New research in PLOS One reveals what types of sexual behaviors Americans find appealing, with romance and affection topping the list.
The confidential survey, called the 2015 Sexual Exploration in America study, focused on a wide range of sexual behaviors, many of which have not been included in previous studies, at least not in the United States.
A total of 2,021 American adults – 975 men and 1,046 women – responded to the survey. They ranged in age from 18 to 91, with an average age of 47 years.
The participants answered online questions about their relationship structure, sexual orientation, and sexual behaviors. They noted whether they had participated in 32 specific behaviors and rated 50 behaviors on their appeal.
Almost 78% of the participants in relationships considered themselves to be entirely monogamous. Twelve percent were in monogamous but sexless relationships. Two and a half percent were in open relationships.
About 91% identified as heterosexual, 3% were bisexual, and 4% were gay or lesbian. The rest identified as asexual or “other.”
Masturbation was common, with 64% of the men and 41% of the women reporting masturbation during the previous month. The most common partnered behaviors for both men and women were vaginal intercourse, giving/receiving oral sex, and partnered masturbation.
Compared to women, men were more likely to have visited strip clubs, participated in a threesome, had group sex, used a sex-related phone app, and looked at sexually explicit magazines or videos. More women than men had worn lingerie for a partner or used a vibrator or dildo.
Romance and affectionate behaviors were among the most appealing for both men and women, the researchers said.
“These included kissing more often during sex, cuddling, saying sweet/romantic things during sex, making the room feel romantic in preparation for sex, and so on,” explained lead author Debby Herbenick of the Indiana University of Public Health in a statement.
She added, “These data highlight opportunities for couples to talk more openly with one another about their sexual desires and interests. Together they may find new ways of being romantic or sexual with one another, enhancing both their sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness.”
The authors acknowledged that given the scope of the study, some behaviors, such as “rough sex” or saying “dirty” things could be interpreted differently by respondents. What might be considered “rough” or “dirty” by one person may not be perceived that way by another.
They also noted that the survey reflected the experiences of American respondents and that the findings would not necessarily apply in other parts of the world.
Still, the survey could help healthcare providers who treat sexual health issues.
“Clinicians in various settings working with adults in the U.S. can better meet the needs of their clients by being more aware of the diversity of sexual practices across the lifespan,” the authors wrote.
Indiana University School of Public Health – Bloomington
“Faculty members’ paper on sexual diversity published today”
(July 20, 2017)
Herbenick, Debby, et al.
“Sexual diversity in the United States: Results from a nationally representative probability sample of adult women and men”
(July 20, 2017)