Safe Sex, Sex Ed

The Seasons of Sex: A Look at Sex Trends in December

December 23, 2016 by Justin Lehmiller

Generally speaking, people have more sex in the summer than they do in the winter [1]—however, it turns out that December is the exception to the winter sex slump. Evidence from multiple studies shows that sexual activity appears to rise this month, especially in that week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Consider this:

· Research has found that more babies are conceived in December than in any other month of the year [2]. Consistent with this trend, other research has shown that the birth rate peaks in the third quarter of each year [3].

· Doctors have reported that December is the month when the most men show up seeking treatment for sex injuries–specifically, penile fractures [4]. Ouch.

· Other studies have shown that there’s a massive peak in condom sales during the week of Christmas [3]. However, despite that increase in condom sales, this same study suggests that people are contracting the most sexually transmitted infections at this time of year. As evidence of this, patients seek more STI tests and are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI in the first quarter of each year.

If people are buying more condoms in December, wouldn’t that prevent a subsequent rise in STIs? Not necessarily. Remember that just because people are buying condoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re using them, or that they’re using them correctly. Also, although more condoms are being sold, it’s not necessarily the case that everyone who would benefit from using them is buying them.

Together, all of this research suggests that people are having more sex in December. It’s not just that, though—it seems that people may also be having more unprotected sex and, ahem, more adventurous sex (hence the peak in sex injuries).

In light of this, while I certainly do hope that you enjoy yourself this holiday season, please do be sure to take care of yourself and your partners!

May your holidays be happy, sexy, and safe.

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[1] 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.

[2] Tita, A. T., Hollier, L. M., & Waller, D. K. (2001). Seasonality in conception of births and influence on late initiation of prenatal care. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 97(6), 976-981.

[3] 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.

[4] Phillips, E. A., Esposito, A. J., & Munarriz, R. (2015). Acute penile trauma and associated morbidity: 9‐year experience at a tertiary care center. Andrology, 3(3), 632-636.

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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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