advertisement
Updated 22 November 2017

This is how most people define sex, according to their sexuality

A new study asked gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to define the act.

0

Like “hookup,” the word “sex” can mean different things to different people. For some, it only counts if it involves a penetrative action, while others include oral and other foreplay in their definition. And while in the past, researchers have looked into how people define sex, those findings have been pretty limited to heterosexual men and women.

Now, in a new study published in The Journal of Sex Research, a team of scientists is seeking to include gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals in that conversation. Researchers conducted two studies featuring participants they recruited at a Pride Festival over two years.

Read more: 6 Important Times In Your Life When Sex Feels Totally Different

For the first study, they asked lesbian, gay, and bisexual participants what they include in their definitions of sex. Men were asked for their opinion on whether any of the following behaviours qualified as sex: insertive anal intercourse, receptive anal intercourse, “69” (mutual oral stimulation), oral-genital stimulation, “rimming” (mouth to anus stimulation), manual-genital stimulation, manual stimulation of anus, mutual manual-genital stimulation, frottage (rubbing penises), dildo in anus, and self-stimulation on the phone or computer.

Among men, a clear “gold standard” definition of sex became clear: 90% said that penile-anal intercourse was definitely considered sex. (Previous research has shown this to be the gold-standard definition of heterosexual sex as well.) More than 50% of participants also considered “69”, oral-genital stimulation, and “rimming” to be sex. Only about 40% of participants considered the rest of the activities to be sex – and a paltry 23% of people said self-stimulation on the phone or computer was sex.

Read more: THIS Is Your Ultimate Guide To The Art Of Masturbation

For the women with same-sex partners in this study, the consensus on what defines sex wasn’t so clear. More than 70% of participants said that “69”, oral-genital stimulation, dildo in vagina, and using a double-ended dildo all counted as sex. More than 50% of people agreed that manual-genital stimulation (69.5%, scissoring (rubbing genitals) (69.5%), dildo in anus (64%), mutual manual-genital stimulation (62.8%), and rimming (52.4%) were also considered sex. Manual stimulation of the anus (48.2%) and self-stimulation on the phone or computer (23%) were the only behaviours that the majority of participants defined as “not sex”.

In total, for nine of the 11 sexual behaviours asked about, at least 50% of women said they counted it as “having sex”.

Read more: 3 Things You NEED To Do After Using A Sex Toy

In the second part of the study, the researchers analysed the differences in people’s definitions of sex when they judged their own behaviour, compared to what actions they’d consider sex if their partner did it with someone outside of their relationship. They found that lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual participants ALL had stricter guidelines for their partners. This isn’t exactly shocking, since it totally lines up with past research with heterosexual people. No matter what sexual orientation, apparently we define sex much more strictly when it comes to cheating than we do when ranking our own past hookups.

At the end of the day, why does the definition of sex even matter? Well, from a health stance, it’s important for doctors and patients to have an open understanding of what “sexually active” really means, the study authors say. And when it comes to relationships, having a consensus about what sex is can help partners effectively communicate about their sexual agreements and expectations.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

Image credit: iStock

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X

More:

SexNews
advertisement

Live healthier

Mental health & your work »

How open are you about mental illness in the workplace?

Mental health in the workplace – what you can do to help

If you know that one of your colleagues suffers from a mental illness, would you be able to help them at work? Maligay Govender offers some helpful mental health "first aid" tips.

Sleep & You »

Sleep vs. no sleep Diagnosis of insomnia

6 things that are sabotaging your sleep

Kick these shut-eye killers to the kerb and make your whole life better – overnight.