The Kinsey Institute 

FAQs & statistics

The Kinsey Institute fields a multitude of questions about sexuality, gender, reproduction, and other topics. Consult the topics below for answers, statistics, and resources to our most frequently asked questions.

Topics

This is not a repository for all answers and statistics related to human sexuality, gender, or reproduction. The following only addresses questions frequently asked of the Kinsey Institute and its researchers. All information includes research sources and/or links to published studies and additional information. [KI] denotes any answer citing Kinsey Institute research.

Note: If you have personal questions about sexuality, please visit Kinsey Confidential.

(click topics to expand)

  • Median number of opposite-sex partners in lifetime among U.S. men and women aged 25-44 years of age is 6.6 for men and 4.3 for women. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2015)
  • Percentage of men and women aged 15-44 years of age who have had 15 or more opposite-sex sexual partners in their lifetime is 21.8% for men, and 10.6% for women. (National Center for Health Statistics, 2015)
  • Over 50% of respondents ages 18-24 indicated that their most recent sexual partner was a casual or dating partner. For all other age groups, the majority of study participants indicated that their most recent sexual partner was a relationship partner. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010).
  • Men whose most recent sexual encounter was with a relationship partner reported greater arousal, greater pleasure, fewer problems with erectile function, orgasm, and less pain during the event than men whose last sexual encounter was with a non-relationship partner. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010).
  • Men and women both were likely to report sexual satisfaction if they also reported frequent kissing and cuddling, sexual caressing by the partner, higher sexual functioning, and if they had sex more frequently. On the other hand, for men, having had more sex partners in their lifetime was a predictor of less sexual satisfaction. Read more »
  • [KI] Frequent kissing or cuddling predicted happiness in the relationship for men, but not for women. Both men and women reported more happiness the longer they had been together. Read more »
  • Sexual dissatisfaction is associated with increased risk of divorce and relationship dissolution. Read more »

There is wide variability in what people consider included in "having sex." According to the study, considerations of "sex" also varied depending on whether or not a condom was used, female or male orgasm, and if the respondent was performing or receiving the stimulation. Read more »

  • 45% of participants considered performing manual-genital stimulation to be "having sex"
  • 71% considered performing oral sex to be "sex"
  • 80.8% considered anal-genital intercourse to be "sex"
  • Average age of first intercourse, by gender, in the United States (Read more »):
    • Males: 16.8 yrs
    • Females: 17.2 yrs
  • Teen sexual activity, contraceptive use, teen pregnancy, abortion, and STIs: American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health (2014)
  • 28% of Americans over age 45 report they had sexual intercourse once a week or more in the last six months, and 40% report having intercourse at least once a month. More than one in five Americans over age 45 (22%) say they engage in self-stimulation at least once a week. Read more »
  • [KI] For more, see Sexual Behaviors, Condom Use, and Sexual Health of Americans Over 50: Implications for Sexual Health Promotion for Older Adults (2010)
  • Among ages 18-59, older age for men is associated with lower likelihood of his own orgasm; for women it is associated with a higher likelihood of her own orgasm. Age is not associated with the partner's orgasm for either men or women. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • For women aged 50 and higher, older age is related to a decline in all sexual behaviors: 5% per year of age for penile-vaginal intercourse; 7% per year of age receiving or giving oral sex. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)

(Bondage, Discipline, Domination/Submission, Sadism/Masochism)

  • In a small sample there were no significant differences between BDSM practitioners and the general population on measures of psychopathology, depression, anxiety, OCD, and psychological sadism and masochism. Read more »
  • 1.8% of sexually active people (2.2% of men, 1.3% of women) said they had been involved in BDSM in the previous year. Read more »
  • 12% of females and 22% of males reported erotic response to a SM story. (Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, 1953)
  • 55% of females and 50% of males reported having responded erotically to being bitten. (Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, 1953)
  • 56% of american women and 66% of men report using a condom use for first sex. 72% of females and 78% of male teenagers 15-19 years report condom use at first sex. Read more »
  • [KI] 28.1% of men reported that they had lost their erection while putting on a condom at least once during the last three times they used a condoms. Men who reported erection loss with condoms were almost twice as likely to report having removed a condom prematurely during the last three condom uses. (40.8% of men reporting erection loss prematurely removed condoms, compared with 21.3% of men not reporting problems). Read more »
  • More than half of women ages 18 to 49 reported masturbating during the previous 90 days. Rates were highest among those 25-29 and progressively lesser in older age groups. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Approximately one-third of women in all relationships in the 60- to 69-year cohort reported recent masturbation. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • About 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm at the most recent sexual event; this compares to the 64% of women who report having had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010.)
  • Men are more likely to orgasm when sex includes vaginal intercourse; women are more likely to orgasm when they engage in a variety of sex acts and when oral sex or vaginal intercourse is included. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010.)
  • Among ages 18-59, older age for men is associated with lower likelihood of his own orgasm; for women it is associated with a higher likelihood of her own orgasm. Age is not associated with the partner's orgasm for either men or women. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010).
  • Women are much more likely to be nearly always or always orgasmic when alone than with a partner. However, among women currently in a partnered relationship, 62% say they are very satisfied with the frequency/consistency of orgasm. Read more »
  • It is possible to experience both genital and non-genital orgasm, even for some individuals with spinal cord injuries. (Functional MRI of the brain during orgasm in women, 2005).

See Social Science Research on Pornography for a list of studies on pornography

  • In a survey of adolescent (10-17 y/o) internet users found 42% had been exposed to internet pornography in the past year, with 66% of those exposures reported as unwanted. Read more »
  • In a national study, 14% of people reported having used a sexually explicit website ever. Additionally, 25% of men reported visiting a pornographic site in the previous 30 days; 4% of women reported visiting pornographic sites in the same timeframe. Read more »

15% of men are estimated to have had sex with a prostitute. Read more »

  • Despite common conceptions of prostitution, only a minority of prostitutes work on the streets (10–30%). While street prostitution receives the majority of legal attention, far more prostitutes work as escorts, call girls, or in massage parlors and brothels. Read more »
  • [KI] 69% of white males had at least one experience with a prostitute. (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948)

Sexual identity (e.g., gay, lesbian, bisexual) may differ from sexual attraction and sexual behavior.

Sexual Orientation

  • [KI] Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale - also known as "the Kinsey scale".
  • An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Read more »
  • .5-1% of the United States population is estimated to be asexual (no attraction to anyone) Read more »
  • In an analysis of national survey results from 2006-2008, the percentage reporting their sexual identity as homosexual ranged from 2–4% of males, and about 1–2% of females. Read more »

Same & opposite sex behavior:

  • 95.3% of women and 93.5% of men aged 18–44 report ever having any opposite-sex sexual contact. (National Health Statistics Reports, 2016)
  • Almost three times as many women (17.4%) reported any same-sex contact in their lifetime compared with men (6.2%) aged 18–44. (National Health Statistics Reports, 2016), See also: Prevalence of Homosexuality
  • About 4%–6% of males ever had same-sex contact. For females, the percentage who have ever had same-sex contact ranges from about 4% to 11–12%. Read more »
  • 19 million Americans (8.2%) report that they have engaged in same sex sexual behavior and nearly 25.6 million Americans (11%) report some same sex sexual attraction. Read more »
  • In an analysis of national survey results from 2006–2008, the percentage reporting their sexual identity as bisexual is between 1–3% of males, and 2–5% of females. Read more »
  • [KI] A 2011 study found that bisexual men exhibited a distinctive arousal pattern separate from heterosexual or homosexual men. Read more »

Transgender

  • An estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender. Read more »
  • A review of 8 transgender studies found rates for male-to-female between 1 in 11,900 to 1 in 45,000 and female-to-male between 1 in 30,400 to 1 in 200,000. (World Professional Association for Transgender Health, 2011)
  • Among male-to-female transgender people (MtF), 27% are attracted to men, 35% are attracted to women, and 38% are attracted to men and women. Read more »
  • Among female-to-male transgender people (FtM), 10% are attracted to men, 55% are attracted to women, and 35% are attracted to men and women. Read more »
  • 12-27% of children continue to experience gender dysphoria as adults. (World Professional Association for Transgender Health, 2011)

Sexual assault & nonconsensual sexual contact

  • In 2006, there were 272,350 sexual assaults in the United States. This is one sexual assault every 116 seconds or about one every two minutes. Read more »
  • Less than 5% of rapes were reported to law enforcement officials. Read more »
  • Rape rates are often drastically high in worn-torn nations. In Rwanda in 1994, it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women and girls were raped in less than 100 days (Human Rights Watch, 1996).
  • 11.7% of student respondents across 27 universities reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since they enrolled at their university. Read more »
  • The incidence of sexual assault and sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation among female undergraduate student respondents was 23.1%, including 10.8% who experienced penetration. Read more »
  • One-third (33.1%) of senior females and 39.1% of seniors identifying as transgender/genderqueer or non-conforming/questioning report being a victim of nonconsensual sexual contact at least once. Read more »

Child sexual abuse

  • Child sexual abuse is believed to affect 10-25% of girls worldwide (World Health Organization, 2004).
  • In studies conducted mostly in developed countries, 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children (World Health Organization, 2004)
  • An estimated 100 million to 400 million women worldwide have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). About three million girls are subjected to the procedure every year (World Health Organization, 2006).

Sexual health

  • CDC estimates that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States, with one in five unaware of their infection. Read more »

Penis size

  • [KI] The average erect penis of males in the US is 5–7 inches and the average circumference is 4-6 inches. Read more »
  • Looking for facts and myths about penis enlargement? Visit the Male Sex Questions section on Kinsey Confidential.

Menarche

Onset

  • From the 19th century through the mid-20th century, average age at menarche declined steadily in the United States and Europe, possibly due to improved nutrition and a reduction in strenuous physical activity. In the United States, average age at menarche declined from older than 14 years in 1877 to 12.8 years in 1947. Read more »
  • In the United States, the age at menarche (AAM) varies from 11.96 to 12.93 years. About 10% of girls reach the AAM at 11 years old or younger, while 90% of girls reach AAM at 13.75 years with a median age of 12.43 years. Read more »
  • African American (12.2 years) and Hispanic (12.3) girls tend to have a significant earlier AAM. The AAM for Asian girls is 13.00 ± 1.26 years. Read more »

Determininants of AAM

  • Age at menarche is determined in part by hereditary and non-hereditary factors. The contribution of genetic factors is about 57-82%. Non-hereditary factors like a childhood diet that is high in animal protein and low in vegetable protein may also be linked with earlier menarche. Menarche tends to be earlier in girls with more body fat and later in girls who exercise. Read more »
  • Higher body mass index (BMI) in girls as young as 36 months of age is associated to early menarche. A strong association between large waist circumference and early AAM has more predictive value than body weight for possible adverse outcomes in adulthood. Read more »
  • Consuming animal protein (cow milk and meat) and soy-containing products promote early AAM through excessive energy intake and subsequent overweight. On the other hand, vegetable protein, fiber and vitamin D protect against rapid AAM. Read more »
  • Girls exposed to regular high intensive physical exercises in childhood and adolescence delay AAM. Physical activity and nutritional deficiency influences AAM and lead to, an average, 1-year delay in AAM. Read more »
  • Adverse childhood experience, such as sexual abuse, alcohol addicted or nervous troubled parents are strongly associated with early AAM. Read more »

Breast cancer risk associated to AAM

  • AAM is a well-established breast cancer risk factor. Early AAM ≤12 vs ≥ 14 is associated with increased risk of young-onset breast cancer and invasive breast cancer. Breast cancer risk increased by a factor of 1.050 for every year younger at menarche. Read more »
  • The longer the interval between menarche and first pregnancy the greater is a woman’s breast cancer risk. Therefore, menarche-to-first pregnancy represents a window of time when breast tissue is particularly vulnerable to carcinogenic stimuli. Read more »
  • In a 2011 review by Lynch et al, the average reduction in breast cancer risk associated with physical activity at different ages was 16% for adolescence, 8% for early adulthood, 15% for middle adulthood, and 17% for age 50 and older. Read more »

Menopause

  • Most estimates of age at natural menopause are based on samples of Caucasian women in western societies, although one international study of 18,997 women from 11 countries found the median age at natural menopause to be 50 years (range, 49–52 years).
  • African-American women experience menopause 6–12 months earlier than Caucasians, with a median age of 49.3 years for African Americans.
  • For Mexican women, median ages at menopause have been reported to be 48.2 years.
  • Japanese women reported a median age at menopause of 50.4 years. Malaysian women reported a similar median age at menopause of 50.7 years. Thai women reported a median age at menopause of 49.5 years. Filipino Malay women were reported to be an average age of 47–48 years at menopause.

Read more on these statistics »