On one hand the findings suggest that – as in other developed countries – people in the UK have stopped having so much sex in the last decade. But something else might be at play too. What if we’re just starting to be honest about how little sex we’re having?
“We probably have become more relaxed about ignoring social expectations when it comes to sex. Men are maybe not so intent on boasting as they once were. Women are not so intent on showing that they are pure as driven snow”, says Kaye Wellings, professor of sexual and reproductive health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who led the research.
Changing norms around sex may affect both reported and actual sexual frequency. “Maybe we are more honest about sexual activity. Maybe we are more realistic and much more informed about our sexual behaviour and that of others, and therefore less inclined to exaggerate”, says Peter Leusink, general practitioner and sexologist at Radboud University Medical Centre.