Intended for healthcare professionals


British women are engaging in greater variety of sexual practices

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 26 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7087
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Great Britain is becoming more accepting of sexual diversity, and women in particular are now more open to participating in more diverse sexual behaviours, especially well educated and wealthier women, show the latest results of the largest survey of sexual attitudes and behaviour in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Over the past 20 years women have become four times more likely to have had a same sex sexual encounter, and they now have on average more than twice the number of sexual partners in their lifetime than they did in 1990.

Narrowing of the gap between the sexes in sexual views and behaviours is not the only change that has taken place since the first National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) survey was conducted in 1990-1. The latest results of the survey, which takes place every 10 years, were published in six research papers and a commentary in the Lancet on Tuesday ( They show that people in Britain are having sex less often, because they are less likely to be living with their sexual partner and because of the pressure of modern life.

Over 15 000 adults aged 16-74 years were interviewed in England, Scotland, and Wales between September 2010 and August 2012 about their sexual behaviour, attitudes, and health and wellbeing for the third Natsal study.

Commenting on the reduction in the frequency of sex—from more than …

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