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Q: Sex ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Sex
Category: Relationships and Society > Romance
Asked by: writerpete2006-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 17 Aug 2005 17:35 PDT
Expires: 16 Sep 2005 17:35 PDT
Question ID: 557010
How many men does the typical American woman sleep with before she gets married?

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 17 Aug 2005 20:06 PDT
The most comprehensive report that I know of on this topic is a US
government survey/study known as "A Statistical Portrait of Fathers
and Mothers in America".

The study reports that 11% of adult women in the US -- parents as well
as non-partent -- reported having 2 or more sexual partners in the
past year, and that this percentage has not changed very much in
recent decades.

It's not quite an answer to your question, but it may well be the best
sort of statistical insight that's available on this topic.

Let me know if you would like more details about the government report. 


Clarification of Question by writerpete2006-ga on 17 Aug 2005 21:38 PDT

   Yeah, that's not what I was looking for. My question is about
pre-marital sex. Most women I know have had several sex partners
before marriage. I just want to find ANY study that suggests how many
DIFFERENT sex partners they have before marriage. So I guess the area
to investigate is "pre-marital sex." I would do that myself, but don't
have the time. That's why I turned to you guys. Please give my
question another try in the pre-marital sex area.


Subject: Re: Sex
Answered By: umiat-ga on 18 Aug 2005 14:58 PDT
Hello, writerpete2006-ga!

 I have found a few studies that provide some numbers for the average
number of premarital sexual partners for women in the United States. A
few other studies mention the "total" number of sexual partners during
a women's lifetime, which doesn't imply stricly premarital
relationships, but still provides a good general reference.

 In your clarification, you did say "I just want to find ANY study
that suggests how many DIFFERENT sex partners they have before


 Here is what I have found:


This first study is the most concrete, but is dated! 

From "Current Trends Premarital Sexual Experience Among Adolescent
Women -- United States, 1970-1988." January 04, 1991 /

"In 1988, adolescents who had had sexual intercourse earlier in life
reported greater numbers of sex partners.

* Among 15- to 24-year-olds who initiated sexual intercourse before
age 18, 75% reported having had two or more partners, and 45% reported
having had four or more partners;

* among those who became sexually active after age 19, 20% reported
having had more than one partner, and 1%, four or more partners.

* Among women aged 15-24 years who had been sexually active for the
same length of time ( less than 24 months), 45% of 15- to 17-year-olds
reported having had two or more partners, compared with 40% of 18- to
19-year-olds and 26% of those greater than or equal to 20 years of

Reported by: Family Growth Survey Br, Div of Vital Statistics,
National Center for Health Statistics; Div of STD/HIV Prevention,
Center for Prevention Svcs, CDC.


The following compilation of statistics has some numbers for
premarital sexual partners which may allow you to devise a
semi-realistic average number. You could, I suppose, make the
assumption that for many women, the number of partners posted would
involve those partners before marriage, including her husband.
(whether "affairs" are included in these numbers is anyone's guess, or
partners after death or divorce)


* "According to the Details "Sex on Campus" survey (1996), the average
number of lifetime partners for college men and women is close: 7.2
for men, and 5.7 for women. (Elliott, 17).

* "Recent Glamour reader surveys report even higher numbers of
partners, with the respondents to a 1998 feature reporting a median
number of ten partners (Mansbach, 242); in a 1999 survey, 20 percent
reported at least 20 sex partners. This last survey stands out with
its ambition; it goes beyond lifetime partners to report that a
quarter of respondents have slept with more than one person in the
same night (Boone, 212).

* "In fact, white middle-class college-educated women in their
twenties are widely recognized by researchers to have more sex
partners than any other group of women; the 1995 National Survey of
Family Growth reports that women in these three categories (of race,
income and education) have the highest proportions of four or more
partners over their lifetimes (39).


Again, the number that follows may not be entirely "pre-marital" partners:

From "Primetime Live Poll: American Sex Survey: A Peek Beneath the
Sheets Analysis," By GARY LANGER, with CHERYL ARNEDT and DALIA
SUSSMAN. October 21, 2004.

"Overall, women report an average of six sex partners in their
lifetimes; men, 20. But a better gauge of sexual activity for most
people is the median, the midpoint between the high and low: Women
report a median of three sex partners; men, a median of eight."


From "Premarital Sex, Premarital Cohabitation, and the Risk of
Subsequent marital Dissolution Among Women," by Jay Teachman. Journal
of Marriage and Family: Vol. 65, No. 2, pp.444-455.

(You will need to scroll partway down to the beginning of the article)

 "Recent data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth indicate
that premarital sex and marriage are linked for a nontrivial
proportion of women (Abma et al., 1997 ). Among ever-married women who
have had premarital sex, nearly 15% experienced first intercourse
within 12 months of marriage and more than 25% had first sex with
their husband. In addition, about 25% of all women who have had sex
have had only one partner in their lifetime, most often their


The Teen Aid Inc, website has a chart correlating the age of first
sexual experience with the number of life partners. It "might" be
somewhat helpful.

See chart - "Age of First Intercourse and Number of Life Partners."


Additional statistics that might be of interest, though they do not
provide an answer to your very specific question:

See "Alternatives to Marriage Project." 


From the Family and Society Database:

Finding: "Women who begin sexual activity at early ages have far
higher turnover rates among sexual partners (i.e. number of voluntary
sexual partners per year of sexual activity.) Girls who begin sexual
activity at age 13 or 14 have, on average, 1.2 partners per year of
sex activity. By contrast, women who begin sex activity at ages 21-22
have 0.3 sex partners per year of sexual activity. Thus, women who
become sexually active at ages 13-14 have a partner turnover rate four
times higher than those who initiate sex activity in their early

Sample or Data Description - 10,000 women between the ages of 15 and
44 who participated in the National Survey of Family Growth sponsored
by the Center for Disease Control of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (1995).

Source - "The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple
Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts." Rector, Robert E.
Heritage Foundation Working Paper Vol. 1, Number . June, 2003. Page(s) 5. 


 While there are many studies concerning premarital sex, there are
very few containing concrete numbers of sex partners for women before

 I truly hope that the few studies I did find prove to be an
acceptable answer to your question. Apparently, they are the only
numbers that appear to be readily available at the present time!



Search Strategy

women AND sexual partners before marriage
woman AND premarital sex
statistics AND number of partners AND premarital sex
statistics on women and premarital sex AND number of sex partners
women AND sex partners before marriage
women AND number of sex partners before marriage
average woman has had * sexual partners before marriage

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 18 Aug 2005 19:54 PDT
I totally agree with the comment posted below by Myoarin. In fact,
most all studies are skewed to a great degree, either by the
population represented, the numbers of participants, and the specific
generation surveyed! I imagine you are already aware of the very
"general" nature of these studies, Peter, and will treat them as
something less than scientific fact!

 To further clarify this point, I ran across a very interesting
"discovery" when researching this question. The presence of a fake lie
detector can greatly influence how women respond to questions about
sexual partners!

 Have a look:

From "Fake lie-detector reveals women's sex lies," by Shaoni Bhattacharya July 2003.

 "Women's coyness about their sexual behaviour was unveiled by a US
study involving a fake lie detector test."

 "Women change their answers depending on whether or not they believe
they will be caught out not telling the truth, the researchers found.
The number of sexual partners a woman reported nearly doubled when
women thought they were hooked up to a lie detector machine."
Subject: Re: Sex
From: myoarin-ga on 18 Aug 2005 19:09 PDT
Although Umiat-ga has not mentioned it, I expect he or she would agree
that the source and form of response to some statistics can influence
the figures.

The survey of readers of Glamour magazine  - with the highest average
numbers - stands out:  first, the readers are a subsection of the
population which is not necessarily representative of the whole
population; second, if the response to the survey was voluntary, a
second subset of women with a personal interest in the subject occurs.
 It is easy to suspect that they would be more sexually active than
readers who did not.


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