POLL: American Sex Survey

The orgasm gap between the sexes likely explains why men are more apt than women to enjoy sex a great deal. Among people who always have orgasms -- disproportionately men -- nearly nine in 10 enjoy sex a great deal. Among those who don't always or usually have orgasms -- mainly women -- top-level enjoyment drops to 46 percent.

Sexual Enjoyment
Have orgasms: Enjoy sex 'a great deal'
Always 87%
Usually 74
Less often 46


Men and women are more in sync in other areas. Eight in 10 sexually active men and women alike say they have about "the right amount" of sexual foreplay. And they offer identical median estimates of the amount of time they spend having sex, including foreplay: 45 minutes.

Three-quarters of men and women alike are unworried about contracting AIDS or another sexually transmitted disease; widespread monogamy is the likely reason.

In another area of accord, three-quarters of men and women alike say it's more enjoyable to be married than dating. Sexual activity is a likely reason: Just 35 percent of singles are currently involved in a sexual relationship (rising to 51 percent of young singles), compared with 83 percent of couples (and 91 percent of couples excluding seniors).

There is room for improvement. Among people who've had sex in the last year, nearly nine in 10 describe their sex lives as exciting -- but far fewer, just over a third, call it "very exciting." Similarly, while more than seven in 10 women and men alike say they're satisfied with their sex lives, fewer -- about half -- say they're "very" satisfied. Still, that's greater than high-level satisfaction with jobs or finances, and about equal to the satisfaction people express with their health and social lives.

Americans give higher satisfaction ratings to their family lives (68 percent "very" satisfied), but the highest of all to their marriages or committed relationships. Indeed nearly everyone in a married or committed relationship is satisfied with it -- 97 percent -- including eight in 10 who are "very satisfied," men and women alike.

Big Picture

The big picture, sexually speaking, is as follows: Ninety-seven percent of adult Americans have ever had sexual intercourse; three percent are virgins. Seventy-eight percent have had sex in the last year (86 percent of men and 70 percent of women). And 64 percent are currently involved in a sexual relationship. (Excluding senior citizens, it's 72 percent.)

Among those who've had sex in the last year, the vast majority -- 86 percent -- have had a single sex partner in that time period. Far fewer adults, however, have had a single sex partner in their entire lifetime -- a quarter of women, and 12 percent of men. Coupling is the norm: More than eight in 10 Americans are either married (52 percent), living with a partner in a committed relationship (eight percent), widowed (eight percent), or gave wedlock a whirl but are now separated or divorced (15 percent). Seventeen percent -- mainly younger adults -- never have married.

The Sex Lives of Americans
Enjoy sex a great deal 70%
Very satisfied with sex life 50
Sex life very exciting 36
Sexually traditional 55
Sexually adventurous 42

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