Ever wondered how your number of sexual partners compares to individuals across the country? A new survey has dared to ask that uncomfy “what’s your number?” question to thousands of Americans and Europeans, figuring out who is having the most sex with different partners on a state-by-state basis.
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In hopes of getting a better understanding of sexual trends, Superdrug, a U.K.-based health and beauty retailer, asked more than 2,000 individuals (1,058 Americans) extremely personal questions about their sexual past. They found that the average number of sexual partners for Americans is a little higher than in most of the world: 7.2, compared to 7.0 in the United Kingdom and 5.4 in Italy.
But what’s most interesting is that within the United States, there is a huge state-by-state variance when it comes to the number of sexual partners. The most sexually liberal state in the country, according to the survey, is Louisiana, whose residents are averaging almost six times as many sexual partners (15.7) as those residing in the most sexually conservative state, Utah, who take on only 2.6 sexual partners in their lifetime. (The survey notes this is likely due to the high concentration of Mormons residing in Utah, who believe that sex outside of marriage is to be avoided.)
People living in Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Carolina boast an average of more than 10 lovers in their lifetime, while those in Mississippi, Kansas and West Virginia keep their numbers on the lower end of the scale, sleeping with an average of fewer than five people.
It also found — zero shock here — that the honesty factor varies by gender when it comes to answering the “what’s your number?” question to your partner. “When disclosing details to a partner, men are more prone to inflate their number of sexual partners, while women are more likely to report fewer than their true number,” the survey reads.
Obviously, the sample size of this survey was small, and it’s possible some people weren’t exactly honest when it came to revealing their actual number. And when it comes down to it, your exact number is nobody’s business but your own, right?
Not exactly. From a public health standpoint, the amount of people you have slept with may have health repercussions, as the number of reported sexually transmitted diseases seems to rise and fall with the average number of sexual partners. For example, the reported rate of STIs is much higher in Louisiana than it is in Utah. The survey also determined that overall, the higher the amount of partners an individual has, the more at risk they are for an STI. Thirteen percent of those with 15 or more sexual partners disclosed they had been diagnosed with an STI, compared to just 3 percent of those with four or fewer partners.
The moral of the story? To play it safe, no matter how many or how few people you sleep with, always use protection.
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What Do YOU Think?
Do you think someone’s “number” is important? Do you ask your sexual partners how many people they have slept with? Are you surprised the average amount of sexual partners Americans have?
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.