Record Number Of Americans Did Not Have Sex Last Year In What Experts Are Calling ‘Great American Sex Drought’

A picture of a bedroom.
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A record number of Americans had a year-long dry spell in 2018, with the number of adults saying they went the entire year without having sex reaching an all-time high.

The latest data from the General Social Survey found that 23 percent of adults were celibate for the entire year, with an unusually high jump from men in their 20s. As the Salt Lake Tribune noted, experts have termed the phenomenon the “Great American Sex Drought,” and said that a number of factors have contributed to it, including an aging population.

While the number of Americans over the age of 60 reporting no sex in 2018 remained relatively stable at 50 percent, the portion of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 who did not have sex doubled between 2008 and 2018, the report noted. It reached 23 percent last year, with a much higher share of young men reporting not having sex than women.

There are also some more complicated factors involved, said Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of a book about what she calls the “iGen.” Twenge noted that labor force participation for young men has fallen, especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession. There has long been a link between labor force participation for men and stable relationships, Twenge noted.

As more of these young men are without stable employment, more are also living at home with their parents through their 20s, the survey found. As many might expect, young men living at home are less likely to be having sex.

Young adults are also putting off marriage until later, with climbing numbers of 20-somethings remaining single and not living with romantic partners. Experts say that is part of a trend that has now stretched for several decades, as more Americans wait until their mid-to-late 30s to establish a career before getting hitched.

As The Atlantic noted, the nationwide dry spell comes at a time when many would expect sex to be on the rise. There are a number of online apps that make dating easier and facilitate more casual sexual experiences, the report noted, and other factors would seem to point to more sex, like a drop in the number of new HIV cases. Moral attitudes toward sex have also loosened with each generation, the report noted.

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The trend stretches beyond adults, the report added. The number of teen pregnancies has dropped to a 20-year low, reaching one-third of its modern high.