Young people are less sexually active now than they were in 2002, a study has found.
Almost 10,000 Americans were quizzed on their sexual antics as part of a study run by scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
Analysis of the data reveals that between 2016 and 2018, 30 per cent of men aged between 18 and 24 had not had sex for 12 months.
This is an increase in sexual inactivity since the dawn of the millennium as in 2002, only 19 per cent of this demographic reported being celibate for 12 months.
Researchers are unsure why celibacy, involuntary or otherwise, is on the rise among young people, but believe myriad technological distractions could be to blame.
It could also be due to a rapid cultural overhaul in western civilisation, with young people taking longer to grow into adulthood generally, experts say.
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Between 2016 and 2018, 30 per cent of men aged between 18 and 24 had not had sex for 12 months. This is an increase in sexual inactivity since the dawn of the millennium as in 2002, only 19 per cent of this demographic reported being celibate for a year (stock image)
Study author Dr Peter Ueda says the supply of online entertainment may compete with sexual activity for the attention of young people.
What is more, the introduction of smartphones may have made human interactions more difficult.
Participants were asked ‘about how often did you have sex during the last 12 months?’ and answers ranged from ‘not at all’ to ‘more than three times a week.’
Sexual frequency was categorised into none during the past year, once or twice a year, one to three times a month and weekly or more.
They were also asked how many sexual partners they had in the last year with choices ranging from ‘none’ to ‘more than 100.’
This revealed university age males are having less sex than in previous generations, but the trend towards sexual inactivity is a wider-reaching epidemic.
Overall, for men aged between 18 and 44, sexual inactivity has jumped from 9.5 per cent in 2002 to 16.5 per cent in 2018.
However, the sexual habits of the older generation of 35 to 44-year-olds, fitting in the Gen Y and Gen X categories, are ‘largely unchanged’, figures claim.
The increase in a sex-free life comes from younger men.
Around 14 per cent of males aged between 25 and 34 have not had sexual contact with another human in 12 months. In 2002, this figure was just seven per cent.
Writing in the study, the scientists write: ‘The absolute increase in sexual inactivity was most pronounced among men aged 18 to 24 years (18.9 per cent vs 30.9 per cent).
‘In this age group, the proportions of those reporting weekly or more sexual activity (51.8 per cent vs 37.4 per cent) and those reporting just one sexual partner (44.2 per cent vs 30.0 per cent) decreased.
‘Among men aged 25 to 34 years, sexual inactivity doubled from 7.0 per cent to 14.1 per cent, and weekly or more sexual activity decreased from 65.3 per cent to 50.3 per cent.
‘In men aged 35 to 44 years, sexual inactivity was largely unchanged during the study period.’
Researchers are unsure why celibacy, involuntary or otherwise, is on the rise among young people, but believe myriad technological distractions could be to blame (Stock)
The sexual inactivity burden is falling on men, the study proves, as sexual activity in the total age range for women was stable.
But data does reveal that among 18-24-year-old women, the number of people who have not had sex in a year has increased marginally from 12 per cent to 19 per cent.
For the older demographic of 25 to 34-year-olds, the figures have risen from seven per cent in 2002 to 12 per cent in the modern world.
Researchers say that, unlike in men, this is not statistically significant.
While a larger portion of people are now not having any sex at all, the amount of people having regular intercourse is also dwindling.
Men aged 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 years old report having weekly sex sessions fell from 52 to 37 and 65 to 50 per cent, respectively.
It also dropped from 66 to 54 per cent for 25 to 34 year old women.
Men can SMELL when a woman is aroused
Men can literally sniff out when a woman is sexually aroused – and find them more attractive when they are – a study has discovered.
In a series of blind tests where men inhaled the scent of a woman’s sweat, the same woman was deemed to be more attractive when sexually aroused.
The investigation into carnal lust also found exposure to the chemical signals emanating from female sweat increases the sexual arousal levels of men.
A series of three experiments were carried out to investigate if and how chemical signals from women affected men.
In the study, the researchers write: ‘Experiment 1 revealed that men evaluate the axillary [armpit] sweat of sexually aroused women as more attractive, compared to the scent of the same women when not sexually aroused.
‘In addition, Experiment 2 showed that exposure to sexual chemosignals increased the men’s sexual arousal.
‘Experiment 3 found support for the thesis that exposure to sexual chemosignals would increase sexual motivation.’
The study also found that women are having sex with more partners in the modern world than they were two decades ago.
In 2002, five per cent of women reported having three or more sexual partners in a year. In 2018, this figure rose to 7.1 per cent.
However, it was primarily driven by women between 25 and 34 as the amount of women in this age group who have been intimate with at least three different partners more than doubled, from 3.5 per cent in 2002 to 7.3 per cent in 2018.
Professor Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University who was not involved in the study, said the increasing prevalence of a sexless existence is likely due to technology.
‘Although internet sites and social media should theoretically make it easier to find new sexual partners, time spent online has also displaced time once spent on face-to-face social interaction,’ she says.
‘Even when individuals interact face to face, mobile technology such as smartphones may interfere with the satisfaction that people derive from in-person interaction.
‘The neologism phubbing describes a social interaction in which one partner pulls out his/her phone, thus snubbing the other partner.
‘This behaviour may be especially problematic in romantic relationships, in which it is associated with lower relationship satisfaction.
‘Between the 24-hour availability of entertainment and the temptation to use smartphones and social media, sexual activity may not be as attractive as it once was.
‘Put simply, there are now many more choices of things to do in the late evening than there once were and fewer opportunities to initiate sexual activity if both partners are engrossed in social media, electronic gaming, or binge watching.
The full findings are available in the journal JAMA Network Open.