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Sex (a loan word from the English language , from Latin sexus "gender") refers to the practical exercise of sex uality as the totality of life expressions, behaviors, feelings and interactions of living organisms in terms of their sexuality . In everyday language , sex refers to sexual acts between two or more sexual partners, in particular sexual intercourse and comparable sexual practices , and in a broader sense also includes masturbation (autosexuality: sex with oneself).

One form of human sex is sexual intercourse


Sex has many functions: it satisfies the libido , is used in the form of sexual intercourse of reproductive and presses generally as an important form of social interaction feelings of tenderness, affection and love from. Sex life can play a central role as an expression of the bond between the partners, especially in love relationships . However, it is not exclusively linked to love relationships or partner ties.

Sexual contact among animals is usually called copulation . As a rule, it is a matter of purely instinct-controlled behavior that serves exclusively for reproduction. In a number of species , such as bonobos and dolphins , sex is part of social interaction, similar to humans. In humans, sex is no longer purely instinctive , but is also subject to conscious decision-making processes .

Sexual practices

Manual stimulation of the genitals ( petting )
Heterosexual intercourse in the "riding position"
Homosexual intercourse between two men in the missionary position
A form of tribadia as a possibility for lesbian sex

A sexual practice is any act that subjectively serves sexual satisfaction. These are not just stimulations of the sexual organs , but anything that can be perceived as arousing, such as a French kiss .

Since sex has its own meaning and purpose in humans because it is decoupled from reproduction , it has developed a wide variety of sexual practices that are, on the one hand, an expression of creativity and the joy of physical togetherness, on the other hand, have very practical backgrounds, for example when heterosexual anal intercourse was often used for contraception - even if it is a highly unsafe method.

Sexual practices without intercourse

Sexual practices that are not limited to one person include erotic massage , irritation of the erogenous zones (including the nipples and earlobes ) and the whole body, that is, necking and petting . In addition, there are a number of practices that are perceived as sexually stimulating by the group of those involved: role-playing , disguises, delays or accelerations of sexual acts, sexual acts in a certain place, the joint consumption of erotic or pornographic material, but also stronger stimuli such as pain ( sadomasochism ) or electrical stimulation . Almost all things or actions can be sexually charged.

Sexual intercourse

"Sexual intercourse" ("cohabitation") describes the sexual union of two sexual partners, which consists in the penetration or intensive stimulation of the genital organs during sexual contact - regardless of the type. In partnership sex, the tender foreplay (see petting ), the intimate exchange of tenderness, increases mutual pleasure . A penetration can consist in the penetration of the penis, hand, fingers or sex toys into a body opening of the other person.

“Heterosexual intercourse” is generally understood to mean the insertion of the penis into the vagina followed by moving it back and forth. This sliding movement usually stimulates the man to such an extent that he can orgasm and ejaculate. On the other hand, only a small percentage of women, even if they are normally also aroused, can only reach a climax through vaginal intercourse alone (see also orgasm in women: Research status ). Usually, both during foreplay and after penetration, additional - direct or indirect - stimulation of the clitoris is required, which can be carried out, for example, by suitable body movements of the partner or by hand. This type of sex can be practiced in various "positions" such as missionary position , doggy position , riding position, or 69 .

During oral sex , sexual intercourse with her mouth and tongue takes place, the combination of mouth-penis as " fellatio ", combining mouth-vulva as " cunnilingus " is called. Simultaneous mutual oral stimulation is also very figuratively called " sixty-nine ". Anal stimulation can also take place orally if the highly sensitive perineum or the external sphincter muscle is touched with the mouth and tongue ( anilingus ).

During anal intercourse , the penis is inserted into the other person's anus . Anal intercourse can also be practiced in various positions; in addition, it is also practiced with the fingers or with suitable objects.

Other practices

In addition to these practices, there is also the mutual rubbing of the genitals ( tribadie ), the insertion of the whole hand or forearm into a body opening of the other person ( fisting ), sex between the breasts of a woman ( mammal intercourse ), intercourse between the thighs ( thigh intercourse ), the buttocks or in the armpits . Special forms of sexual intercourse include BDSM , fast sex ( quickie ), threesome sex (triplet: threesome ) or in a group ( group sex , gang bang ). Sexual and obscene speaking is possible without physical contact (verbal eroticism such as dirty talk , phone sex , cybersex ), as well as the pure observation of other people's sexuality ( voyeurism ) and the presentation of one's own sexuality ( exhibitionism ).


Paraphilias or sexual deviations include, among other things:


Autosexuality or “masturbation” includes all sexual practices that an individual engages in. Masturbation is carried out by hand, but can generally also take place with the help of a wide variety of objects.

Sexual Orientation and Sexual Preference

Sexual orientation

"Sexual orientation" or "sexual partner orientation" is the main interest in relation to the gender of the desired partner. It is composed of a complex mixture of emotional and sexual attraction , experience , actual sexual behavior and personal identity, which are linguistically expressed using three terms:

Of asexuality is spoken when people feel no sexual attraction towards other people or simply not sexually interact.

Sexual preference

Other inclinations or preferences regarding partners, practices or sexual objects are summarized as “sexual preference”. If the age-related interest is predominantly in prepubertal children, it is pedophilia . However, this is not to be equated with sexual abuse , because only 12 to 20% of the offenders are pedophiles, most of them are non-pedophile adults. Is the interest at puberty , which is Hebephilia called, in the case of young people Neoterophilie . If much older people are preferred, it is called gerontophilia . Sexuality can be lived with only one partner ( monogamy ) or with several partners ( promiscuity ) . Sexual tendencies that deviate significantly from the empirical norm are called paraphilia . Sexual acts with animals ( zoophilia ) and with the dead ( necrophilia ) are taboo and prohibited .

Sexual behavior

In a representative survey, the sexual behavior of 2524 people in Germany who were at least 14 years old was examined. The data were standardized for the German population. 83% of the men and 78% of the women stated that they had only had opposite-sex sexual contacts so far; 5% of the men or 8% of the women had had same-sex sexual contacts. 88% of men and 89% of women had vaginal intercourse at least once in their lives, 56% of men and 48% of women had passive oral intercourse at least once, and 51% of men and 45% of women had active oral intercourse. Active anal intercourse at least once was reported by 19% of the men, passive anal intercourse by 4% of the men and 17% of the women. For the year before the survey, men reported vaginal intercourse on average 32.7 times, women 25.2 times. During this time, men had an average of 13.6 active oral sex, women 8.7 times (of which 1.4 times for men, 7.3 times for women). 21% of the men and 15% of the women ever had sexual intercourse in addition to the permanent partnership, with an average of 3.7 other partners. In addition to the current permanent partnership, outside sexual contacts were reported by 8% of men and 6% of women, with men with an average of 4.0 prostitutes (this was not recorded for women). Over the previous lifetime, men had an average of 10.2 different sexual partners, women an average of 5.5 partners.

Physiological processes during sex and arousal

Sexual appetite

In psychology, sex is valued as an appetite behavior , the driving force of which is the sex drive, also known as libido . As long as no sexual satisfaction is experienced, "sexual appetite" (compare appetite ) builds up , the desire for sexual activity is increased (see also sexual appetite disorder ).

From a physiological point of view, the libido is dependent on the production of sex hormones , i.e. testosterone in men and estrogen in women . Many women report fluctuations in libido over the course of the female cycle .

Sexual arousal is first of all a reaction of the limbic system in the brain to certain sensory stimuli, which can result in involuntary physical reflexes that may then lead to the initiation of mating behavior .

Reaction cycle during sex

The sequence of processes during sex - with or without a partner - is called the sexual reaction cycle and is usually divided into four phases:

During the excitement phase, the genitals become more vasocongested, leading to swelling of the penis (above) as well as the clitoris and labia (below)
  1. During the excitement phase, the pulse and blood pressure rise : the sex flush sets in. In women, the clitoris , labia and nipples swell , in men the penis . These erections are a naturally occurring process during sexual arousal, which is caused by the accumulation of blood in the associated cavernous bodies of these organs (but not in the nipples). It is normally triggered by the erection center in the lower spinal cord , for example through reflex mechanical stimulation , erotic thoughts, erotic sensual perceptions or ideas , of course also directly through caressing of others or one's own manipulations. At the same time, an erection in a man is one of the prerequisites for penetration, that is, coitus , although an active and fulfilling love life is possible without one.
  2. During the plateau phase , an individually different level of excitation is maintained for some time, the muscle tension is intensified and the pulse and blood pressure continue to rise. The woman's outer labia swell and a vaginal transudate , the vaginal secretion , comes out; the Bartholin's glands release their clear fluid late in this phase, while men secrete a secretion from the Cowpers glands .
  3. In the third phase, orgasm , the pleasure is felt most strongly for a few seconds. The blood flow to the skin increases to a maximum, the frequency of the heartbeat can double, blood pressure rises and breathing speeds up, which can even lead to a brief loss of consciousness . Meanwhile, there are involuntary, rhythmic muscle contractions in the genital and anal region .
    • An average orgasm for women consists of about 5 to 15 muscle contractions of the "orgasmic cuff", which are some muscles in the abdominal area. During female ejaculation, a clear liquid can sometimes be released from the G-spot gland center ( prostate feminina ) . Many women have a slower and flatter arousal curve than men and therefore need more time to reach sexual climax.
    • During orgasm with ejaculation, thanks to coordinated contractions of the epididymis , the vas deferens , the vesicle gland , prostate and urethra, as well as the contractions of the pelvic floor muscles , the man usually expels around two to six milliliters of semen . However, orgasm and ejaculation can also occur independently.
  4. The last phase is the refractory period , in which erections decline after sexual climax and cardiovascular function returns to normal. This usually happens much more slowly in women than in men. Post-coital fatigue often occurs in men . Most men then need a few minutes or considerably longer (several days with age) before they can repeat the sexual reaction cycle.

Biological function

Mating in elephants

As an evolutionary reason for sexual reproduction, fitness advantages over asexual reproduction are assumed to be very likely. Mixing the genes would result in, for example, a reduction in the risk of disadvantageous mutations and a reduction in susceptibility to infectious diseases .

In mammals , the most common sexual practice is vaginal intercourse - mostly in the a-tergo - or " missionary position ". Oral contact with the partner's genitals and anus, as well as homosexual practices, also occur.

Sex and health


The pill"

“Prevention” can be understood to mean the prevention of conception , on the other hand also the sexual hygienic prophylaxis of diseases .

The most important form of contraception is the condom , which usually consists of a latex cover that is rolled over the erect penis to prevent pregnancy and infection with sexually transmitted diseases. Female condoms - Femidoms and leak towels  - still have not been widely distributed. When used correctly, the safety of a condom is very high, although not as safe as hormonal contraceptives; However, it is the only contraceptive that can largely prevent infection with HIV , gonorrhea and hepatitis B.

The best-known means of preventing pregnancy is the birth control pill ("the pill"), which has been used most frequently as a contraceptive in industrialized nations since 1960 . The hormone preparation, which is regularly taken orally and contains the female hormones estrogen and progestin , offers a very high level of protection when used correctly. The hormones suppress egg maturation , ovulation , and close the uterus against sperm by simulating pregnancy, so to speak, for the female body. Protection against infection with diseases, especially AIDS, is not provided by the pill and is only achieved through the additional use of a condom.

There are also a variety of other contraceptive methods and contraceptives .

Sexually transmitted diseases

A condom

Those diseases that are predominantly transmitted through sexual activity and that venereology deals with are called sexually transmitted diseases . The cause of these diseases are infections caused by protozoa , bacteria or viruses . The “classic sexually transmitted diseases” that were widespread in the past, such as syphilis , gonorrhea (“gonorrhea”), lymphogranuloma venereum (“ venereal lymph node inflammation”) and ulcus molle (the “soft chancre”) have now receded in importance. The greatest danger comes from AIDS / HIV , hepatitis B , genital herpes , chlamydia and trichomonads infections and various human papilloma viruses , which can cause cervical carcinoma in women, but also "benign" tumors such as genital warts .

Across Europe there is a dramatic increase in all STDs, as large parts of the population now believe that these diseases have been eradicated. Since HIV infection is still viewed as a fringe group problem, many people recklessly forego the protection of a condom (see below).

Since infection can never be completely ruled out, sexually transmitted diseases represent an inevitable basic risk for sexually active people, which they have to accept. Consistent use of condoms drastically reduces this risk, but hepatitis B is also transmitted through oral sex in so-called highly viremic carriers. The hepatitis B vaccination can significantly reduce the risk of infection with hepatitis B. More people die from hepatitis B each year than from all other sexually transmitted diseases combined.

If there is a suspicion of a possible infection by HIV, a post- exposure prophylaxis is available for 24 hours after the event, a preventive, but also very unsafe treatment attempt, which is accompanied by the long-term use of antiretroviral drugs.

Impact of sex on mental health

Sexual activity can lower blood pressure and general stress levels, regardless of age. It relieves tension, lifts mood, and can induce a deep sense of relaxation, especially in the post-coital period. From a biochemical point of view, sex causes the release of endorphins and increases the levels of white blood cells that help boost the immune system. The influence of sexual activity on stress resistance has been confirmed in scientific studies: test subjects who had sex the previous night were able to react better to stressful situations the next day, they showed significantly lower negative moods and stress and higher positive moods. When a person is sexually active on a regular basis, they can cope better with stressful situations.

Sexual disorders

The Sexual Medicine ( "Sexology"), which works closely with the sex research is linked, is engaged in the preservation and promotion of sexual health . In addition to disorders of gender identity (problems with sexual orientation, transsexuality) and socio-culturally determined sexual behavior (paraphilias), sub-areas are above all the areas of sexual dysfunction and secondary sexual disorders. The latter are caused by primary somatic diseases such as metabolic diseases , cancer diseases or neurological diseases ( e.g. multiple sclerosis ).

Erectile dysfunction , anorgasmia and vaginismus are included in the sexual dysfunction in men and women .

  • The most common sexual disorder in men is premature ejaculation (Latin Ejaculatio praecox ), when the latter is unable to control the timing of ejaculation during sexual intercourse. The premature ejaculation is characterized by premature ejaculation, usually shortly after the introduction of the penis into the vagina, often in which a control is no longer possible, even before that as these men an arousal level has already been reached, however. About 20% of all men say they have this problem. When treating mild forms, the focus is on including the partner, minimizing the pressure to succeed (for example by temporarily prohibiting sexual intercourse) or - in young men - delaying ejaculation after a recent orgasm.
  • Erectile dysfunction (" impotence ") is the long-term failure or maintenance of a penile erection . In the vast majority of cases, this serious condition is organically caused. Causes can be smoking , alcohol consumption , diabetes , high blood pressure , operations or injuries to the erectile tissue . Potency drugs such as Viagra , Levitra and Cialis can in certain cases alleviate the symptoms and the psychological stress of those affected.
  • Lack of libido is also known as frigidity , which can be caused by a number of diseases and as side effects of drugs in particular . In addition to somatic diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver , hypogonadism , eunuchism or testosterone deficiency in men, many psychological and psychosomatic diseases such as depression or anorexia are also the cause of a decrease in libido. Increased sex drive sometimes causes mania , mild hyperthyroidism , sex addiction and nymphomania .

Sex and society

Representation of sexual intercourse in India : Kamasutra - 18th century edition

In all societies , sexual contact is associated with moral ideas. This is especially true for sexual intercourse, which not least has to ensure the continued existence of a society through the creation of new generations . The totality of social norms and values , which are just as dependent on the respective people and culture as well as on society and its epoch, is called "sexual morality", the reflection on it is called " sexual ethics ".

Moral Aspects

Sexuality in the field of tension between society and religion: Allegory of love ( Angelo Bronzino , 1545)

The ethics of Western society is strongly shaped by the Christian faith. Since the Middle Ages, the Catholic institutions in Western Europe , later also other Christian churches, have dominated public opinion of sexuality. Enjoy sex was widely considered sinful , only the sacrament of Christian marriage integrated procreation and reproduction was morally advocated and promoted, although the practice may have been different. After a phase of affirmative attitudes towards sexuality, attitudes changed in the 18th century as a result of the prevailing bourgeois and Protestant sexual morality, various sexual behaviors were considered "sick": masturbation was viewed as harmful to health , as was child sexuality. With the advancing secularization of the western world in the 20th century, more and more sexual activities and behavior have found acceptance. The taboo on the sexual is often still effective today: Publicly “celebrated” sexual taboos, for example on television , are just as much an indication here as the double standards that are often still practiced .

Most people who grew up in Western societies can accept three moral "minimum rules" about sex:

  • The sexual acts are carried out by mutual consent, that is, each partner agrees to these acts with full awareness of the consequences and freely - that is, without coercion. The sexual partners must also have reached a minimum age (often 14 or 16 years).
  • Sexual activity should not cause permanent physical or mental harm, either to the partner or to third parties.
  • Children should only be fathered through sexual activity if those involved are able to fully assume the responsibilities and duties that go with it.

Normative and cultural differences in sexual morality exist with regard to the formal assessment of marriage, sex before and outside of marriage ( adultery ), the forms of coexistence ( monogamy , polygamy , polyamory , polyandry ), the attitude towards prostitution , the age of the ability to marry, the Times and types of sexual intercourse, etc. There is, however, extensive socio-cultural agreement regarding the practice of sexual intercourse only in private, the outlawing of rape and the incest taboo .

Legal conflicts

Felice Ficherelli , The Rape of Lucretia (17th century)

The respective moral and / or religious ideas can also be found regularly in the corresponding legal provisions. Sexual intercourse between spouses is permitted worldwide, although certain sexual practices may still be prohibited. In general, rape and sexual coercion are also punishable; in some countries there is a further differentiation here, so that there are also the facts of sexual acts with children ( sexual abuse of children ) or the mentally handicapped and other incapable of resistance . There are very large differences in the legal structure when it comes to intercourse between unmarried people, same-sex sex and sexual intercourse between very close relatives ( incest ), harassing exhibitionism by men, sexual acts in public (" arousing public nuisance ") and sodomy . In some cases, acts that enable or tolerate sexual acts are also prohibited ( pimping ).


Same-sex acts and pimping are no longer punishable here, but sodomy has been banned again since 2013 following a reform of the Animal Welfare Act, but is now only punished as an administrative offense. The principle applies that all sexual practices and forms are permitted that occur in agreement between the parties involved, provided they are capable of giving their consent and are able to overlook the consequences. However, the areas in which permanent damage can occur are still critical, since here - despite consent - for example all files resulting in death remain criminally relevant. Sexual intercourse with and between minors is also subject to restrictions. Sexual acts with children under 14 years of age are prohibited even with mutual consent ( Section 176 ).


Sexual intercourse is not punishable if both partners are 14 years of age or older and if both parties consent. In addition, 13-year-olds are allowed to have sexual intercourse as long as the age difference to their partner is not more than three years. For sexual acts that do not involve intercourse, the permitted age difference is four years. Until August 2002, sexual intercourse between homosexual men was only allowed among adults (over 18 years of age) (Section 209 of the Criminal Code). This discrimination against homosexual people was lifted by the Austrian Constitutional Court in June 2002, with the Austrian National Council only two weeks later, with the votes of the ÖVP and FPÖ, resolving a constitutional succession regulation that provides for more stringent conditions for sexual acts between the ages of 14 and 16 and because of its insufficiently clear formulation was criticized by the opposition parties as a " rubber paragraf " (Section 207b of the Criminal Code). The remaining regulations are similar to the regulations in Germany.


Sexual acts with persons under the age of 16 are a criminal offense, unless the age difference is less than three years ( Swiss Criminal Code , Art. 187). No distinction is made between homosexual and heterosexual relationships.

Sex and language

A multitude of expressions have become common colloquially for all types of sex, including sexual intercourse .

Definition of "having sex"

Depiction of sexual intercourse in an engraving by Agostino Carracci (16th century)

In which sexual practices and under which circumstances a person “has sex” differs individually, whereby cultural factors play a role, the age especially in men and the sexual orientation. However, gender is not statistically significant on average. There are individual studies, especially from the English-speaking world, where the phrase “ have sex ” (German: “have sex”) is involved.

The best-known episode is the Lewinsky affair , when Monica Lewinsky practiced oral sex with the then President Bill Clinton and he said in early 1999: “ I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. "(German:" I had no sexual intercourse [literally: 'no sexual relations', 'no sexual relationship'] with this woman, Miss Lewinsky. ") Shortly afterwards, the Kinsey Institute published a study carried out in 1991 with 599 students from 29 States. For 59% of the participants, oral-genital contact did not fall under the term “having sex”. 19% also saw it in penile-anal intercourse. The conclusion that was drawn was that Americans have different views on the subject. The decision to publish this study at this point cost George D. Lundberg, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association , the job. As a result, further studies were carried out, mostly with schoolchildren and students, sometimes also with young adults, some were carried out as in-depth interviews or open questionnaires. Some revolved around loss of virginity and abstinence.

The Kinsey Institute interviewed 204 men and 282 women between the ages of 18 and 96 in Indiana by phone for a study published in early 2010. The question was: “ Would you say you 'had sex' with someone if the most intimate behavior you engaged in was… ” (German : “ Would you say you 'had sex' with someone, if the most intimate behavior you are involved in Was, the following was ... ”) Among the men, those in the youngest and oldest age group generally significantly more often did not regard certain behaviors as“ having sex ”, with women there were no significant age differences.

  • 94.8% defined penile-vaginal intercourse as “having sex” without further information, 93.3% penile-vaginal intercourse with a condom, 92.7% penile-vaginal intercourse without a female orgasm, 89.1% without penile-vaginal intercourse male ejaculation. Only 77.3% of the oldest group of men (65+) considered penile-vaginal intercourse as sex.
  • On average, 80.8% considered penile-anal intercourse as sex, 79.5% considered penile-anal intercourse without male ejaculation. In men in the youngest age group (18-29), 77% defined it as sex, in men in the oldest age group (65+) 50% and in women in the oldest age group 67%.
  • 73% considered oral-genital intercourse received to be sex, 71% considered oral-genital intercourse given. In the youngest group of men (18–29), only 40% considered oral-genital intercourse as sex, and 33.3% considered oral-genital intercourse, both of which skyrocketed to over 80% in the next age group (30–44) almost 60% ends up in the oldest age group.
  • 48.1% considered manual-genital intercourse received as sex, 44.9% considered manual-genital intercourse given. In the youngest group of men, only 16.7% consider manual-genital intercourse received as sex, and only 9.7% consider manual-genital intercourse given, which both skyrockets to over 50% in the next age group and around 50% in the oldest group of men 40% decrease.

The next study was published in the summer of 2010, interviewing 180 men who identify themselves as gay between 18 and 56 years old from the United Kingdom and 190 equally gay men between 18 and 74 years old from the United States. The questions were answered on paper (UK) between 2005 and 2007 or online (US) in 2007. The question in the UK was: “ 'Would you say you' had sex 'if the following intimate behaviors took place (please circle). Please answer all items, not only those you have experienced. ”With behaviors and each with a five-point approval scale (when combined, then summarized as: 1–2 approval, 3–5 no approval). In the USA the question was “ Would you say you 'had sex' with someone if the most intimate behavior you engaged in was… ” with a yes / no choice.

  • Almost all defined receiving penile-anal intercourse as "having sex" (US: 96.3%; UK: 94.9%) as well as giving penile-anal intercourse (US: 94.7%; UK: 94.4%)
  • Interestingly, less defined penile-vaginal intercourse than sex (US: 84.6%; UK: 86.6%).
  • As with heterosexually dominated surveys, other behaviors were less often viewed as sex. In terms of data, the responses for giving and receiving activities did not differ significantly in the individual categories, with the exception of oral breast stimulation in the UK.
  • British gays report some activities significantly more often than American gays that they fall under “having sex”: giving oral genital stimulation (UK: 84.9%; US: 71.6%), receiving oral genital stimulation ( UK: 84.2%; US: 72.6%), performing and receiving oral anal stimulation (UK: 78.4%; US: 61.2%), performing and receiving stimulation with sex toys (UK: 77.1%; US: 55%) and performing and receiving manual anal stimulation (UK: 70.9%; US: 53.4%).
  • There were slight differences in the other activities: manual stimulation of the genitals (active: US: 50.5%, UK: 47.5%; passive: US: 50.0%, UK: 48.6%), oral stimulation of the Chest (active: US: 23.7%, UK: 30.3%; passive: US: 21.6%, UK: 19.0%; this is the only exception where active and passive are in the UK data significantly different), manual breast stimulation (active: US: 19.5%, UK: 21.2%; passive: US: 20.5%, UK: 20.0%) and intensive kissing (US: 16.3 %; UK: 17.3%).
  • Compared to previous studies with predominantly heterosexual participants, gays tend to include manual, oral, anal stimulation and that of sex toys in their definition of “having sex” more often.

This shows that behavior-specific terms should be used in the anamnesis of sexual life history, in sex research, in health information and in sex education, and not simply the euphemism “having sex”. This affects the number of sexual partners and frequency of sexual activity reported, which is important information for researchers, health care professionals and behavioral specialists, such as risk assessments for sexually transmitted diseases. Researchers, lecturers, and health workers should also be careful not to automatically assume their own definitions of “having sex” on others. Kinsey, for example, inquired about individual sexual practices, orgasms, and emotions in his research from 1938 to 1953. The standard assumption was that everyone had done everything. If it wasn't, it had to be denied.

See also

Portal: Love and Sexuality  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of love and sexuality


  • Alenka Zupančič : What is sex? Psychoanalysis and Ontology. Turia & Kant, Vienna 2019.
  • Ruth Westheimer : Sex for Dummies. Everything you always wanted to know about sex. 3. Edition. MITP, Bonn 2001, ISBN 3-8266-2947-7 .
  • Jürgen Brater: Lexicon of sex errors. 500 intimate corrections from education to French kiss. Ullstein, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-548-36721-6 .
  • Geoffrey Parrinder: Sexuality in the Religions of the World. Patmos, Düsseldorf 2004, ISBN 3-491-69114-1 . (Cultural-religious differences in sex, focus in Asia, but also in Africa, in Islam, Judaism and Christianity)
  • Michael Miersch: The bizarre sex life of animals. A popular encyclopedia from eels to zebra. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-8218-1519-1 . (Love practices, courtship rituals, bizarre genitals and astonishing behavior of the animals.)
  • Thomas Hecken: Shaping Eros. The beautiful literature and the sexual act. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1997, ISBN 3-531-12901-5 . (Representation of sex in western literature from earlier to today.)
  • Judith Mackay: The Penguin Atlas of Human Sexual Behavior. Sexuality and Sexual Practice around the World. Penguin, New York 2000, ISBN 0-14-051479-1 . (Different sex practices in the world)

See also the references in the article Sexuality

Web links

Commons : Sex  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Sex  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. G. Kockott: Sexual deviations, paraphilias, perversions. In: Gerhardt Nissen, Herbert Csef, Wolfgang Berner, Frank Badura: Sexual disorders : causes - diagnosis - therapy. Steinkopff, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 978-3-7985-1547-5 , pp. 163-173.
  2. ^ APA: Dangerous sex offenders: A task-force report. American Psychological Association , Washington 1999 (English).
  3. ^ Julia Haversath, Kathrin M. Gärttner, Sören Kliem, Ilka Vasterling, Bernhard Strauss, Christoph Kröger: Sexual behavior in Germany . Deutsches Ärzteblatt 2017; Volume 114, issue 33–34, pages 545–50; [DOI: 10.3238 / arztebl.2017.0545]; on-line
  4. a b c d e f g h William H. Masters, Virginia E. Johnson: Human sexual response. Little, Brown & Co, Boston 1966, ISBN 0-923891-21-8 .
  5. Mark Ridley : Evolution. 3. Edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2003, ISBN 1-4051-0345-0 , pp. 314-327.
  6. ^ Burleson, MH, Trevathan, WR, & Todd, M. (2007): In the mood for love or vice versa? Exploring the relations among sexual activity, physical affection, affect, and stress in the daily lives of mid-aged women. Archives of sexual behavior, 36 (3), 357-368 doi: 10.1007 / s10508-006-9071-1
  7. a b c d e Volkmar Sigusch: Sexual disorders and their treatment. Georg Thieme Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-13-158564-1 .
  8. "sexual relations". In: Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved on January 11, 2015 (English, no singular): "sexual relations (noun plural): Definition of SEXUAL RELATIONS: sexual intercourse, First Known Use of SEXUAL RELATIONS: 1890; Medical Definition of SEXUAL RELATIONS: coitus "
  9. "sexual relation". In: Retrieved on January 11, 2015 (English): "sexual relation - the sexual intercourse / the supplement (outdated)"
  10. "sexual relations". In: Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved on January 11, 2015 (English, no singular): "sexual relations (formal): the act of having sex with someone"
  11. SA Sanders, JM Reinisch: Would you say you "had sex" if ...? In: Journal of the American Medical Association . tape 281 , no. 3 , January 20, 1999, p. 275-277 , doi : 10.1001 / jama.281.3.275 (English, ).
  12. Lauren Cox: Study: Adults Can't Agree What 'Sex' Means. In: ABC News. March 8, 2010, pp. 1–2 , accessed January 12, 2015 (English).
  13. Lisa Remez: Oral Sex among Adolescents: Is It Sex or Is It Abstinence? In: Family Planning Perspectives . tape 32 , no. 6 , 2000, pp. 298-304 ( ).
  14. Laura M. Bogart, Heather Cecil, David A. Wagstaff, Steven D. Pinkerton, Paul R. Abramson: Is It "Sex?": College Students Interpretations of Sexual Behavior Terminology . In: Journal of Sex Research . tape 37 , no. 2 , 2000, pp. 108–116 , doi : 10.1080 / 00224490009552027 (Students averaging 22.2 years of age "Results indicated that vaginal and anal intercourse were considered sex under most circumstances. Whether oral intercourse was labeled as sex depended on the gender and viewpoint of the actor, and whether orgasm occurred. ").
  15. ^ Laura M. Carpenter: The Ambiguity of "Having Sex": The Subjective Experience of Virginity Loss in the United States. In: Journal of Sex Research . tape 38 , no. 2 , 2001, p. 127–139 , doi : 10.1080 / 00224490109552080 (in-depth interviews with 61 women and men aged 18 to 35).
  16. ^ Marian Pitts, Qazi Rahman: Which Behaviors Constitute "Having Sex" Among University Students in the UK? In: Archives of Sexual Behavior . tape 30 , no. 2 , 2001, p. 169–176 , doi : 10.1023 / A: 1002777201416 (190 female and 124 male students “One-third of respondents regarded oral-genital contact as having sex, around 17% regarded touching genitals, whilst 6% regarded oral or other touching of breasts and nipples as constituting having sex. There were significant gender- and age-related differences in responses. ").
  17. Sandra L. Faulkner: Good Girl or Flirt Girl: Latinas' Definitions of Sex and Sexual Relationships . In: Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences . tape 25 , no. 2 , May 2003, p. 174–200 , doi : 10.1177 / 0739986303025002003 (31 young Latinas, in-depth interviews).
  18. Laura Carpenter: Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences . New York University Press, New York, NY 2005, ISBN 978-0-8147-1652-6 (In-depth interviews of 61 people between 18 and 35. “For most, losing your virginity is one of life's most significant moments, always to be remembered . Of course, experiences vary, but Laura Carpenter asks: Is there an ideal way to lose it? What would constitute a 'positive' experience? What often compels the big step? And, further, what does 'going all the way' really mean for young gays and lesbians? ").
  19. Melina M. Bersamin, Deborah A. Fisher, Samantha Walker, Douglas L. Hill, Joel W. Grube: Defining Virginity and Abstinence: Adolescents' Interpretations of Sexual Behaviors . In: Journal of Adolescent Health . tape 41 , no. 2 , August 8, 2007, p. 182–188 , doi : 10.1016 / j.jadohealth.2007.03.011 , PMC 1941649 (free full text) - (young people between 14 and 19 years of age. "Findings indicated that loss of virginity was linked primarily with vaginal and anal intercourse. While greater proportion of adolescents attributed a loss of abstinence to lower genital touching and oral sex behaviors as well, significant variability emerged in how abstinent behavior was defined. Sexual experience was the strongest predictor of how adolescents defined virginity and abstinence. ").
  20. ^ Zoe D. Peterson, Charlene L. Muehlenhard: What is Sex and Why Does It Matter? A Motivational Approach to Exploring Individuals' Definitions of Sex . In: Journal of Sex Research . tape 44 , no. 3 , August 2007, p. 256–268 (100 students describe in open questionnaires “almost but not quite sex” or “just barely sex” and the like. “In contrast to the above assumptions, many respondents expressed ambiguity about their definitions of sex, and their decisions about labeling experience as "sex" often seemed influenced by the consequences of applying this label. ").
  21. Eileah C. Trotter, Kevin G. Alderson: University students' definitions of having sex, sexual partner, and virginity loss: The influence of participant gender, sexual experience, and contextual factors . In: Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality . tape 16 , no. 1-2 , March 2007, pp. 11–29 ("Students reported a broader definition of sexual partner than of having sex and a broader definition of having sex than of virginity loss. Students' definitions were more likely to include scenarios involving a longer dating status, an opposite-sex partner, and the presence of orgasm. Females reported a broader definition of having sex than males and no relationship was found between students' sexual experience and their sexual definitions ").
  22. Robin G. Sawyer, Donna E. Howard, Jessica Brewster-Jordan, Melissa Gavin, Marla Sherman: "We Didn't Have Sex… .Did We?" College Students Perceptions of Abstinence . In: American Journal of Health Studies . tape 22 , no. 1 , March 2007, p. 46–55 ("This study examined the denotative meaning of sexual terms among a convenience sample of undergraduate students at a Mid-Atlantic university. Findings provide evidence of persistent discordance in their behavioral referents. Such discrepancies highlight numerous dilemmas for researchers and program planners" ).
  23. ^ Gary Gute, Elaine M. Eshbaugh, Jacquelyn Wiersma: Sex for You, But Not for Me: Discontinuity in Undergraduate Emerging Adults' Definitions of "Having Sex." In: Journal of Sex Research . tape 45 , 4 (October-December), 2008, pp. 329-337 , doi : 10.1080 / 00224490802398332 (839 students).
  24. ^ E. Sandra Byers, Joel Henderson, Kristina M. Hobson: University Students' Definitions of Sexual Abstinence and Having Sex . In: Archives of Sexual Behavior . tape 38 , no. 5 , October 2009, p. 665–674 , doi : 10.1007 / s10508-007-9289-6 (298 heterosexual Canadian students. "The majority of both male and female students included activities that did not involve genital stimulation in their definition of sexual abstinence and did not include these activities in their definition of having sex. […] Students were quite mixed in whether activities involving unidirectional genital stimulation (eg, oral sex, genital fondling) constituted abstinence, having sex, or neither abstinence nor having sex. However, they were more likely to see these behaviors as abstinent than as having sex. ").
  25. a b c Stephanie A. Sanders, Brandon J. Hill, William L. Yarber, Cynthia A. Graham, Richard A. Crosby, Robin R. Milhausen: Misclassification bias: diversity in conceptualizations about having 'had sex' . In: Sexual Healt . tape 7 , no. 1 , February 15, 2010, p. 31–34 , doi : 10.1071 / SH09068 (English, [PDF; accessed on January 11, 2015]).
  26. New IU study finds no consensus in definitions of 'had sex'. Press release. In: Indiana University, March 4, 2010, accessed January 11, 2015 .
  27. Brandon J. Hill, Qazi Rahman, DA Bright, Stephanie A. Sanders: The semantics of sexual behavior and their implications for HIV / AIDS research and sexual health: US and UK gay men's definitions of having `` had sex '' . In: AIDS Care . tape 22 , no. 10 , October 2010, p. 1245–1251 , doi : 10.1080 / 09540121003668128 (English, [accessed on January 12, 2015] First published online: July 16, 2010).
  28. a b U.S. and UK gay men differ in definitions of having 'had sex'. Press release. In: Indiana University, July 28, 2010, accessed January 12, 2015 .
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on January 1, 2006 .