Why Are Young People Having Less Sex?

Jun 24, 2021

Sex- it’s a stress reliever, bond builder, energy and mood booster, and even a decent way to get a little cardio in. So why is it that men and women between the ages of 18 – 24 seem to be having sex less often? Well, delayed adulthood, availability of pornography on the internet and elsewhere, and the social stigmas around movements may be at play here. These factors can affect face-to-face relationships in ways that we haven’t seen before, as technology and online dating becomes prevalent. 

Lack Of Sex 

Lack of sex is shown to affect your overall well-being, including your mood and health. Though this decline is being seen in all young adults, younger men seem to be the most prevalent. With internet dating apps, websites that allow subscriptions to their favorite people’s private content, and easy porn access; not to mention the fear of pregnancy, it’s easy to see why actual sex may have taken a dip. 

In the past year, 1 in 3 men between the ages of 18-24 have reported no sexual activity, according to a study that was published in the JAMA Network. Between the years 2000-2002, and again in 2016- 2018, we saw a steep incline in sexual inactivity in men in this age group. However, the percentages for women stayed about the same. It also seems to have declined in both men and women ages 25 – 34 years. 

Why are young people having less sex?

When it comes to the brackets of people who are reporting this sexual decline, the people affected the most have shown to be unmarried men, unemployed or part-time workers, or lower-income men. It can be hard to establish yourself in the dating society regardless of social status, so not having a leg up may be holding many people back. Even those who are having sex seemed to have lost the amount they typically had. 


lack of sex

So what is delayed adulthood, and how does it affect our sex lives?

Delayed adulthood is when a young adult takes longer to progress mentally and otherwise to adulthood. This can mean the lack of living with their partner, still living with their parents, lack of a stable job or education, or a schedule considered normal by the masses. When someone is looking for a partner, they are often looking for more stability than someone who is not yet established or trying to become established in society. Now, we have also seen a steep trend towards less risky behavior since the ’90s, which includes less alcohol, drug use, and criminal activities. It also includes less sex. 

Social and digital media – a distracting force among us.

It’s not just porn that takes away from our sex lives. In fact, people who watch porn, in general, tend to be more sexually active than those who don’t. However, entertainment platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, OnlyFans, and Twitch make up for a lot of screen time daily. This constant and consistent digital consumption can be very distracting, and create a lack of real-life relationships in their day-to-day lives. With so much to do in the evening other than talk to a partner, it’s easy to get caught up in social media, binge-watching shows, or gaming.

Plus, with online dating sites such as Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, and etc, it’s easy to talk and never meet. You would think that having a dating app in hand would make it a lot easier to meet a potential partner, but the reality is that many spend time aimlessly chatting, and never following through to make the effort for a relationship. This lack of human touch and interaction in person or real-time creates ease for abandonment that hasn’t typically been seen in the past.


young people having sex

The #MeToo movement and its effects.

The #MeToo movement was a very needed movement within sexual awakening for women and any person who needs to feel empowered to say yes or no to sex. It has also spurred more fear for those taking part in sexual activities, as there is the thought process that has to go behind every interaction. For some, they may just avoid sexual activity altogether, instead of making the effort to show their partner that their consent matters.

The effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on sex.

With mandatory quarantines (in some countries), social and physical distancing requirements, and the concern of contracting Covid-19, it makes it difficult to be as spontaneously close to someone as we once would have been. This is a short-term item but unfortunately has affected many people in this aspect. Plus, higher stress levels and anxiety levels as a whole make sex less desirable for many, and paired with a pandemic, even less so.

Not everyone WANTS to have sex.

With sexual awareness and liberation at an all-time high, many are realizing that they do not have to have sex with another person to be satisfied. The availability of sex toys, vibrators, and anything you could possibly want to purchase has made life without a partner very simple. Some people find that not having a sexual partner makes their life much easier, as there is no concern of STI transmission, unwanted pregnancy, or even just bad sexual experiences.

Everyone interprets sex differently.

Some may state no sexual activity because they haven’t had intercourse, but have still given or received a blowjob, handjob, or been fingered. Sex has no one true definition, so it is important to also remember that interpretation can be different. The numbers may be completely different if clear, defined boundaries of what is sexual intercourse, sexual activity, etc were actually set in stone there. Sex can be defined as anal sex, penis in vagina sex, oral sex, mutual masturbation, handjobs, blowjobs, fingering, and more. However, every person may consider it something different.

The benefits of lowered sexual encounters.

Though young people having less sex may sound a little disheartening, it’s great to think that the decline of sex also means declines in STI transmission, unwanted pregnancy, cheating, and other things we face as a society.



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