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Casual Sex Increasing in U.S.

Behavior may increase need for protection from sexually transmitted diseases

WEDNESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- People in nonromantic sexual relationships today are likely to have multiple partners, researchers have found, and that behavior could promote the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, they note.

"The United States has seen a major shift toward nonromantic sexual partnerships -- people becoming sexually involved when they are just casually dating or not dating at all," study author Anthony Paik, a sociologist at the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said in a university news release.

He and his colleagues asked 783 heterosexual adults, ages 18 to 60, how many people they had been sexually involved with during their most recent nonromantic sexual relationship and found:

  • 17 percent of the men and 5 percent of the women said they had been with someone other than their relationship partner.
  • 17 percent of women and 8 percent of men said they'd been exclusive but their partner had not.
  • 12 percent of women and 10 percent of men said neither they nor their partner had been monogamous.
  • Being sexually involved with a friend increased the likelihood of not being monogamous by 44 percent for women and 25 percent for men. Involvement with an acquaintance or stranger increased the likelihood by 30 percent for women and 43 percent for men.

Respondents who got along with each other's parents were less likely to have multiple sex partners. This may be because people are less likely to risk a relationship when they consider the impact on family, Paik said.

The findings were published in the March issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

"People can make their own choices, but we hope this information will be useful as they weigh the risks and rewards of nonromantic sexual relationships," Paik said. "We encourage people to be aware of the potential for sexual concurrency and take appropriate precautions to avoid sexually transmitted infections."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sexually transmitted diseases.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Iowa, news release, April 1, 2010

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