Sex in Australia: autoerotic, esoteric and other sexual practices engaged in by a representative sample of adults

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2003;27(2):180-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2003.tb00806.x.


Objectives: To describe the prevalence of a range of autoerotic and other non-coital sexual practices among Australians.

Method: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16-59 years (response rate 73.1%). Respondents were asked whether in the past year they had: masturbated, engaged in various other autoerotic activities, or engaged in any of six other non-coital or esoteric practices.

Results: Half of the respondents (65% men, 35% women) had masturbated in the past year. Nearly half (48%) of the men and 25% of the women had masturbated in the past four weeks, among whom men had done so a mean of 5.8 times and women 3.3 times. About a quarter of all respondents had watched an X-rated film (37% men, 16% women), 12% of men and 14% of women had used a sex toy, and 17% of men and 2% of women had visited an Internet sex site. 17% of men and 14% of women had engaged in digital-anal stimulation with a partner. Phone sex, role play or dressing up, bondage and discipline, sadomasochism or dominance and submission (BDSM-DS), fisting (rectal or vaginal, insertive or receptive) and rimming (oral-anal stimulation) were all engaged in by less than 5% of the sample.

Conclusion: Most of the practices studied were engaged in by more men than women. A range of autoerotic activities are both substitutes for partnered sex and additional sources of pleasure for people with sexual partners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Masturbation
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*