How Many Couples Wait Until Marriage to Have Sex?

Russell Wilson and Ciara (Wenner Media)

Russell Wilson and Ciara (Wenner Media)

Last month, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson proposed to singer Ciara. While this narrative isn’t uncommon (professional athlete gets with professional singer), one thing about their courtship has stuck out: Wilson and Ciara (I’d use her last name here if she used it herself) abstained from sex during their courtship. And they were loud and clear about it.

You may think this example is an outlier. So how many couples wait until marriage to have sex?

A 2006 study by the Guttmacher Institute took data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002. Around 40K+ subjects ages 15-44 were asked about their sex lives. In 2002, around 95% reported having premarital sex (shocker <– sarcasm right here.) So that’d be around 5% who reported staying virgins til marriage. But this is all self-reported data, so I can’t tell if answers were blinded or not. (Respondents might lie if their answers aren’t blinded.)

This is a upswing from back in the day, but not a total shock. Dr. Alfred Kinsey tackled this same question in his seminal works, 1948’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” and 1953’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.” He found that 67-98% of men had had premarital sex, “depending on socioeconomic level” (I would love to know what that means!), with 68% losing it before turning 18. Women fell into a 50-50 split of whether they’d had premarital sex or not. (This kind of turns the prudish ’50s narrative on its ass, doesn’t it?)

Even thought we have some data, it’s difficult to predict the numbers of virgins-til-marriage completely accurately if the numbers are all self-reported. Some might not self-report accurately due to shame or any number of factors. That being said, nothing wrong with their decision to wait.


How Many States Outlaw Abortion?

Hillary Clinton (ABC News)

Hillary Clinton (ABC News)

With Hillary Clinton’s recent announcement that she’s running for president, women’s issues will be front and center as a talking point this election season. It’s all but certain that one perennially hot-button topic will be brought up: abortion.

Right now, 42 states prohibit abortions, according to a study performed by the Guttmacher Institute. Exceptions can only be made in the case of a threat to the mother’s health. Even then, there are time limits up to which an abortion can be performed. Thirty-nine states require that the procedure be performed by a licensed physician, but health insurance can be a problem: Health care providers can refuse to pay for it in 46 states.

Those are some damning stats, and you can see more in the Guttmacher Institute’s report. Let’s hope this election brings progress and changes to these detrimental policies.

Female Condoms’ Failure Rate Over Long-Term Use

Female Condom demonstrator

Female Condom demonstrator

It seems like everyone is talking about female condoms lately. Maybe your friend has just tried it, or someone else swears by them, but mainstream awareness of the contraceptive measure seems to be growing by the day.

One thing that’s on everybody’s mind: its failure rate.

The Guttmacher Institute (headquartered in New York and Washington D.C.) is way ahead of the curve on this one, having done a female condom usage study on this back in 2005 (almost a decade ago!). From 1995-1998, they observed 869 women ages 18-35 within 2 STI clinics. The control group received only male condoms to use, while the variable group got both female condoms and male condoms as a back-up measure. The women were educated on female condom use. Prior to the study, only three women had used a female condom, and 95% practiced inserting it at the clinic.

The study found that 11% of female condoms slipped out at first use, while declined to less than 1% when used over 15 times. Overall, 3% of all female condoms slipped out, out of 7K+ female condoms used.

For comparison, 7% of male condoms broke when used for the first time, and declined to 2% when used over 15 times. Three percent of male condoms overall broke during use, out of 12K+ male condoms used.

I couldn’t find any studies on female condom use over the long-term from more recent times (within the past five years or so), so it’ll be interesting to see whether the new cultural awareness of the method will result in more people using female condoms more frequently.