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Not Having Sex? You’re Far From Alone

Not Having Sex? You’re Far From AloneTwenty-three percent of Americans had no sex at all in the past year, according to a recent Washington Postreport.

This percentage is the highest in 30 years, a 4% increase from 1989, thePost said.

The data comes from the General Social Survey (GSS), a project conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Younger people in particular seem to be having less sex. In 18- to 29-year-olds, the percentage of people not having sex rose from 14% in 1989 to 23% in 2018.

The change was most dramatic for men aged 18 to 30. In 1989, roughly 15% of men reported having no sex during the previous year. In 2018, the rate was 28%. (The 2018 rate for women in that age group was 18%.)

What’s behind “the Great American Sex Drought”? It’s hard to say, exactly, but the Post offered some explanations:

  • People are aging. While many people enjoy sex well into their golden years, others struggle with sexual dysfunction and health conditions that can make sex difficult, like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Also, older people don’t always have partners.
  • Younger people aren’t always pairing off. Many people spend their twenties working on their careers and don’t marry or commit to long term relationships until they’re older.
  • Technology gets in the way. Emails, texts, videos, games, and other forms of electronic networking and entertainment can be distracting, taking couples’ minds off of sex and intimacy. (This 2014 blog post explains these trends more.)

The recent survey results aren’t the first time scientists have found reduced sexual frequency. In 2017, a study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported on GSS survey results from 2010 to 2014. During that time, Americans had sex nine fewer times annually than they did from 1995 to 1999. In addition, millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) had less sex than people the same age did during the 1930s.


Pew Research Center

Dimock, Michael

“Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins”

(January 17, 2019)


“Americans Are Having Less Sex Nowadays”

(April 25, 2017)

Holohan, Meghan

“America is in a 'sex drought' and here's why it matters”

(April 12, 2019)

Washington Post

Ingraham, Christopher

“The share of Americans not having sex has reached a record high”

(March 29, 2019)