In February, Elle and MSNBC.com asked readers to talk about sex in our exclusive online survey. Specifically, we wanted to find out about sex in long-term relationships. Does it sizzle or fizzle once infatuation fades?
Over two weeks, 77,895 readers, half women and half men, completed the survey. Nine out of 10 respondents were in a monogamous relationship. Here are the intimate details they shared about their personal lives:
How often do you have sex? Most men and women said they have sex once or twice a week. Yet, taking all their answers into account, men think they’re having less sex than women: Men said they have sex a median of 5.5 times a month while women said 8.4 times. Two percent of respondents in a relationship said they were not having sex, and another 2 percent said they have sex more than once a day.
Who wants more sex? Sixty-six percent of men said that they want more sex than their partner, yet only 38 percent of women said their male partner wants more sex than they do.
How satisfied are you with your sex life? Forty-six percent of women but only 32 percent of men said they’re “very satisfied” with their sex life. Twenty-three percent of men compared with only 13 percent of women said they’re "very dissatisfied." As many women — right up to the age of 65 — said they're "very satisfied" as men ages 18 to 24.
Are you satisfied with the variety of sex? Three-quarters of women yet just half of men are satisfied with the variety of positions and activities in their love-making. Overall, 68 percent of respondents said their sex life is predictable.
What boosts your sexual satisfaction? For men, the best predictors of sexual satisfaction were changing sexual positions, receiving oral sex and deep kissing. For women, the best predictors were deep kissing, gentle kissing and changing positions.
Do you feel desired by your partner? Fifty-three percent of men versus 37 percent of women said they felt more desired by their partner in the earlier days of their relationship.
Do you have as much passion in your sex life now as when you first started having sex with your partner? Seventy percent of those together one year said they have retained their passion, compared with 58 percent of those together two years, 45 percent of those together three to five years, and 34 percent of those together six or more years.
What have you done to spice up your sex life in the last year? Sixty-four percent of respondents said they used massage, 59 percent bathed together, 59 percent used lingerie, 54 percent tried a new sexual position, 41 percent went on a romantic getaway, 40 percent used a vibrator, 37 percent watched porn, 34 percent talked about or acted out sexual fantasies, 23 percent had anal sex, 22 percent had sex in public, 21 percent integrated food into sex (e.g. chocolate sauce, whipped cream), 18 percent tried light S&M (e.g. restraints, spanking), 14 percent videotaped themselves having sex or posed for pictures in the nude, and 5 percent engaged in a threesome.
How long did sex last during your most recent encounter? On average, 30 minutes when it's dark and there's no sexy talk (e.g. commenting on a partner's body or how something feels); 49 minutes when it's dark and there is sexy talk; 48 minutes when the lights are dim, music is playing and there is no sexy talk; 53 minutes when the lights are dim, music is playing and there is sexy talk.
Do you wish sex lasted longer? Forty-one percent of men compared to 28 percent of women wished their last sexual contact had been longer.
Was the TV on the last time you were in the sack? Yes, said one in five respondents.
How often do you orgasm? Two-thirds of female respondents said they always or almost always reach climax with their partner, but men said their partner usually climaxes more often — 73 percent of the time. One in six women said they rarely or never climax. As for men, 74 percent said they always climax, while the rest said they usually do.
Do you engage in oral sex? Four in 10 women and men said they rarely or never give oral sex. Here's some insight into why: 58 percent of men said their partner doesn't like receiving oral sex; one in five women said they're not comfortable enough with their genitals to receive oral sex; 45 percent of women said they don't like performing oral sex while 21 percent said they’re uncomfortable with this sex act.
Are you happy with your partner? Eighty-one percent of men and 86 percent of women say they’re happy, overall, with their partner. Ninety-seven percent of both men and women who are very satisfied with their sex life said they are happy with their partner.
Does your partner know how to excite you? Six in 10 men and seven in 10 women said their partner knows how to turn them on.
Are you a good sexual partner? Seven in 10 respondents said they are.
Do you communicate your sexual needs? Four in 10 respondents said they had asked their partner for something they wanted in bed in the past month.
What are some reasons why you didn't have sex in the last month? Among women, 42 percent said they were too busy or stressed, 34 percent cited different bed times than their partner, 35 percent said they weren't interested and 23 percent said feelings about their body made them less interested. With men, 53 percent said their partner wasn't interested, 47 percent said they themselves were too busy or stressed, and 38 percent cited different bed times.
Do you make date nights for sex? Half of respondents said they do.
Do you engage in "verbal foreplay?" One in three respondents said they call or send an e-mail or text message to their partner to tease about doing something sexual to him or her.
Do you read magazine articles or books that promise to put the spark back in your sex life? Yes, said 52 percent of women and 41 percent of men.
Have you cheated? Among married people, 14 percent of women and 21 percent of men said they have cheated on their partner. Among cohabitators, 11 percent of women and 21 percent of men said they have cheated. Women's top reasons for straying: 44 percent said they were attracted to someone else; 32 percent said they wanted reassurance of their desirability. Men's top reasons: 48 percent wanted more sex; 47 percent wanted more sexual variety.
How many sexual partners have you had? Women reported a median of six partners, while men reported seven. One in six married respondents said they had just one sex partner — their spouse.