The average number of sexual partners depends on many factors: age range, country, gender, and sexuality, to name a few. Find out ALL recent trends & stats here.
Have you ever wondered how many sexual partners the average person in the US and other countries has had in their lifetime? Well, as it turns out, many are curious about this topic, so we’ve done some digging for you.
In this article, we’ll look at various studies that reveal fascinating insights into the average number of lifetime sexual partners.
It’s important to note that the average varies depending on three major factors—country, age range, and gender. For example, in the U.S., men have more partners than women across all age groups.
If you’re ready to jump right in, here are a few statistics to help you understand this exciting topic.
Top Multiple Sexual Partners Statistics You Should Know
- The average number of sexual partners was 9 in 2005.
- The average number of sexual partners among men was 6, and 4.3 among women.
- Turkey (14.5) posted the highest average number of sexual partners globally, while India (3) recorded the lowest.
- 9.3% of college students reported having 4 or more sexual partners in 2017.
- Having an average of 15.2 sexual partners is too promiscuous for women and 14 for men.
Table of Contents
Lifetime Average Number of Sexual Partners Among Men And Women
It is probably not surprising that most people in the world have been with more than one sexual partner in their lifetime. This applies to both women and men and has been statistically proven to be true.
- The global average number of sexual partners is 9. (Statista, 2005)1
A 2021 research indicates a noticeable gender difference between men and women in their tendencies to have more than one sexual relationship with the opposite sex in their lifetime.
Overall, men tend to have more lifetime sexual partners than women. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)2
- Men have an average of 6.3 sexual partners while women have 4.3 sexual partners
- 12.9% of female and 28.3% of male respondents revealed having 15 or more partners
- 11.6% of female and 12.5% of male respondents revealed having 10-14 partners
- 28.6% of female and 25.8% of male respondents revealed having 5-9 partners
- 29.2% of female and 22.3% of male respondents revealed having 2-4 partners
- 17.7% of female and 11.2% of male respondents revealed having only 1 partner
It may be hard to believe that sexual trends have remained essentially unchanged over the past years despite the boom of online dating.
Interestingly, there were neither significant decreases nor increases in the average number of sexual partners of men and women aged 25 to 44 from 2002 to 2015.
- 2002: American men reported having an average of 6.7 sexual partners, while women averaged 3.8 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)2
- 2006 to 2010: men averaged 6.0, while women averaged 3.9 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)2
- 2011 to 2015: men averaged 6.1, while women averaged 4.2 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)2
- In 2013, the highest average number of sexual partners among British men was 12.6 and 7.7 for women (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2013)3
The same trend goes for the percentage of men and women aged 15-44 who have had 15 or more sexual partners over the said period. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)2
- 2002: 23.2% of men and 9.2% of women
- 2006 to 2010: 21.6% of men and 9.0% of women
- 2011 to 2015: 21.1% of men and 10.1% of women
Countries With the Highest Average Numbers of Sexual Partners
The average number of sexual partners varies depending on where a person lives. We took a look at stats from around the globe and identified what they were per country.
In 2005, the people from the following countries recorded the highest average numbers of sexual partners: (Statista, 2005)1
- Turkey with 14.5
- Australia with 13.3
- New Zealand with 13.2
- Iceland with 13
- South Africa with 12.5
This study presents a stark contrast between societies that have adopted liberal views on sexual intercourse and its practice and those that remain to uphold conservative sexual ideals.
Conversely, the following countries recorded the lowest averages:
- India with 3
- China with 3.1
- Vietnam with 3.2
- Hong Kong with 3.7
- Indonesia with 5.1
A similar study in 2017 listed the following countries as having the highest averages in Europe: (Superdrug, 2017)4
- United Kingdom with 7
- Netherlands with 6.9
- Italy with 5.4
- Belgium with 5.41
- Germany with 6.2
Average Number of Sexual Partners in the U.S.
A 2017 survey indicates that the average number of sexual partners among Americans is below the global average. However, another study in 2021 suggests that it is higher.
- The average in 2017 was 7.2 (Superdrug, 2017)4
- The average in 2021 was 14.8 (Bespoke Surgical, 2021)5
Average Number of Sexual Partners in the U.S. by State
You are probably wondering what the states with the highest average number of sexual partners. To get the answer, we turn to a 2017 study published by Superdrug.
- Lousiana with 15.7
- Oklahoma, Nebraska, and South Carolina with 10 each
- Kansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia with 5 each (Superdrug, 2017)4
In 2021, the following topped Bespoke Surgical’s list of states in the U.S. with the highest averages. (Bespoke Surgical, 2021)5
- Washington with 54.8
- Connecticut with 31.0
- New Mexico with 20.8
- Wisconsin with 19.4
- Arkansas with 18.9
- Georgia with 18.6
- Maryland with 18.4
- Kansas with 17.8
- Michigan with 17.6
- Florida with 15.1
On the other hand, here are the states with the lowest averages:
- Pennsylvania with 8.6
- South Carolina with 8.6
- Colorado with 8.6
- Illinois with 8.7
- Arizona with 9.2
- Mississippi with 9.2
- New Jersey with 9.3
- Indiana with 9.4
- Ohio with 9.7
- Oregon with 10.0
Average Number of Lifetime Sexual Partners by Age Group
The average number of sexual partners people say they’ve had in their lifetime varies significantly by age.
In their twenties, most men (65.3%) and women (67.9%) become more exploratory and engage in sexual relationships with more than one person. This can be a defining moment in their lives as they try to figure out what they want from relationships. (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2021)6
- 0-1 sexual partners: 72% (1,592) of women and 70.5% (1,581) of men aged 15-19
- 2-4 sexual partners: 30.9% (605) of women aged 30-34 and 25.6% of men aged 25-29 (427)
- 5-9 sexual partners: 29.5% (504) of women aged 25-29 and 24.7% (33) of men aged 40-44
- 10-39 sexual partners: 20.1% (437) of women aged 30-34 and 34.2% (522) of men aged 35-39
- More than 40 sexual partners: 2.3% (44) of women aged 40-44 and 8.8% (132) of men aged 30-35
Another research suggests that women across all age groups are more likely to stick with one sexual partner than men.
The majority of respondents aged 25 and above reported only having one sexual partner from 2016 to 2018. (JAMA Network, 2020)7
- 0 sexual partner:
- 1 sexual partner:
- 2 sexual partners:
- 3 or more sexual partners:
Average Number of Lifetime Sexual Partners of Students
High school and college life are a period of exploration, a time to try new things and find out who you are, how you fit into the world, and who you are as a sexual being.
Having a sexual relationship with more than one person at a time is not uncommon among high school and college students.
- 23.4% of male students in the 9th to 12th grade revealed having at least four sex partners in their lifetime (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998)8
- 9.3% of college students reported that they had 4 or more sexual partners in 2017 (American College Health Association, 2018)9
- 5.1% of college students reported that they had 3 sexual partners in 2017 (American College Health Association, 2018)9
- 8.8% of college students reported that they had 2 sexual partners in 2017 (American College Health Association, 2018)9
- 44.2% of college students reported that they had 1 sexual partner in 2017 (American College Health Association, 2018)9
- 32.5% of college students reported that they had no sexual partner in 2017 (American College Health Association, 2018)9
Where Do People Draw the Line?
The definition of “too promiscuous” varies from person to person. We have our own idea about what’s acceptable for us and what isn’t, which can change over time. (Superdrug, 2017)4
- Having an average of 15.2 sexual partners is too promiscuous for women and 14 for men
- Having an average of 1.9 sexual partners is too conservative for women and 2.3 for men.
For some people, having sex with multiple partners is completely fine; for others, it’s unthinkable. Some people would even break up with a partner who has had many sexual partners, whether they’ve been unfaithful or not. (Superdrug, 2017)4
- 9% reported that they’d “very likely” end the relationship
- 21% would “somewhat likely” end the relationship
- 33% were “neutral”
- 20% would “somewhat unlikely” end the relationship
- 17% would “very unlikely” end the relationship
In contrast, fewer people are inclined to end a relationship with a partner with too few past sexual partners. (Superdrug, 2017)4
- 2% reported that they’d “very likely” end the relationship
- 6% would “somewhat likely” end the relationship
- 22% were “neutral”
- 15% would “somewhat unlikely” end the relationship
- 55% would “very unlikely” end the relationship
Research confirms that people are interested in finding mates with a bit of past sexual experiences, but not too much. (ResearchGate, 2016)10
- People are less likely to engage in a relationship with a partner who has had more than three sexual partners
- People are less likely to engage in a relationship with a partner who has had no experience in sex than with someone who has had one sexual partner
What Are People’s Ideal Body Count for Their Partner?
You can have a lot or only a few sexual partners, and that’s okay. However, the number of sexual partners you have had can be an issue when engaging in romantic relationships (The Latch, 2021).11 Let’s look at what experts and researchers say.
- Research in 2017 indicates that the ideal average lifetime number of past sexual partners according to men is 7.5, and 7.6 for women (Superdrug, 2017)4
- Another study indicates that the ideal number is 2 or 3 (ResearchGate, 2016)10
Do People Lie About Their Body Count?
There’s a good chance you have lied about your number of past sexual partners to your significant other. Even if you haven’t, we can all agree that it’s not always easy sharing this information. We sometimes feel that being honest would cause you to lose the relationship.
- 32% of Americans have lied about their number of sexual partners to their significant other
- 21% of Americans lied because they thought their partner would judge them
- 17% fabricated a closer number to their partner’s body count
- 48% of those who lied admitted that they’d be worried about their partner’s reaction
(SWNS Digital, 2020)12
Should People Tell Their Body Count to Their Partners?
Before dating someone new, there’s always a big decision to make. Is it better to tell them you have had multiple sexual partners or not?
When do people typically share this information with their significant other? (Superdrug, 2017)4
- 1 to 4 months: 36.3% of women and 35.3% of men
- Within the first month: 31.2% of women and 33.8% of men
- 5 to 8 months: 13.9% of women and 13.2% of men
- 9 to 12 months: 3.9% of women and 3.8% of men
- Over 12 months: 3.8% of women and 2.6% of men
- Never: 10.9% of women and 11.3% of men
Your sexual history is a natural topic of conversation in the first three to six months of the relationship. So be prepared to disclose it by this point if you intend to be an honest partner.
- A third of respondents disclosed their body count within six months of the relationship
- 40% shared their body count in the first three months
(SWNS Digital, 2020)12
Do People Do This for Love or the Social Norm?
Sexual activity is a rite of passage for adolescents. They do it because they want to feel more independent, explore their bodies and find their identities.
That said, many factors may influence sexual behavior, and the number of sexual partners adolescents accumulate until they become adults.
- Subjective and descriptive social norms from parents, peers, and schoolmates during adolescence can affect a person’s accumulation of sexual partners from early adolescence through early adulthood. (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2013)13
Research and statistical data prove that most people, whether male or female, young or old, just aren’t interested in having sex with only one partner throughout their lives.
As you’re reading this, you might be asking yourself whether or not having more than one sexual partner is right for you. Maybe you feel confused about what it means for your relationship with your partner or with yourself as a person. Or maybe you are feeling anxious about how this may impact your self-esteem.
It’s entirely up to you whether or not you want to have multiple sexual relationships in your lifetime. Having multiple sexual partners can be risky, but it’s also rewarding, especially if the relationships are healthy and respectful.
For more interesting sex studies and statistics, head over to our guide here.
- Statista, 2005. A survey of 317,000 respondents on the average number of sexual partners in selected countries worldwide
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021. 2015-2019 survey of 12,571 American respondents aged 25-49.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2013. A study of 26,274 British respondents
- Superdrug, 2017. A survey of 2,000 American and European respondents on the average number of sexual partners in the U.S. and Europe
- Bespoke Surgical, 2021. A survey of 3,151 American respondents on the average number of sexual partners by state
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2021. A survey of 22,682 American respondents on the average number of sexual partners by age group
- JAMA Network, 2020. A survey of 9,749 American respondents on the average number of sexual partners by age group
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998. A survey of 37,515 American students on Trends in Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students from 1991 to 1997
- American College Health Association, 2018. A survey of 88,178 American respondents for the National College Health Assessment
- ResearchGate, 2016. A study on sexual history and present attractiveness based on a survey of 188 U.K. heterosexual respondents
- The Latch, 2021. An article on the ideal body count for sexual partners
- SWNS Digital, 2020. Survey of 2,000 Americans on how many people lie to their significant others about the total number of their past sexual partners
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2013. A survey of 14,797 American youth on the average number of sexual partners from adolescence to early adulthood.