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Study opens a window into Germans' bedrooms

August 24, 2017

Do men have more sexual partners than women? How many Germans cheat on their partners? What percentage of men have visited a prostitute? A new study answers everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.

Sexualität Partnerschaft Symbolbild
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Wuestenhagen

According to a study published in the German medical magazine Deutsches Ärzteblatt, German men have as twice as many partners as German women. However, researchers believe the statistical difference is more likely due to German men's propensity to exaggerate and boast about their sex lives rather than their seduction skills.

Researchers based their results on a sample of more than 2,524 people aged 14 and over. They found German men said they had sex with an average of 10 people. German women, meanwhile, said they had sex with five people.

"They act out their gender roles," said Arne Dekker from the University Hospital in Hamburg's Institute for Sexual Research and Forensic Psychiatry. Dekker, who was not involved in the study, added that some men think it's attractive and the social norm to have many partners, while women find the opposite.

Another factor that could explain the difference: 8 percent of men surveyed revealed that they had at some point visited prostitutes. The average man in this group had sex with four different prostitutes. 

When it comes to infidelity, the number of men having affairs also outweighs the number women. Twenty-one percent of male respondents told researchers that they had cheated on their partners, compared to the 15 percent of women who admitted to being unfaithful.

Low proportion of homosexuals in Germany

When it came to sexual orientation, the vast majority of men (86 percent) and women (82 percent) identified as heterosexual, while 5 percent of men and 8 percent of women said they had homosexual relations at some point. By contrast, just 1 percent of men and women said they had never slept with a person of the opposite sex.

Read more: Hate crimes against homosexuals on the rise in Germany

Notably, some respondents told the researchers they didn't identify with any of the given categories for sexual orientation.

The young and the restless

The study revealed few surprises when it came to sexual activity by age group. The most sexually active were 25 to 29-year-olds. Men in this age bracket claimed to have heterosexual intercourse 60 times per year on average, while for women the number 47 times.

That number sinks as the age group rises. Men aged 50 to 59 said they have sex 34 times per year, women 22 times.

German approaches to contraception

Roughly half of respondents (57 percent) said they were in a relationship with a single partner at the time of the survey. Of those, 76 percent said they did not use condoms.

When it comes to taking the pill or other oral contraceptives, 51 percent of women aged 50 or younger said they did so.

Read more: Free prescribed contraception for low-earners

Five percent of those surveyed said they avoided contraception altogether as they said they were trying for a child.

The 'high risk' group

Researchers also singled out the 2.5 percent of people whose sexual behavior should cause worry. Members of the so-called "high risk group" included people who admitted to having unprotected sex both with their partner and outside of their relationship.

The average number of sexual partners among this group was also more than three times higher than the overall average, with men claiming to have had 38 partners and women 17.

Researchers strongly advised those within the "high risk" to receive routine checks to avoid getting infected and ultimately spreading sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, gonorrhea and syphilis.

Help! My vibrator is spying on me!

dm/sms (dpa, Deutsches Ärzteblatt)