Are Men Or Women More Sexually Active — And Why?

According to our findings, men (in general) tend to report more sex partners than women but the frequency of sex is roughly similar between the genders.
split screen image with a graphic on the left featuring vector silhouettes of five people with 4.3 of them colored solid orange to depict that american women aged 25 to 49 report having an average of 4.3 sexual partners in their lifetime, with a sexy photograph on the right of a woman dancing between two men
Updated:November 2023

Between the ages of 25 and 49, 28.3% of American men reported having 15 or more sex partners in their lifetime, compared to 12.9% of American women in that age group who reported the same. [1]

Among men aged 18 to 44, 46.7% reported having sex weekly or more often in the past year, compared to 53.3% of women in that age group who reported the same sex frequency. [2]

Key Statistics To Know:

  • American men between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having an average of 6.3 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • American women between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having an average of 4.3 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 49.9% of men aged 35 to 44 reported having sex weekly or more often during the past year, compared to 50.3% of men aged 25 to 34 and 37.4% of men aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • 53.3% of women aged 35 to 44 reported having sex weekly or more often during the past year, compared to 54.2% of women aged 25 to 34 and 52.1% of women aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • Among women aged 18 to 44, 26.2% reported having sex between 1 and 3 times per month during the past year. [2]
  • According to our findings, men generally tend to report more sex partners than women, though individual experiences vary.
  • There are several reasons why women tend to have fewer partners compared to men, including the cultural sexual double standard — that sexually active women are “sluts,” while sexually active men are “studs.”
  • While men tend to have more sexual partners compared to women, interestingly, their sexual frequency is roughly similar.
  • Considering the data, women are no less sexual than men — they are just more selective about their partners and often prefer relationships to casual sex.

In this article, we’ll examine who is more sexually active — men or women — based on partner counts and sex frequency, and explore the reasons why.

Sex Partner Counts (Men)

graphic with vector silhouettes of seven people with 6.3 of them colored solid orange to depict that american men aged 25 to 49 report having an average of 6.3 sexual partners in their lifetime
  • American men between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having an average of 6.3 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 11.2% of American men between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 1 sexual partner in their lifetime. [1]
  • 22.3% of American men between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 2 to 4 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 25.8% of American men between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 5 to 9 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 12.5% of American men between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 10 to 14 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 28.3% of American men between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 15 or more sex partners in their lifetime. [1]

Among men, about 2/3 report having 5 or more sexual partners, with close to 1/3 reporting 15 or more.

Sex Partner Counts (Women)

graphic with vector silhouettes of five people with 4.3 of them colored solid orange to depict that american women aged 25 to 49 report having an average of 4.3 sexual partners in their lifetime
  • American women between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having an average of 4.3 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 17.7% of American women between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 1 sexual partner in their lifetime. [1]
  • 29.2% of American women between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 2 to 4 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 28.6% of American women between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 5 to 9 sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 11.6% of American women between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 10 to 14 sex partners in their lifetime. [1]
  • 12.9% of American women between the ages of 25 and 49 reported having 15 or more sexual partners in their lifetime. [1]

On average, women tend to report fewer sexual partners than men.

A bit over half of women report having 5 or more sex partners, and only about 13% have had 15 or more.

Who Has More Sex Partners: Men Or Women?

In general, men tend to report more sex partners than women, though individual experiences of course vary.

While about 2/3 of men report having 5 or more partners, about 53% of women report the same.

Meanwhile, over 28% of men but only 13% of women report having 15 or more sexual partners.

There are several reasons why women tend to have fewer partners compared to men.

Many women prefer (or require) an emotional connection with a partner or have higher standards for selecting a sexual partner.

Orgasm is more likely for women in relationships as well, and greater religiosity/spirituality can impact their sexual partner choices.

Additionally, the cultural sexual double standard — sexually active women are “sluts,” while sexually active men are “studs” — is a factor.

Finally, women face a higher risk of assault, are less likely to visit sex workers compared to men, and may have a greater concern with their sexual health, specifically pregnancy and STIs.

Sex Frequency (Men)

donut chart depicting that among men aged 18 to 44, 46.7% reported having sex weekly or more often during the past year
  • Among men aged 18 to 44, 46.7% reported having sex weekly or more often in the past year. [2]
  • 49.9% of men aged 35 to 44 reported having sex weekly or more often during the past year, compared to 50.3% of men aged 25 to 34 and 37.4% of men aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • Among men aged 18 to 44, 27.7% reported having sex between 1 and 3 times per month during the past year. [2]
  • 31% of men aged 35 to 44 reported having sex 1 to 3 times per month during the past year, compared to 28.1% of men aged 25 to 34 and 22.7% of men aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • Among men aged 18 to 44, 9.1% reported having sex just once or twice during the previous year. [2]
  • 11.1% of men aged 35 to 44 reported having sex once or twice during the previous year, compared to 7.5% of men aged 25 to 34 and 8.9% of men aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • 83.7% of men aged 57 to 64 reported having sexual activity with a partner in the previous 12 months; of those, 67.5% reported having it 2 to 3 times per month or more often. [3]
  • 67% of men aged 65 to 74 reported having sexual activity with a partner in the previous 12 months; of those, 65.4% reported having it 2 to 3 times per month or more often. [3]
  • 38.5% of men aged 75 to 85 years old reported having sexual activity with a partner in the previous 12 months; of those, 54.2% reported having it 2 to 3 times per month or more often. [3]

Most adult men (almost 75%) have sex at least monthly, if not weekly or more.  However, about a quarter of men have sex twice per year or less.

Sex Frequency (Women)

donut graphic depicting that among women aged 18 to 44, 53.3% reported having sex weekly or more often during the past year
  • Among women aged 18 to 44, 53.3% reported having sex weekly or more often in the past year. [2]
  • 53.3% of women aged 35 to 44 reported having sex weekly or more often during the past year, compared to 54.2% of women aged 25 to 34 and 52.1% of women aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • Among women aged 18 to 44, 26.2% reported having sex between 1 and 3 times per month during the past year. [2]
  • 31.2% of women aged 35 to 44 reported having sex 1 to 3 times per month during the past year, compared to 25.9% of women aged 25 to 34 and 18.6% of women aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • Among women aged 18 to 44, 7.9% reported having sex just once or twice during the previous year. [2]
  • 7.1% of women aged 35 to 44 reported having sex once or twice during the previous year, compared to 7.4% of women aged 25 to 34 and 10.1% of women aged 18 to 24 who reported the same. [2]
  • 61.6% of women aged 57 to 64 reported having sexual activity with a partner in the previous 12 months; of those, 62.6% reported having it 2 to 3 times per month or more often. [3]
  • 39.5% of women aged 65 to 74 reported having sexual activity with a partner in the previous 12 months; of those, 65.4% reported having it 2 to 3 times per month or more often. [3]
  • 16.7% of women aged 75 to 85 years old reported having sexual activity with a partner in the previous 12 months; of those, 54.1% reported having it 2 to 3 times per month or more often. [3]

As with men, a majority of women have sex at least monthly — almost 80%, while about 20% have sex twice per year or less.

As women age, average sexual frequency drops substantially between ages 57-64 and 65-74, when health problems and partner loss become increasingly common.

Who Has Sex More Often: Men Or Women?

While men tend to have more sexual partners compared to women, interestingly, their sexual frequency is roughly similar.

This suggests that men and women are fairly equally sexual, but may tend to have sex in different contexts — men tend to be more comfortable with casual sex than women, while women (on average) tend to prefer sex in relationships.

As men and women age, women stop having sex sooner than men — in large part (at least among heterosexual couples), because on average, women live longer than men.

However, among elderly men and women who are having sex, similar percentages report sex 2-3 times per month, suggesting that when elderly women have a partner, they have sex about as often as elderly men.

These data among the elderly mirror data among younger populations — it is not that women are less sexual than men, they are just more selective about their partners and often prefer relationships to casual sex.

Sources: