Sexual Concurrency

Christine Whelan | Posted on 04/12/10

My former colleague, Tony Paik, at the University of Iowa, has an article in the current issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health -- and his findings should give us pause.

  • One-third of sexual relationships lack exclusivity
  • 1 in 10 men and women reported that both they and their partner had slept with other people
  • Those in "friends with benefits" situations were much more likely to have multiple partners

He told BusinessWeek:

People can make their own choices, but we hope this information will be useful as they weigh the risks and rewards of nonromantic sexual relationships... We encourage people to be aware of the potential for sexual concurrency and take appropriate precautions to avoid sexually transmitted infections.

And this, my friends, is yet another reason why we need to vaccinate children for HPV (and every other possible STD) before they become sexually active.

Two more interesting factoids:

  • In his study, Prof. Paik found that people who got along with each other's parents were less likely to have had multiple sexual partners during their relationship. Social ties matter. And we're less likely to do reckless things when we have a whole relationship network to lose, perhaps.
  • BusinessWeek and the campus paper at the University of Iowa were the only ones who picked up the story for more than a week. USA Today did a piece Saturday. But most of the coverage has been international - India, Argentina, Indonesia, Russia ... but no one else in the U.S. is interested in this? Why?
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