Americans Are Having Less Sex These Days, According to a New Study

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If you've been going through a bit of a dry spell lately, you're not alone: Americans aren't having as much sex as they used to, and that's true no matter their age, gender, or wealth, according to a new study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior that found people are having less frequent sex than they did 10 years ago.

To conduct the March 2017 study, researchers at San Diego State University analyzed data from 26,000 Americans who have responded to questions about their sex lives since 1989. Overall, the researchers found that Americans had sex nine fewer times each year from 2010 to 2014 compared to 2000 to 2004. And Americans who were married or living together had sex 16 fewer times a year than the decade prior. (Cue the married-people-never-have-sex jokes.) This is a reversal from previous decades—in the 1990s, married people had more sex than never-married people, but that flip-flopped by the mid-2000s.

So why are people having less sex these days? Researchers say it's all about having a steady partner. If you are married or living together, you're more likely to have more sex, and the study found that there were simply fewer people with long-term partners. Combine that with the fact that partnered people were having less sex themselves, and it adds up to a whole lot less sex in America.

The numbers vary greatly depending on age: People in their 20s reported having sex more than 80 times a year, 45-year-olds reported having sex 60 times a year, and 65-year-olds reported having sex 20 times a year. And being busy at work wasn't an excuse, as people who worked longer hours actually reported having more frequent sex. (No surprise there—getting it on is apparently good for your career.)

The cause isn't generational, though. People born in later decades—such as millennials—actually reported having less sex than their parents and grandparents did when they were their age. And that makes sense—back in the day, people got married and settled down earlier, so they fell into the "partnered" category at a younger age.

But don't let this info get you down! A November 2015 study found that the happiest couples had sex just once a week, which supports something you probably already knew: When it comes to sex, quality always beats quantity.

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Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.