How often do couples around the globe have sex? Is this related to how they use contraception? These were the questions a team of US researchers had on their minds when they set out to explore the link between sex and birth control.
The team looked at data on no fewer than 210,000 women from low- and middle-income countries around the world, all of whom were married or living with their partner. The women were asked all sorts of questions. But the researchers were most interested in two things: whether they’d had intercourse in the past four weeks, and if they were using contraception.
Once they had the answers to those questions, the researchers analysed the data to find out whether there is indeed a link between contraception and how much sex a couple has.
Free to enjoy
Women who use contraception are three times more likely to have regular intercourse with their partners, the researchers learned. Ninety per cent of the women in the study who used some form of birth control had had sex over the past four weeks. That’s compared to 72 per cent of those who weren’t using protection.
The explanation looks pretty obvious. If you’re worried about getting pregnant when you don’t want to, you’re likely to avoid having sex. Take away the worry, and you’re free to enjoy lots of sex!
Just because couples have easy access to contraception doesn’t mean they’ll start getting it on more often with their partners. But having the choice to use contraception allows couples to separate sexual pleasure from pregnancy, says the study’s lead researcher Suzanne Bell.
A boost for worldwide sex!
Of course, for some women, not using protection could be a choice and not a question of not being able to access it. For example, some may worry about the side effects of hormone-based birth control. And other women simply might not be having a lot of sex to begin with and thus see no need for contraception.
More studies need to be done before researchers know if couples who can get contraception whenever they want will have more sex as a result. According to Bell, making contraception easily available 'could mean good things for the sex lives of men and women worldwide'.
Reference: Better access to contraception means more sex for married couples – research presented at the International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.