How Many Sex Partners Do People Have Before Marriage?

94% of women and 96% of men report having premarital sex by age 44. Among those never married, 19.7% of men and 18% of women have 5-9 sex partners.
split screen image with a bar graph on the left depicting that among unmarried women aged 18 to 44, 11.1% report having three or more sexual partners in the previous year, 10.7% report having two sexual partners in the previous year, and 58.4% report having just one sexual partner in the previous year, with a photograph of a young couple dancing together at prom, premarital sex concept
Updated:November 2023

By the age of 44, 96% of men and 94% of women reported that they’d had premarital sex at some point in their lifetime. [1]

Key Statistics To Know:

  • Among unmarried men aged 18 to 44, 21.4% reported having 3 or more sexual partners in the past year, while 15.6% reported having 2 sexual partners and 38.1% reported having just one partner during the same timeframe. [2]
  • Among unmarried women aged 18 to 44, 11.1% reported having 3 or more sexual partners in the past year, while 10.7% reported having 2 sexual partners and 58.4% reported having just one partner in the past year. [2]
  • One study found that among men through the age of 44 who reported having premarital sex, 60% did so by age 18, 77% did so by age 20, 89% did so in their 20s by age 25, 93% did so by age 30, and 94% did so by age 35, 95% did so by age 40, and 96% did so in their 40s by age 44. [1]
  • Among women through the age of 44 who reported having premarital sex, 54% did so by age 18, 74% did so by age 20, 88% did so by age 25, 93% did so by age 30, and 94% did so by ages 35 to 44. [1]
  • Among adult men aged 50 and older who had never been married, 19.7% reported having between 5 and 9 sexual partners throughout their lifetime and 19.3% reported having between 2 and 4 sexual partners throughout their lifetime. [3]
  • Among adult women aged 50 and older who had never been married, 18% reported having between 5 and 9 sexual partners throughout their lifetime and 24.9% reported having between 2 and 4 sexual partners throughout their lifetime. [3]

In this article, we’ll share key statistics relating to the number of sex partners before marriage (during the previous year and over a lifetime) for both men and women, as well as the ages at which premarital sex occurs for each.

Sex Partners Before Marriage (Men)

bar graph depicting that among unmarried men aged 18 to 44, 21.4% report having three or more sexual partners in the previous year, 15.6% report having two sexual partners in the previous year, and 38.1% report having just one sexual partner in the previous year
  • Among unmarried men aged 18 to 44 (from 2016 to 2018), 21.4% report having 3 or more sexual partners in the past year. [2]
  • Among unmarried men aged 18 to 44 (from 2016 to 2018), 15.6% reported having 2 sexual partners in the past year, while 38.1% reported having just one partner in the past year. [2]
  • Among adult men aged 50 and older who had never been married, 43.4% reported having 10 or more sexual partners throughout their lifetime. [3]
  • Among adult men aged 50 and older who had never been married, 19.7% reported having between 5 and 9 sexual partners throughout their lifetime and 19.3% reported having between 2 and 4 sexual partners throughout their lifetime. [3]
  • Among adult men aged 50 and older who had never been married, 17.7% reported having 1 or no sexual partners during their lifetime. [3]
  • By the age of 44, 96% of American men reported that they’d had premarital sex at some point in their lifetime. [1]
  • One study found that among men through the age of 44 who reported having premarital sex, 60% did so by age 18, 77% did so by age 20, 89% did so by age 25, 93% did so by age 30, and 94% did so by age 35, 95% did so by age 40, and 96% did so by age 44. [1]
  • The median age at which men reported having first premarital sex was 17.6 years old, during their teenage years. [1]

While some individuals may choose to wait to have sex until marriage, the vast majority of men (and women) have sex before marriagetypically in their 20s and before age 25.

As unmarried individuals age, they are more likely to accumulate a higher number of “premarital” partners.

Sex Partners Before Marriage (Women)

bar graph depicting that among unmarried women aged 18 to 44, 11.1% report having three or more sexual partners in the previous year, 10.7% report having two sexual partners in the previous year, and 58.4% report having just one sexual partner in the previous year
  • Among unmarried women aged 18 to 44 (from 2016 to 2018), 11.1% report having 3 or more sexual partners in the past year. [2]
  • Among unmarried women aged 18 to 44 (from 2016 to 2018), 10.7% reported having 2 sexual partners in the past year, while 58.4% reported having just one partner in the past year. [2]
  • Among adult women aged 50 and older who had never been married, 21.7% reported having 10 or more sexual partners throughout their lifetime. [3]
  • Among adult women aged 50 and older who had never been married, 18% reported having between 5 and 9 sexual partners throughout their lifetime and 24.9% reported having between 2 and 4 sexual partners throughout their lifetime. [3]
  • Among adult women aged 50 and older who had never been married, 35.4% reported having 1 or no sexual partners during their lifetime. [3]
  • By the age of 44, 94% of women reported that they’d had premarital sex at some point in their lifetime. [1]
  • One study found that among women through the age of 44 who reported having premarital sex, 54% did so by age 18, 74% did so by age 20, 88% did so by age 25, 93% did so by age 30, and 94% did so by ages 35 to 44. [1]
  • The median age at which women reported having their first premarital sex was 17.2 years old, during their teenage years. [1]

Women start having premarital sex a bit later than men, but by age 25, the percentage of each gender who have had sex is about the same.

However, women tend to have fewer premarital partners on average compared to men.

Sources:

  1. Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954–2003 – PMC
  2. Trends in Frequency of Sexual Activity and Number of Sexual Partners Among Adults Aged 18 to 44 Years in the US, 2000-2018
  3. Sociodemographic and behavioural correlates of lifetime number of sexual partners: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing