According to a study published on Friday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, young Americans are having less sex, most likely due to stress and a trend of taking longer to grow up.
The study, conducted by San Diego State University (SDSU) researchers, examined levels of sexual activity among young Americans between 2000 and 2018. They looked at responses to a survey by more than 4,000 men and 5,000 women regarding sexual behavior patterns such as sexual frequency and the number of sexual partners.
The authors of the study, Peter Ueda, Catherine H. Mercer and Cyrus Ghaznavi, noted an increase in sexual inactivity during the study period among men aged 18 to 34 and women aged 25 to 34, with the increase among men mainly occurring among unmarried individuals. In particular, the percentage of men aged 18 to 24 reporting no sexual activity in the last year jumped from 18.9% in 2000-2002 to 30.9% in 2016-2018.
In a commentary on the report, Jean M. Twenge, a professor in SDSU’s Department of Psychology who was not an author of the study, wrote: "First, adolescents and young adults are taking longer to grow to adulthood. This includes the postponement of not just sexual activity but also other activities related to mating and reproduction, including dating, living with a partner, pregnancy, and birth.”
"However, these reproductive trends have not occurred in isolation; instead, they are part of a broader cultural trend toward delayed development. For example, adolescents in the 2010s were also less likely to drive, drink alcohol, go out without their parents, and work at paid jobs compared with adolescents in previous decades,” Twenge stated.
"Between the 24-hour availability of entertainment and the temptation to use smartphones and social media, sexual activity may not be as attractive as it once was," Twenge added. "Put simply, there are now many more choices of things to do in the late evening than there once were and fewer opportunities to initiate sexual activity if both partners are engrossed in social media, electronic gaming, or binge-watching."