Why have sex?BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7286.623 (Published 10 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:623
- Judith Longstaff Mackay, physician and author of The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior.
- Hong Kong
It started as a comment that a sex atlas was needed as one of a series of atlases, covering health, social, and political issues, some of which I had written. I have never been allowed to forget my reply: “I don't know much about sex, but I do know how to write atlases.”
I had no idea that it would take me five years to research statistics on sex worldwide or that it would be so difficult. In contrast to health statistics, there is no central depository for global sex information. In most countries there are few sexology institutes or specialists, and only a handful of countries have comprehensive statistics.
In some countries laws relating to sex may be disregarded—for example, parental decisions can override the legal minimal age of marriage. Sex research, where it exists, is usually fertility related rather than sex oriented. Even definitions vary. There is no agreed definition of sex …