Introduction. Although studies of specific groups of individuals (e.g., adolescents, “high risk” samples) have examined sexual repertoire, little is known, at the population level, about the sexual behaviors that comprise a given sexual encounter.
Aim. To assess the sexual behaviors that men and women report during their most recent sexual event; the age, partner and situational characteristics related to that event; and their association with participants' evaluation of the sexual event.
Methods. During March–May 2009, data from a United States probability sample related to the most recent partnered sexual event reported by 3990 adults (ages 18–59) were analyzed.
Main Outcome Measures. Measures included sexual behaviors during the most recent partnered sexual event, event characteristics (i.e., event location, alcohol use, marijuana use, and for men, erection medication use), and evaluations of the sexual experience (pleasure, arousal, erection/lubrication difficulty, orgasm).
Results. Great diversity exists in the behaviors that occur during a single sexual event by adults, with a total of 41 combinations of sexual behaviors represented across this sample. Orgasm was positively related to the number of behaviors that occurred and age was related to greater difficulty with erections and lubrication. Men whose most recent event was with a relationship partner indicated greater arousal, greater pleasure, fewer problems with erectile function, orgasm, and less pain during the event compared with men whose last event was with a nonrelationship partner.
Conclusion. Findings demonstrate that adults ages 18 to 59 engage in a diverse range of behaviors during a sexual event and that greater behavior diversity is related to ease of orgasm for both women and men. Although both men and women experience sexual difficulties related to erectile function and lubrication with age, men's orgasm is facilitated by sex with a relationship partner whereas the likelihood of women's orgasm is related to varied sexual behaviors. Herbenick D, Reece M, Schick V, Sanders SA, Dodge B, and Fortenberry JD. An event-level analysis of the sexual characteristics and composition among adults ages 18 to 59: Results from a national probability sample in the United States. J Sex Med 2010;7(suppl 5):346–361.