Sexual Health in the Netherlands 2017 (In Dutch: Seksuele Gezondheid in Nederland 2017) is a large-scale representative study of 17,000 Dutch people between the ages of 18 to 80.
It contains a wealth of information about a wide range of sexuality-related topics.
Some of the main results:
92% of men say they enjoy sex a lot. For women, the percentage is a little less: 75%. If people are not content, it is usually not because of the quality of the sex but it has more to do with how often they have sex.
How sexually active people are (including solo sex as well as sex with a partner) appears to depend mostly on their age and physical health. People in the age bracket 25-39 are most sexually active: 85% of them have had sex with a partner in the last six months. For those over 70, the figure is 51%. Among people over 70 who have a partner, 62% have had sex in the past half year.
Single people are sexually more active than people with a steady partner. They have various sex partners, and singles between 25 and 40 years are more engaged in online dating and sexting than people in a steady relationship.
Porn is part of most men’s sex lives. 71% of men have watched porn in the last six months, compared to 29% of women. For most people, porn does not replace or hinder having sex with a partner. People who watch porn more often, also have more sex with a partner.
Eleven per cent of men and 15% of women have at least one sexual problem that occurs often or always and that causes considerable distress. The chance of a sexual problem is about twice as much if someone has a chronic illness or condition and/or is taking medication for it. Sexual problems are most common among those men aged over 70 (for instance erection problems), whereas sexual problems among women are most common under the age of 25 (for example, pain during sexual intercourse). For both these groups, 21% suffers from at least one sexual problem.
Sexual violence and coercion
Twenty-two per cent of women have ever experienced manual, oral, vaginal or anal sex against their will and/or have been forced to do sexual acts against their will. For men, this is 6%. If kissing and touching in a sexual way against one’s will is included, the percentage is much higher still, namely 53% of women compared to 19% of men. Five per cent of women and 2% of men have experienced sexual violence before the age of 12.
Hardly anyone thinks that an assault was provoked. Different principles are referred to when nude pictures are put online: one in three men and one in four women think this is one’s own fault. Almost half the group of men (47%) and more than half of the women concerned (56%) reported that they suffer from complaints or problems as a result of having experienced sexual violence. This mainly concerns psychological, sexual and relationship problems.
Experiences of homosexual, lesbian and bisexual people
Homosexual and bisexual men had more sexual experiences against their will than heterosexual men: 18% compared to 6%. In the past year, 25% of homosexual and bisexual men were verbally abused because of their sexual orientation; among lesbian and bisexual women this percentage is 15%. In this study, the group of transgender people was too small to make reliable conclusions but from previous studies we know that this group has to deal with verbal and physical violence relatively often.
Are the Dutch having safe sex?
A worrisome result: among the group of people whose most recent sex partner was from a one-night-stand, 42% of men and 55% of women did not use a condom with the partner concerned, risking an STI.
The contraceptive pill has been the most used contraceptive method for years (30%). It is used especially by young women: 63% of sexually active women aged 18-24 use the pill. Among older women (40-49), the use of IUDs is the same as the pill: 18%.
Despite the high use of contraception in the Netherlands, 8% of women aged 18-49 years are at risk of an unplanned pregnancy because they have sexual intercourse without using contraception, are fertile, not pregnant or do not want to become pregnant.
Three per cent of women and men have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. Remarkably, two out of five people indicated that contraception had been used. The majority of them indicated that the particular contraceptive method had not always been used or that something went wrong when using it.