Are we blushing yet?

Canadians have more sex partners than Italy. We take our time, too.

by Kate Lunau

Are we blushing yet?Which country produces the world’s greatest lovers? Spain and Italy— home to history’s two most famous hot-blooded libertines, Don Juan and Casanova—are clear contenders. And in France, Paris is affectionately called the City of Love (the French even have a kiss named after them). Canada, on the other hand, is better known for its toques, hockey, and maple syrup. But despite our stodgy image, it turns out we’ve got the other three beat: not only do we have more partners than the French, Spanish or Italians, we’re more sexually adventurous, too. During those long, cold winters, we have to do something to keep warm.

The 2007-2008 global Durex survey, which polls people on their sexual habits, makes it clear we’re no slouches in the bedroom. Canadian men say they average 23 partners in a lifetime, it showed, compared with 21 in Spain, 19 in Italy, 17 in France, and 13 in the United States. Canadian women say they have 10 partners, also more than their counterparts in those countries. In China, men reported just four partners in a lifetime, and in India they reported six.

Canada vs. the world

As if that weren’t enough, Canada boasts some of the most caring and considerate male lovers on the planet. Here, we don’t rush to the finish line, we take our time: Canadians spend an average of 37 minutes on foreplay and intercourse per session, a whole 10 minutes more than they do in Hong Kong, and two minutes longer than in the States. We’re more open to experimenting in bed, too. Perhaps most impressively, Canadian men are willing to make big sacrifices for their partners: believe it or not, we’re the vasectomy capital of the world. According to a recent family planning study by the Population Reference Bureau, based in Washington, more women here rely on male sterilization for contraception than in any other country surveyed. How to explain it? “I’m hearing a lot of sensitive comments from patients who empathize with their wives, and what they’ve gone through during childbirth,” says Vancouver-based Dr. Neil Pollock.

But while Canadians do make good partners, a few other nationalities still give us a run for our money. Like Canada, Austria and Switzerland are known for their snow-capped peaks—and they also seem to know that mountain climbing isn’t the only way to break a sweat. In the Durex survey, Austrian men said they had an incredible 29 sexual partners on average, making them the most prolific lovers on the planet. And a full 77 per cent of the Swiss report having sexual fantasies, while just 51 per cent of Canadians do. The innovative Swiss and Austrians also use more erotica (about 60 per cent do in both countries), beating Canada there, too.

Move over Don Juan
In fact, the more open attitudes in Austria and Switzerland seem to permeate much of western Europe, compared to North America. (Just think of the Calvin Klein ads featuring Eva Mendes writhing naked on a bed, deemed too saucy for U.S. broadcast.) In Europe, “the public discourse around sex is different. We’re comfortable discussing it openly,” says Dr. Pierre-André Michaud, professor of adolescent health at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Sex is seen in practical terms, he adds, and isn’t a politically charged issue as it is in the States. “It’s very interesting for us that every U.S. president must declare if they’re for or against gay marriage and abortion,” he notes. “In Switzerland and surrounding countries, these discussions do not take place.”

One might expect that a more liberal approach to sex would contribute to higher incidences of teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But the opposite is generally true. Canada performs better than the States on such indicators—our chlamydia rate in 2007 was 217 per 100,000 people, for example, much lower than the 370 per 100,000 in the U.S.—but some western European countries perform better still. Switzerland, for one, had an infection rate of 69 per 100,000 in 2007. It also has one of the lowest teen pregnancy and abortion rates in the world, Michaud says.

Indeed, the general rule seems to be that restrictive attitudes toward sex (especially teen sex, which is a bellwether of sorts) go hand-in-hand with higher teen pregnancy and STD rates, says Alex McKay, research coordinator at the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada. Being able to discuss sex frankly means people “feel much freer about accessing the services and information they need. As a result, they tend to have fewer sexual problems than we do,” McKay says. In North America, though, “there’s still, to some extent, a taboo surrounding sex.”

A recent survey of Toronto teens seems to back that up. It found that many barriers to accessing sexual health information and services in Canada still exist. Interestingly, while youth said they’d learned about STDs, pregnancy and birth control in school, the topics they wanted to learn about included healthy relationships and sexual pleasure, which are often ignored. Even today, “it’s the exceptional teacher who feels comfortable talking about sex,” says Sarah Flicker, a York University professor who worked on the study.

In the end, having the language to talk about it is most important, insists Sari Locker, a sex educator who works with Durex. “The more you can talk about sex, the more you learn about yourself and how to make it enjoyable,” she says. She acknowledges that the cultural taboos that can quiet such talk vary widely around the globe. But despite those differences, the topics that people want to discuss are universal. “No matter where I go, the number one question I get from men is about size,” Locker says. “I get emails from all around the world. I should count how many different countries it’s been.”




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Are we blushing yet?

  1. Regrettable partners don't make it into the statistics …right?

    • Yes…the numbers sound a little high to me…I thought it used to be 10/lifetime in Cad…now over 20? You can stay "sexy" with the same partner!

  2. "As if that weren't enough, Canada boasts some of the most caring and considerate male lovers on the planet. "

    I wonder if Canadian women (averaging 10 lifetime partners) think it's considerate that Canadian men (averaging 23 partners) are sleeping around so much. I'll bet most consider it pretty disappointing that Canadian men are so disloyal and irresponsible.

    • Oh brother…

      • Seconded.

    • Disloyal and irresponsible? Assuming a healthy sexual span of ages 16 to say 56, that's 40 years, averaging a bit more than one partner every two years. This is disloyal and irresponsible? More and more people are opting to not be married and some are entering polygamous relationships. I don't see what is disloyal and irresponsible about enjoying sex and being open and up front about it.

    • Just because Canadian men may average 23 partners in a lifetime, you make a broad generalization assuming that all of them are "disloyal" and "irresponsible."

  3. As if that weren't enough, Canada boasts some of the most caring and considerate male lovers on the planet.

    I wonder if Canadian women (averaging 10 lifetime partners) think it's considerate that Canadian men (averaging 23 partners) are sleeping around so much. I'll bet most consider it pretty disappointing that Canadian men are so disloyal and irresponsible.

  4. I still say the best sex on the planet is with one partner in marriage for a life time……….a marriage with good communication and mutual understanding……..nothing like it!

  5. I expect that averages of 23 for men and 10 for women is statistically impossible or at least improbable. That is assuming that the bulk of respondants were heterosexual.

    • Agreed Don. When I read this article in Maclean's a few days back I thought if the woman only have 10 partners, then who are these guys sleeping with? Either the men have exagerated their numbers thinking it makes them sound better; or the woman have underestimated so as not to sound promiscuous – probably a little of both.

      • They way I see it, there is probably a small minority of women who "get around."
        Alot.

        …Especially in college.

        • Even if there were, those 'getting around' women would skew their gener's numbers up significantly – exactly enough to make the averages equal.
          If you do some simple algebra, you'll see that the only deviation between these two numbers possible is A: lies, and B: homosexual relationships. I don't think enough of us are gay so… lies?
          perhaps average them. 10 that the women admit to, and 23 that the men claim to have had. 15 in reality?

  6. Let me put it this way: if you're fathering children and moving from woman to woman, you're leaving them in a broken family. That's irresponsible.

    And don't think that contraception lets men off the hook on this one: no non-surgical contraceptive, used perfectly every time, has better than a 97% success rate per year. That means over your 40 years, a contracepting (perfectly every time!) man is going to have a 70% chance of producing at least one child unintentionally.

    That child (usually more than one) will be left fatherless due to his irresponsible and disloyal father, who couldn't keep it zipped long enough to stick around with the mom.

  7. No SINGLE contraceptive has a greater than 97% success rate. Many people use more than one, dropping the rate down significantly.

    Besides, we're talking averages here, not just over the ~40 year span, but over the population as well. Many men will have far less than 10 partners. Plus, there are plenty of guys who will do a mad dash in their teens and early twenties only to settle down later on.

    Yeah, if you're fathering children and moving from woman to woman, that's irresponsible – but nothing in this study gives any indication that Canadian men are more prone to doing that.

  8. couldn't have said it better. Sleeping around doesn't make us sexy, keeping one partner happy and content in and out of the bedroom does.

    • Aww I agree =) One partner is all you need! 23 partners in a lifetime is nothing to be proud of.. it's just gross =P

  9. Looking at some of the statistical analysis of the commenters here, it seems we still have some work to do on our math skills. *sigh* Very sad.

  10. Are you kidding me? Where do they get these stats? I think the majority of people between their late 30's and early 50's definitely had more sexual partners than 30.

  11. As Seal tells us … a happy life is a happy wife!

  12. What a stupid survey, and a waste of time.. I think this is why I am going to start reading more books.

  13. Get over it, people. i'm female and I certainly match the male number. Yes, I'm married. Yes, I have children. Yes, I'm in my forties. No, I'm not irresponsible and running around. What is the big deal about sex? Enjoy it while you can, and for goodness sakes, experiment before you settle down.

  14. This doesn't really seem like anything to be proud of :-I

  15. I'm 18 and have only had one partner, 22 to go.

    • Hahaha same.

    • LOL jokes. don't plan your unhappiness:)

  16. The Durex survey is probably flawed in some way. Consider the source.

    • Considering the source, I would think the survey reliable. However, my Sunday School teacher insists it is not to be trusted.

      Needless to say, I would become quite apprehensive if I were to discover a hole somewhere.

    • Considering the source, I would think the survey reliable. However, my Sunday School teacher insists it is not to be trusted.

      Needless to say, I would become quite apprehensive were I to discover a hole somewhere.

      • Ummmmm, exactly what is it that you would become apprehensive about?

  17. I'm young, female, and idealistic….but those are not bad things to be….I expect my boyfriend to stay true and trusted…and be clean and healthy…there's nothing healthy, physically, emotionally and mentally, with 23 sexual partners per person

  18. 23…seems like canada has men that lie the most.

  19. I think the Canadian men must all be fisherman. The older the story the bigger the fish. I know the Europeans are all full of it but now the Canadians – oh the horror! We all know US men have at least 50 partners sometimes in one day. Although that Canadian girl is hot.

  20. Quite a bunch of horny bastards—Kansas Doctor

  21. How sad that love is being defined by how many sex partners you have. What a distorted and misguided commentary on human behaviour. Love has to do with commitment and faithfulness.

  22. I really doubt how accurate this is. I mean some 40 year old virgin when asked about his sex life isn't going to say that he's a 40 year old virgin. He'll say something like "I've banged like at least 23 chicks." As for myself i am a Canadian male and i have had exactly 103 partners so far in my lifetime and i fall under the age category of 15-64. I can also go 95 minutes in the sac but that's with a few Viagra washed down with a can of Red Bull folks.

    • Love your post lol, I find a lot of you are making assumptions and comments based on nothing, and an average of 23 women in the span of a life time is not that horrible, and i think a lot of you are forgetting that just becuase a man slept with the women doesnt mean it wasn’t a casual relationship they both consented to. The attitudes about sex in younger generations have change quite drastically. Not to mention that people are remaining single much longer then in previous generations. Being single and uncommitted at 30 is very common and lets be honest single or not people still want sex.
      I say all the power to anyone in either a commited relationship or single and in casual ones. As for the averages market research is never accurate. People lie and yes this survey most likely didnt ask detailed enough questions to get a good idea about the accuracy of these averages. I’m not proud of it but my number is alot higher then the national average for women and i’m not even in my thirties.

  23. more sex maybe, more lustful, yes … love .. I don’t think so.

  24. Unless those guys are having lots of gay sex, those statistics are mathematically impossible. All this proves is that people lie about how many sex partners they’ve had.

  25. I’ve had over 80 women. My girl has had 6. I wish we were both virgins.

  26. I am sure that sex workers (prostitutes) were not surveyed. That would account for the greater number for men. Women are less likely to pay for sex when they can get it for free.
    I stopped counting but I have had around 200 partners (women) and I am sure that there are some men with way more than me. Way more. I could have been at 1000 by now if I didn’t restrain myself. I know many women (not prostitutes) who have had more than 50 partners.

  27. As one commenter stated: the Canadian 23-10 disparity is illogical. How are these stats nothing short of hogwash?

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