- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Swinging singles rule? The gospel according to supermarket magazines and cheesy prime-time TV has met its match.

The world’s first true study of global sexual health revealed yesterday that married people are having more sex than their single peers. Mr. and Mrs. are just fine in the bedroom, said British researchers who investigated the sexual mores of more than 1 million people in 59 countries.

Among Americans, more than 90 percent of married couples reported that they had sex in the previous month, compared with just over 50 percent among single men and women. The findings were similar in France, Britain and other industrialized nations — though British and French singles fared the best in the bunch, with more than 60 percent of singles reporting some recent luck in the bedroom.

There were a few highs and lows. The least sexually active married couples were found in some African countries, with less than 50 percent reporting that they had sex recently. The most active marrieds, in order, were found in France, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, the United States, Britain and Australia.

“We did have some of our preconceptions dashed,” said Kaye Wellings, a professor of sexual health at the University of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She based her conclusions on an analysis of 161 medical, social science and public health studies that were completed in the past 10 years.

“Monogamy is the dominant pattern everywhere. … Most people are married, and married people have the most sex,” she wrote in the study, published in the Lancet, a British medical journal.

What’s more, folks aren’t engaging in sex at ever-earlier ages as some provocative culture mavens, performers or clothing manufacturers might want us to think. Though there are regional variances, sexual activity begins for most men and women “in the late teen years,” the study found.

The median age for first sexual intercourse in the United States is just over 17 for young men and almost 18 for young women — about average on the global stage. The lowest median age for losing virginity among men was about 16 in both Peru and Britain. For women, it was 15 in several African nations, though many of those nations also reported the average age to marry among women ranged from 15 to 17.

Although marketers may foster a reputation of racy young Americans, the percentage of youths who had sex before 15 in the United States has dropped in the past three decades, from about 20 percent in 1975 to about 15 percent today.

“People who fear a tide of youthful promiscuity might take heart in the fact that trends toward early and premarital sex are neither as pronounced or prevalent as is sometimes assumed,” the study said.

The so-called swinging life replete with multiple sex partners appears to be a myth, it found.

“Most people report having only one recent sexual partner,” the study said, though the phenomenon was more common among men than women on a worldwide basis. In addition, men and women who reported having more than one partner lived in industrialized nations rather than developing ones.

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