Sex Ed

‘Tis The Season For… Risky Sex?

December 18, 2014 by Justin Lehmiller

Research has found that one of the biggest seasonal peaks in sexual activity occurs around the winter holidays. This makes sense because this time of year offers more opportunities for sex than usual. Part of the reason for this is because many people end up taking extended vacations—but another reason is because people attend a lot of holiday parties that seem to get them in the mood for more than just eggnog. For instance, a recent national U.S. survey by Trojan Condoms and Harris Interactive revealed that 24% of Americans reported hooking-up as a result of an office holiday party at least once before. However, it is important to recognize that while people may be having more sex over the winter holidays, they aren’t necessarily practicing safer sex.

Consider this: a study of 7 years of national trends in England and Wales found that a higher than usual number of unplanned conceptions occurred in the month of December [1]. Consistent with this finding, the researchers also found that the abortion rate typically peaks in the first quarter of each year and that the birth rate among unmarried women peaks in the third quarter of each year.

In addition, this study revealed consistent peaks in diagnoses of several sexually transmitted infections during the first quarter of each year, including chlamydia, herpes, trichomoniasis, and syphilis. Sexual health clinics reported offering the most HIV tests in the first quarter as well. Together, all of these findings suggest that there is a peak in risky sexual practices that occurs in the month of December that may have implications for a range of sexual health outcomes.

With this in mind, do yourself and all of your partners a favor this holiday season and be prepared to “wrap up” for whatever sexual opportunities might arise.

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[1] Wellings, K., Macdowall, W., Catchpole, M., & Goodrich, J. (1999). Seasonal variations in sexual activity and their implications for sexual health promotion. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 92, 60-64.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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