Statistics & Facts - Sweden

Published 2/1/2010 | Updated 2/1/2010

Sex in Sweden – On the Swedish Sexual Life
In 1996 the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) conducted a study of sexual habits in Sweden. The report Sex in Sweden - On the Swedish Sexual Life was published in 2000. The study is a population-based sample study where participants answered standardized questions in an interview and a written questionnaire. Almost 3000 people between age 18 to 74 answered the questionnaire. In the following text we present a sample of the results from the study.

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Total number of sexual partners

(median)
men: 7.1
women: 4.6

For both genders the total number of sexual partners had increased by aprroximately three partners since a similar study conducted in 1967.

The study concluded that nearly all Swedes between 18 to 74 are or will be sexually active. Sexual activity (i.e. sexual intercourse during the past month or the past year) depends on age.

There was a small group of people with experience of a large number of sexual partners. The 10 per cent most active men had had 29 to 800 partners each, for women the figure was 10 to 100 partners.

The study also found that is was not uncommon to have parallel sexual relationships. 38 percent of the men reveal that while married or living with a partner they have also had sex with someone other than their regular partner. Of the women, 23 per cent had had such experiences.

Activities during latest sexual intercourse – men

  • Penis in vagina – 95%
  • Partner stroke my sex organs with his/her hand – 59%
  • I stroke my partner’s sex organs with my hand – 64%
  • Partner stimulated my sex organs with his/her mouth – 26%
  • I stimulated my partner’s sex organs with my mouth – 27%
  • Anal intercourse – 2%
  • I experienced orgasm – 71%
  • My partner experienced orgasm – 59%

Activities during latest sexual intercourse – women

  • Penis in vagina – 94%
  • Partner stroke my sex organs with his/her hand – 72%
  • I stroke my partner’s sex organs with my hand – 67%
  • Partner stimulated my sex organs with his/her mouth – 28%
  • I stimulated my partner’s sex organs with my mouth – 23%
  • Anal intercourse – 1%
  • I experienced orgasm – 61%
  • My partner experienced orgasm – 77%

Relationship with latest sexual partner – men

  • Spouse – 48%
  • Cohabitant – 22%
  • Regular partner – 14%
  • Former partner – 3%
  • Friend – 6%
  • Occasional partner – 5%
  • Prostitute – 0%
  • Other – 1%
  • Not known before – 1%

Relationship with latest sexual partner – women

  • Spouse – 52%
  • Cohabitant – 23%
  • Regular partner – 15%
  • Former partner – 4%
  • Friend – 2%
  • Occasional partner – 1%
  • Prostitute – 0%
  • Other – 1%
  • Not known before – 1%

How people met their latest partner – men

  • Acquaintance – 29%
  • School/Education – 8%
  • Work – 11%
  • Hobby – 6%
  • Bar/Dance – 29%
  • Personal ad – 1%
  • Prostitute – 0%
  • Other – 15%

How people met their latest partner – women

  • Acquaintance – 29%
  • School/Education – 8%
  • Work – 12%
  • Hobby – 6%
  • Bar/Dance – 31%
  • Personal ad – 1%
  • Prostitute – 0%
  • Other – 13%

Love relationship with latest sexual partner

  • Men: 87%
  • Women: 95%

Masturbation

The study found that men masturbate more often than women. Men’s frequency of masturbation was also, unlike the women’s, greatly dependent on whether they had a regular sexual partner or not. Thus, it appears that men use masturbation far more than women do to compensate for the partner-related sexual contacts they do not have. For both genders, masturbation seamed to be a sexual activity in its own value, thus engaging in masturbation regardless of whether nor not they have a sexual relation.

First experience of sexual intercourse

The study found that the age for the first experience of sexual intercourse was getting younger. This process has been more pronounced among women rather than men. One-third of Swedes had their first experience of sexual intercourse before the age of 16. The majority of Swedes had their first experience of sexual intercourse with a partner roughly the same age.

Same sex sexual relationships

The study did not ask people whether they believed themselves being homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, but instead asked whether they had been emotionally and sexually interested in someone of the same sex. Just over 10 per cent of the respondents have fantasized sexually about people of the same sex. 7 per cent could imagine themselves becoming sexually stimulated by people of the same sex. But the result also showed that homosexual attraction and love where far less common than homosexual fantasies. Of all the respondents, 2.3 per cent stated that they had had some form of sexual contact with someone of the same sex.

Reproduction

Swedish women are the world’s oldest first-time mothers. Many are aged 27-28. The study showed that the median age when people became parents was 27 for men and 24 for the women.

Methods/means of contraception on latest occasion of sexual intercourse

  • Condom – 15%
  • Diaphragm – 0.4%
  • Contraceptive pill – 20%
  • Coil – 13%
  • Chemical methods – 0.4%
  • Sterilization – 10%
  • Douche – 0.3%
  • “Safe periods” – 3%
  • Withdrawal method – 13%
  • Other – 5%

Among the age group 25 – 49 roughly one out of four occasion of intercourse takes place without any form of contraception or a desire for a child.

Abortion

On the overall, of the women who had been pregnant, nearly one woman out of two, under the age of 25 has undergone a legal abortion. Of those between the ages of 25 and 49 nearly one woman out of three had had such an experience. 99 per cent of the abortions had been performed in Sweden. The number of second abortions was highest among the age group of 35 – 49. There was a strong connection between the number of sexual partners and the occurrence of abortions. The men and women who had experienced an abortion had had roughly twice as many sexual partners as those who had not experienced abortion. The level of sexual satisfaction and social group affiliation showed no difference in relation to experience of abortion.

Desire for a child

About 4 per cent of the respondents stated that they were trying to conceive during their last sexual intercourse. Among the age group of 25 – 34, almost 10 per cent stated that they had the desire to conceive. Nearly one woman in five, among the age group 25 – 34 had tried for at least six months to conceive but did not succeed.

Sexual disabilities/problems

Women reported more frequently than men on reduced sexual ability and its consequent problems. men felt sexual desire more often than women. Younger respondents desired sex more frequently than older. Reduced sexual desire was twice as common among women as men.

Difficulties in achieving orgasm were the most common sexual problem among women, which was experienced by one woman in five. Three per cent had never achieved an orgasm through intercourse during the past year. For men, premature ejaculation was the most common reduced sexual ability, which occurred most often among the oldest respondents.

Commercial sex

About 13 per cent of Swedish men have at some point paid for sexual service. A majority of these men had paid for sexual contact on one or two occasions. Paying for a sexual service was most common among middle-aged men. Most prostitution took place abroad in connection to a holiday or a business travel.

Pornography was found to be primarily a male concern. One fifth of the women in the study said that they had watched a pornographic film in the past year, most commonly together with a partner.

Sexual transmitted infections (STI)

The study found that one person in nine had had a STI, and of those 9 per cent had had an STI more than once. Most common among these were Chlamydia, gonorrhea and condylona. Those who had had an STI had had an average of 23 partners, as opposed to 8 among those who had never had an STI. Among those who had had an STI, being tested for HIV was three times as common compared with those who had never had an STI. Only 7 per cent stated that they had used some kind of protection against STIs. If those who used condom to prevent pregnancy is to be included, the total condom use is 15 per cent.

12 per cent of the respondents stated that they had been in a sexual situation when they did not stop despite the risk for STIs, whereas 7 per cent stated that they had stopped in a situation where there was a risk for STIs.

Facts and Figures

This booklet produced by Statistics Sweden, presents actual facts, figures and statistics in many different areas such as gender equality, changes in gender equality since the 1970s, population, health, child care and gender-disaggregated salaries, influence and power.

 

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