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Sexual Behavior in Men and Women

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One of the things that men often wonder about - apart possibly from the size of their partner's previous lovers' penises - is how their sexual performance compares to the average member of the population.

After all, sex isn't something we men often talk about, at least not directly, to either our friends or our doctors. The aim of this page is to provide some information about sexual activity that will serve as a benchmark for what your boss, your brother, your neighbor and your best friend might be doing in bed. 

First of all, the average penis size is just under six inches long when erect, but there are a heck of a lot of guys whose penis is between five and seven inches long.

You can see all the evidence in great detail at, but to summarize all you need to know: the percentage of men with a penis up to five inches long when erect is 12.5%; up to five and a half inches it is 27.5%; six inches 60%; six and a quarter inches 70%; six and a half inches 80%. Basically, you are "average" anywhere between five and seven inches long.

Next, the average frequency of intercourse is probably much lower than you think. And one in five men is not having sex at all at any one time.

What's more, one in five men has not had any sex at all in the previous year! It's probably much more important that a couple have a compatible sex drive than a high one - problems start when a couple find they have widely different sex drives.

Nonetheless, there are average figures for the rate of intercourse: the average for the whole population in America is 59 times per year. But since the population includes many people who are not sexually active, to get a meaningful figure, you need to break this down more. Here are some examples of what's going on in the bedrooms of America:

Frequency of intercourse

Up to age 30, 44% of men in a relationship have sex three or four times a week (this does not include masturbation).

Up to age 30, 30% of men in a relationship have intercourse one or two times a week.

Up to age 30, only 12% of men not in a relationship have sex more than once a week.

Up to age 25, couples have sex on average 154 times a year.

Between 36 and 45, couples have sex on average 99 times a year.

Beyond 50, couples have sex on average 49 times a year.

15% of men account for half of all sexual activity; 40% of men account for 85% of all sexual activity. (Sounds a bit like the American economy, where 20% of the population has half of the wealth, and 15% of the population consumes 85% of the wine drunk in the USA.)

Number of partners

The average number of sexual partners reported by women of all ages is 6; by men of all ages, 20. This discrepancy might be real, or it might be the product of male fantasy and female reticence. (It's a fact that when you give women the opportunity to complete such questionnaires with the assurance no-one will ever see their answers, they tend to say they have had more sexual partners. This is perhaps an indication of the extent to which the shame of being seen as an "easy" woman is still around in our society!)

But if true, these numbers mean that a small number of women are servicing a lot of men! However, the female number is probably only a little low, since it is more or less the same in several surveys, and I'd take the view that that the male figure is rather high: if you look at the evidence from several studies, it turns out that a more realistic number for men is about 9 sexual partners.

Having said that, a small number of men report 99 or more sex partners; among women, one percent reported 99 or more partners. Clearly this level of promiscuity is very unusual.

Orgasms and faking orgasms

If you are wondering if you or your partner is having the right number of orgasms this might help:

Always have orgasms during sex: men 74%,  women 30%

Usually have orgasms: men 23%,  women 45%

Less often: men 3%, women 24%

We know that women sometimes don't orgasm during sex, though it's also clear that the act of lovemaking can be reward enough in itself.

Indeed, it's often the case that a woman doesn't know until she is having sex whether she will come or not, or even if she wants to try for an orgasm. But it is more of a surprise that so many men don't come during sex. I have no ready explanation for this. I mean, I haven't ever had intercourse and not been able to come! 

And if you are wondering if your partner has faked, well, sadly, the answer's probably "yes": nearly half of women report having faked an orgasm, but more surprisingly 11% of men say they've done so too.

The main reasons offered for this acting behavior were "getting it over with", and "pleasing my partner". Personally, I've always felt it rather insulting if my partner hasn't been honest enough to tell me the truth about how it was for her, but there you go.

I don't even particularly enjoy it when my partner makes "excited" noises as I come, as though somehow that would convince me she was getting a big thrill out of my ejaculating into her! I'm also sensitive enough to tell whether her noises are a genuine reflection of her own excitement or something done to please me.


Lastly, the question of how many men and women have betrayed their partner. Leaving aside the reasons for actually cheating, how many people have done it? Rather more than you might expect. Of the whole population, 16% report cheating.

Of men, 21% admit to having done the dirty on their partner (a rather high figure, though the definition of cheating didn't enquire whether the relationship was breaking down or not, and I suspect the figures might be different if you  analyzed the data in that way).

Among women, 11% report cheating. The highest rate was among single men over 30, of whom 42% said they had cheated on a partner. Half of all cheaters said their cheating sexual experience was unexpected, so an element of spontaneity is clearly involved.

Other pages on the penis and sex

Best sex positions
Fellatio - what women think
Better sex and masturbation
Pleasing a woman in bed
How To Satisfy A Woman In Bed
The penis & male pleasure
Premature ejaculation
Extended orgasm for men (1)
The senses in lovemaking
Arousal and desire
Fetish and fantasy
Sexual behavior
Intercourse with a soft penis
Men's sexual needs
The power of the penis
The nature of masculinity
Male sexual massage
Manifesting Your Reality

Other sections on the site

Penis facts and penile functions
The penis, masculinity and sex
A Cultural History Of The Penis
Penile & Other Problems 
Sex positions during pregnancy