Safe Sex, Sex Ed

Summer Lovin’: Research Finds That We Have More Sex In The Summer

June 3, 2016 by Justin Lehmiller

Our sexual behavior patterns change with the seasons–and with the shift from spring to summer just around the corner, research suggests that a change in sexual behavior is likely to follow. Specifically, there seems to be a reliable peak in sexual activity during the summer months.

As evidence for this, consider a recent study based on data obtained from patient visits to the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre in Melbourne, Australia between the years 2006-2014. Researchers looked at how diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and patients’ reports of the number of partners they’d had in the past 3 months changed throughout the year.

Regardless of sexual orientation, they found that men and women alike reported having a higher number of recent partners when they visited the clinic during the summer compared to the winter.

Moreover, rates of several STIs were higher in the summer than in the winter. For instance, men who have sex with men had higher odds of being diagnosed with urethral gonorrhea, while men who have sex with women had higher odds of being diagnosed with non-gonococcal urethritis (or NGU, an infection of the urethra most commonly caused by chlamydia).

In women, diagnoses of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) peaked in the autumn. Because PID is most commonly caused by untreated cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, the peak in autumn diagnoses of PID is consistent with higher rates of STIs being contracted in the summer.

What accounts for this seasonal difference in sexual behavior? Unfortunately, we can’t say definitively based on these data; however, one possibility is that it could be a function of people taking more vacations in the summer. This would make sense in light of research finding that there’s a likely link between vacationing and sex.

Regardless of the reason, these findings suggest that public health efforts to promote safer sex could potentially be used to greater effect in the summer than other times of year.

One caveat worth noting: while people typically have less sex in the winter, there is an increase in sexual activity between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Learn more about winter holiday sex in this article.

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To learn more about this research, see: Cornelisse, V. J., Chow, E. P., Chen, M. Y., Bradshaw, C. S., & Fairley, C. K. (2016). Summer heat: A cross-sectional analysis of seasonal differences in sexual behaviour and sexually transmissible diseases in Melbourne, Australia. Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Image Credit: 123RF/zegers06

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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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