Sex in Europe

In keeping with this year's Concatenation appearing in three different European language editions, we are pleased to report on European sex.

Sex is of major biological importance as a driver of evolution and this is reflected in its social and cultural importance. In addition human sexual activity has demographic and biomedical relevance and so is an important area of study. Despite this, reliable data on sexual behaviour is hard to come by, in the main due to a plethora of taboos. Witness the UK government's lack of willingness to fund a sexual survey of the UK a few years ago despite its purpose to help combat sexually transmitted diseases: fortunately the charitable organization the Wellcome Trust stepped in to the breach. That survey revealed that the sexual behaviour, of those in the sexually active age groups, was varied ranging from celibacy through to promiscuity: there is no one 'normal' mode of behaviour despite what the media, advertising agencies etc., try to tell us. However some types of behaviour are more common than others. For instance heterosexuality is more common than homosexuality, but the most common trait -- more common than even hetero and homosexuality -- is the reporting of sexual behaviour. Men tend to claim that they are more sexually active than they really are, while women under-report.

Of course sex also has a commercial value. No firm is aware of this more than the World's only global condom brand 'Durex', which is why Durex commissioned an international survey of sexual behaviour in 15 countries. This survey found that in Britain the average age for loss of virginity is 16.7 years; the British on average loose their virginity the earliest in Europe. The next youngest were the French (17 years) with the Spanish (18.2 years) being the oldest.

However the British, with 124 sexual encounters a year, are less sexually active than the French (128) or Germans (127). The Spanish are the least active, with an average of 71 times a year.

With regard to sexual priorities, some 47% of British cited their partner's needs as top priority in lovemaking, compared with 20% worrying about AIDS, 4% concerned with other sexually transmitted diseases, and 10% wanting to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. A further 19% placed their own sexual satisfaction first.

The Americans have the leading international reputation for practising safer sex, with the French second, the British third, and the Germans fourth. However this was for reputation only, and not the reality. Surprisingly Thailand was top by a large margin for actually practising safer sex despite coming close to the bottom of the perception table. France was second while the UK came in at eighth.

Most nations throughout the World consider themselves the best lovers, but the Germans chose the French instead, as did the Polish and the Russians. This gives the French as having the reputation of being the World's best lovers, followed by the Italians and the Americans. The British came sixth equal to the Germans, while those most considered least Romantic were the Polish.

The survey confirms that women have fully taken onboard the sexual revolution. Not only are they generally as sexually active as men on average, but they are more selfish about their own needs. Just 29% of females throughout the World placed their partners' satisfaction as the top priority, compared with 38% of males.

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