The Swedish Public Health Agency's report on the current state of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Sweden revealed that nearly 80 percent of both men and women have had sex at least “a few times” during the past year, while 16 percent of women and 17 percent of men report having sex several times per week.
While many news reports on Tuesday, including The Local's, focused on the high rates of sexual harassment and sexual assault, the study took a broad look at the sex lives of Swedes, including their porn habits, willingness to pay for sex and contraceptive use.
Here are a few key takeaways:
Active and satisfying sex life
The vast majority of respondents said that sex is an important part of their lives and that they are satisfied with the amount of sex they get. Around a third of both men and women have sex at least a few times per month, while another third are even busier and say they have sex at least once a week.
The most sexually-satisfied groups were women and men between the ages of 30 and 44, while those reporting the most dissatisfaction were young men aged 16 to 29 and both men and women aged 65 to 84.
Male survey respondents were more likely than their female counterparts to report that they are without a sex partner and also more likely to say they wish they had more sex partners. Swedish men also reported problems performing, with 18 percent saying they ejaculated prematurely and another 17 percent reporting that they have a problem maintaining an erection, a number that went up with age.
One-fifth of Swedish women reported that they experienced a decreased interest in sexual desire, while one third of women said they occasionally lacked interest in sex.
As a whole, women were more likely than men to report a lack of pleasure during sex and a lack of orgasms.
Women in control?
While the study showed that women and men largely agreed that they and their partner equally decided when and where to have sex, it was more common for men to report that their partner was in control, while more women than men said that they “often feel free to take sexual initiatives”.
The study also found that women were more likely than men to say that they feel comfortable saying no to sex. However, women were almost twice as likely than men to have sex when they did not really want to.
“A majority of the population have good sexual health, which of course is a positive result. At the same time, sexuality and people's sex lives differ, sometimes a lot, between women and men,” the report read.
“For example, women more often experience low sex drive because of fatigue and stress compared to men. There are strong norms in our society regarding sex and sexuality, and gender roles, norms regarding femininity and masculinity, and norms regarding heterosexuality affect to what extent people feel free to live their lives as they see best.”
Watching and paying for sex
While the report found that “many women and men of all ages use the internet for sex-related activities such as looking for information, reading sexually arousing texts, or looking for a partner”, there is a massive gender gap when it comes to online porn.
Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of men say they watch pornography, while nearly the same number of women (68 percent) say they never watch porn. Porn use is highest among young men, with 41 percent of respondents aged 16 to 29 saying that they consume pornography “on a daily basis or almost on a daily basis”.
“Our results also show an association between frequent pornography consumption and poorer sexual health, and an association with transactional sex, too high expectations of one's sexual performance, and dissatisfaction with one's sex life,” the report said.
The report also found that “to pay or in other ways reimburse someone in exchange for sex is mainly a male phenomenon”. While almost ten percent of men said they had paid for sex, either with money or gifts, the number for women was less than one percent. Of those Swedish men who paid for sex, 80 percent of them did it while on holiday abroad. Just one percent of men and 1.5 percent of women said they had received payment for sex, although those numbers were higher in the LGBT community.
Contraceptives and reproductive health
Just three percent of male and female respondents between the ages of 16 and 44 said they did not use any contraceptive method while in a sexual relationship. Condom use was the most common form of contraception among women aged 16 to 44, followed by birth control pills.
A third of all women surveyed reported that they have had at least one abortion, a figure that the Public Health Agency said has remained largely stable since the 1970s. Around a third of all women have also suffered a miscarriage.
While most respondents said they were happy with the number of children they have, around three percent reported that they are involuntarily childless.