2016 findings.

With these two significant developments what does it mean for the future of sex in our society? Listen to “What Is Happening to Sex?” from Overinformed to find out. 

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash