According to the 2013 National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), the average number of sexual partners as risen in the UK over the last 20 years. As of 2013, the average number of male sexual partners for a woman was 7.7, while the average number of female sexual partners for a man was 11.7. (In 1991 these figures were 3.7 and 8.6 respectively.) There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ number of sexual partners for an individual of either gender. However, any sexual activity requires certain precautions to avoid unwanted consequences.
There are various possible reasons for the rise in sexual partners. Increasingly relaxed attitudes towards sex is one. Fewer long-term relationships is another. Notably, Natsal-3 found the general population spends less time having sex than in 1991. More sexual partners does not mean more sexual intercourse: quite the opposite in fact.
Whether you are above, below, or exactly par for the national average doesn’t matter. What matters is looking after your sexual health and feeling confident and good about your sex life. Being conscious of the following can help:
An increased number of sexual partners generally means an increased chance of contracting an STI. Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HPV are three of the most common and contagious STIs. Chlamydia especially, but also gonorrhoea and HPV, can often be symptomless, so regular STI testing is important. Ditto testing for HIV. Wearing a condom vastly reduces the chance of catching an STI and Condoms are 98% efficient when used correctly. Visit our Sexual Health Page for testing, treatments, and more information.
Again, more sexual partners increases the chances of an unplanned pregnancy. The authors of Nastal-3 estimated that 1.5% of pregnancies in Britain are unplanned. Of pregnant women aged between 16 – 44, interviewed in 2012, 16% said their pregnancy was unplanned and 29% said they were ambivalent about it. There are several ways to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Wearing a condom is one; the contraceptive pill is another, and is effective 99% of the time if taken correctly. In the case of unprotected sex, the morning-after pill is effective, provided it is taken soon after intercourse. To purchase or discover more about the above treatments and others, visit our Online Health Clinic.
Many men will experience erectile dysfunction in their lifetime, either as a one-off occurrence or a recurring problem. ED can occur if you don’t know the person very well and don’t feel comfortable around them. Lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, stress or simply nerves are all potential causes. Age is another: over 40s are especially susceptible to ED, and in 80% of cases an underlying medical condition is the cause. Fortunately, a range of treatments are available. Visit our Erectile Dysfunction Page for more information or take our online FREE ED assessment. If over 40, you should get a health check up as ED could easily be the symptom of an underlying condition.
Premature ejaculation is usually psychological – meaning sexual experience can play an indirect role. Having sex with a new person is exciting, which can contribute to PE. PE is a little harder to define than ED as it depends largely on the individual and their partner. Provided both parties are happy and satisfied, the time taken to ejaculate matters little. Medically, PE generally refers to ejaculation occurring within 90 seconds of penetration – but again, this only stands if one or both parties are unhappy with the length of sex. A new partner might be less understanding than a long-term one. The Nastal-3 found 15% of men experienced PE, whereas 13% experienced ED. Treatment such as Priligy, a tablet, or EMLA Cream is available on our website. Behavioural techniques can also prove effective. Visit our online Premature Ejaculation clinic for more information.