Here's How Often Men and Women Really Think About Sex

portrait of a young multiethnic couple

You've probably heard the old adage that men sit around all day thinking about sex. The popular myth says it's once every seven seconds, to be exact. If you take the number of seconds in an hour (3,600) and divide it by 7, that works out to roughly 514 sex thoughts—just in an hour! Seems like a lot.

So how often do people really think about sex? Though the "once every seven seconds" notion seems impossible to prove or disprove, researchers have actually taken a stab at it multiple times.

In 2011, a research team based out of Ohio State University conducted a study to keep track of how often a sample of 283 college students thought about sex, food, and sleep throughout a week. The test subjects were given clickers to press every time each of these things came to mind. On average, the men reported thinking about sex 19 times a day, while the women reported thinking about it 10 times a day.

The figures, published in the Journal of Sex Research, suggest that men think about sex nearly twice as much as women. But, the researchers also found that there is actually “no significant interaction between the sex of the participant and the type of cognition reported.” So, while men did think about sex more often, they also thought about food and sleep more often than women as well.

In slightly more recent findings, OnePoll released the results of a study in conjunction with Pure Romance in 2019, which surveyed 2,000 sexually active American adults on how often they talk about sex. Sixty-five percent of the adults reported that they feel comfortable sharing their sex lives with others, with 29% stating they are “very comfortable.” Respondents were most likely to discuss their sex lives with their significant other/partner/spouse (61%), followed by best friend (60%), friends (40%) co-workers (28%) and roommates (26%).

It makes complete sense one would talk about sex with their partner, since, according to the results, it’s the main way people get advice about their sex lives. Who would have thought, but it seems the best way to get better at sex with the person you’re sleeping with is to ask them directly! If that doesn’t work, turning to friends and other resources are additional avenues.

Americans also like to boast about their sexual adventures. We don’t just tell one person about the “unbelievable night I had”—we tell an average of 4 different people. While we sometimes tell people in a group, in general, we have multiple, distinct conversations with different folks about our sexual adventures (likely embellishing the events from the night with each retelling).

That means when you hook up with someone, your bestie Simon knows, so too does your roommate, Evan. Also you called you brother Alex to share with him, and last but not least, John from accounting got the details, too.

Your mom and dad, however, aren't likely to know, since only 17% of men share their sex stories with their mom and 20% with their dad. (Honestly though, I'm surprised roughly 1 in 5 men talk to their mom about their sex life; that's lot more than I would have guessed.)

At the end of the day, Americans seem open to discussing our personal sex lives with pretty much anyone who will listen. But who can blame us? While sex is fun, it can be even more fun to discuss.