Sex in Australia: selected characteristics of regular sexual relationships

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2003;27(2):124-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2003.tb00799.x.


Objective: To describe selected characteristics of Australian adults' regular or ongoing sexual relationships.

Method: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16-59 years. The overall response rate was 73.1% (69.4% men, 77.6% women). Respondents indicated how often they had sex in the past four weeks, contraceptive use, their own and their partners' expectations about having sex with other people during their relationship, whether they had discussed these expectations with their partners and whether they had an explicit agreement about sex with other people.

Results: 85.3% of men and 89.5% of women were in a regular heterosexual relationship, among whom 81.4% of men and 89.3% of women reported contraceptive use. Men and women who had a regular partner for the past 12 months had had sex with their partners an average of 1.84 times per week in the four weeks before interview; younger people had sex more often. Most respondents expected themselves and their partners to not have sex with other people, although men were less likely than women to have discussed these expectations with their partner. Bisexually identified men and women were significantly less likely than heterosexually identified men and women to support having sex only with their regular partner. Only 4.9% of men and 2.9% of women in regular heterosexual relationships had concurrent sexual partners in the past 12 months.

Conclusion: Australians' attitudes to not having sex with people while in a regular relationship are highly consistent with their behaviour.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Australia
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • History, 17th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*