Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Orientation Among Adults Aged 18-44 in the United States: Data From the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth

Natl Health Stat Report. 2016 Jan 7;(88):1-14.


Objective: This report provides national estimates of sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual orientation among women and men aged 18-44 in the United States, based on the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).

Methods: Data for the 2011-2013 NSFG were collected through in-person interviews with 10,416 women and men aged 15-44 in the household population in the United States. In this report, data are shown only for 9,175 adults aged 18-44. The data presented in this report were primarily collected using audio computer-assisted self-interviewing, in which the respondent enters his or her answers into the computer without telling them to an interviewer. The overall response rate for the 2011-2013 NSFG was 72.8%.

Results: Regarding opposite-sex sexual behavior, 94.2% of women and 92.0% of men aged 18-44 had ever had vaginal intercourse; 86.2% of women and 87.4% of men had ever had oral sex; and 35.9% of women and 42.3% of men had ever had anal sex. Almost three times as many women (17.4%) reported any same-sex contact in their lifetime compared with men (6.2%) aged 18-44. Feelings of attraction "only to the opposite sex" were more common for men (92.1%) compared with women (81.0%) aged 18-44. Among those aged 18-44, 92.3% of women and 95.1% of men said they were "heterosexual or straight"; 1.3% of women and 1.9% of men said they were "homosexual, gay, or lesbian"; 5.5% of women and 2.0% of men said they were bisexual; and 0.9% of women and 1.0% of men said "don't know" or "refused" (i.e., "did not report") on sexual orientation. Sexual attraction and sexual orientation correlate closely but not completely with reports of sexual behavior. Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual orientation vary by age, marital or cohabiting status, education, and race and Hispanic origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Surveys
  • Heterosexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult