New National Survey Highlights Importance of Sexual Health but Reveals Lack of Comfort in Addressing Issues

Survey Suggests Need to Reduce Barriers in Addressing Sexual Health Conditions

According to a new national survey released, people are failing to address their sexual health concerns despite acknowledging the importance of sexual health and its impact on personal happiness and well-being.

The survey shows that while the majority of people (64 percent) believe sexual health correlates with overall satisfaction in life, more than a quarter shy away from addressing challenges with their doctor and only 13 percent of those dissatisfied with their sex lives are honest with their partners about their concerns and needs.

The survey was conducted by Kelton in collaboration with Men’s Health Network, the American Sexual Health Association, HealthyWomen and Pfizer. It examined the impact of sexual health issues on overall health, happiness, and communication among 3,015 U.S. adults in committed relationships in which at least one partner was experiencing a sexual health issue.

“People are increasingly taking charge of their health in other areas, but that level of comfort hasn’t translated into addressing sexual health issues,” said Eli Coleman, PhD, Director, Program in Human Sexuality, Professor and Chair in Sexual Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota. “We see growing comfort with sex as a cultural topic, but people still aren’t talking about their own sex lives, which has important implications for their overall health and happiness.”

Survey findings also revealed that while people continue to expand their notions of what can be accomplished later in life, their outlook on sexual health is discouraging. More than a third of those surveyed – aged as young as 40 – believe they are resigned to a worse sex life in 20 years, particularly those who are already dissatisfied with their sex lives. Nearly 1 in 5 avoid sex altogether because of sexual health issues.

“The significance of sexual health to one’s overall physical, emotional and psychological well-being, reflected in these findings, creates an urgency to address sexual health issues, as people would with other health concerns,” said Brandon Leonard, MA, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Men’s Health Network. “Embarrassment and discomfort are barriers, indicating a need to consider ways to encourage more of the large percentage of Americans who suffer from sexual health conditions to address them.”

Key survey findings include:

  • 64 percent of participants believe that their sex life influences their overall satisfaction with their lives – more than time spent on themselves (56%) or quality of friendships (51%); 65 percent feel happy when their sex life is healthy
  • Among surveyed Americans facing sexual health problems, only 38 percent are currently satisfied with their sex lives
  • 69 percent have never talked to a healthcare professional about problems that make it hard to enjoy or have sex; 26 percent say that embarrassment when talking to a doctor is a barrier to addressing their sexual health issues
  • Fewer than one in four couples (24%) facing sexual health issues feel that they’re always able to be honest with their partners about their sex lives
  • 46 percent tend to put off addressing relationship issues or never fully resolve them

The survey also explored a number of factors related to frequency of sex and general sexual health satisfaction:

  • Participants have sex an average of five times a month; men would prefer to have sex twice as often (ten times), while women would prefer eight times
  • Based on survey responses, men and women have differing priorities for improving physical intimacy. For women, priorities are improving their ability to achieve an orgasm (28% vs. 19% of men), emotional bonding with their partners (32% vs. 20%), and general enjoyment of sex (34% vs. 22%). Men are more apt to focus on their physical ability to have sex (38% vs. 22% of women) and being able to experiment (28% vs. 12%)
  • Further, there is a significant gap in the way men and women communicate about sexual health issues. Twice as many men than women in opposite-sex relationships (42% vs. 21%) say they are more likely than their partners to start conversations about their sex lives

Men’s Health Network, in collaboration with ASHA, HealthyWomen and Pfizer, will host a Twitter chat (#SexHealthChat) to discuss the data on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm ET. For more information, the multimedia news release is available at

Survey: People Are Failing to Address Their Sexual Health Concerns