Despite America's superpower status across the globe and the fact we can claim sex icons George Clooney and Kate Upton as our own, Americans overall are not as sexually satisfied as our foreign brothers and sisters. While some of us certainly hold progressive views about sex, we are still considered by and large a puritanical society, which may explain our mediocre levels of satisfaction. Conservatives and right-wing Christians have long fought hard against political reform to liberalize sex in the United States, from limiting reproductive rights and sex education to lobbying against gay marriage and sex work. But what effect, if any, has this had on our sexual satisfaction?
Countries that are more socially liberal and have relaxed attitudes toward sex tend to have lower rates of STDs, teen pregnancies and abortions, and much more satisfying sex lives in general. On the other hand, just belonging to a socially repressive culture doesn’t always equate with satisfaction or how often populations get down—take Russia, where 80% of the population has sex at least once a week.
In any event, one thing remains certain. Americans are having a lot less sex than our friends overseas. Studies show people in other countries have up to 70 times more sex than we do. Indeed, Americans are only about 48 percent sexually satisfied. So how is sexual satisfaction measured? According to Durex global research, the drivers include: mutual love and respect between partners; freedom from stress; ability to orgasm; freedom from sexual dysfunction; good mental and physical health; and frequency of sex and foreplay. Oh... and having an exciting sex life! A 2014 study revealed that socio-economic status also impacted levels of sexual satisfaction.
After sifting through all the wacky data and numerous studies out there, AlterNet has formulated a list of countries that consistently rate among the most sexually satisfied, in no particular order. It’s time to reignite our nation’s prowess... in the bedroom.
1. Switzerland: Whether it’s the progressive views on legal prostitution, the popularity of licensed brothels, liberal stance on pornography, or controversial sex education programs which begin as early as kindergarten, one thing is certain: Switzerland is consistently rated as one of the most sexually satisfied nations around the globe. A 2013 study revealed that 21 percent of Swiss nationals rate their sexual performance and their sex lives as “excellent." Thirty-two percent have even had sex in public places. Yet, somehow, amidst all that fornicating, the Swiss still manage to have one of the lowest teen birth rates in the world. In 2012, a United Nations survey revealed that the teen birth rate in the United States was almost 10 times higher than in Switzerland.
2. Spain:Sexually charged Spain, with its nude beaches and high social acceptance of gay marriage, recently topped the world’s “best male lover” list in a poll surveying 15,000 women globally about which nationality of men could best float their boat. Don’t believe those stats? Just ask the Spaniards themselves. A quarter of the population of Spain rates their sexual performance as excellent. Indeed, a recent study looking at 9,850 people in Spain revealed that 90 percent of Spanish men and women were sexually satisfied. Unsurprisingly, their levels of sexual satisfaction rose over time with a stable partner as opposed to casual encounters.
3. Italy:With an abundance of good wine and good food, it’s no wonder Italians rate high on the sexual satisfaction scale. According to Men’s Health, sexual seduction in Italy begins at the table as food and sex are inextricably linked. This may be the reason Italians are considered among the top lovers in the world. Italian women also seem pretty content with their love lives—and women who have two glasses of wine daily enjoy greater sexual satisfaction than those who didn’t drink. (Shiraz anyone?) This year, 64 percent of Italian men and women rated their sex lives as satisfying, with a third of Italians expecting sex to last more than 10 minutes.
4. Brazil:With curves to die for, infamous “Miss Bum” competitions annually, and men regarded as the world’s second best lovers (second to the Spaniards), Brazilians make the list as a highly sexually satisfied nation. While the stats vary on just how often Brazilians are banging—one report claims 82 percent of Brazilians have sex at least once a week; another says it’s 145 times on average a year (which equates to roughly three times a week)—it's obvious Brazilians enjoy their sex lives. These Latin lovers also tend to lose their virginity before people in almost any other nation. Naughty, naughty!
5. Greece:The reason the Greeks are so sexually satisfied is that they are less uptight about discussing their sexual desires. In fact, the Greeks have been talking about sex for centuries. In the fourth century BCE, Hippocrates spoke explicitly about the inevitability of sexual desire: “In the cases of women…when during intercourse the vagina is rubbed…an irritation is set up in the womb which produces pleasure and heat in the rest of the body.” Touché! Even today, Greeks commonly discuss sex at work, with friends, and most importantly, with their partners. Communication makes for a better sex life, period. Of course, the great weather, beautiful islands and healthy diet can’t hurt. Durex claims Greeks have the most sex in the world weekly (164 times on average a year). As for the Greeks themselves, they say they’re 51 percent sexually satisfied.
6. The Netherlands:The Netherlands has a reputation as being one of the most pro-sex countries in the world thanks to its famous red light district, abundance of nude beaches and open sex education policies. In addition, 64 percent of Dutch men and women are confident at asserting their needs and wants during sex and are more open about sex in general. Comparatively, only half of Americans say they're comfortable asserting their sexual desires. Remarkably, Holland has a teen birth rate of only 5.3 per 1,000 compared with 39.1 per 1,000 in the United States, as well as a much lower abortion and HIV rates, AlterNet reported. Twenty-two percent of the population rates the quality of their sex lives as excellent.
7. Mexico:Mexico has been previously rated as one of the “horniest countries” in the world and ranks as the second most sexually satisfied nation in the world with 63 percent of the country claiming a fulfilling sex life. Why? Perhaps it’s their candidness with regard to sex education. In 2008, Mexico City distributed over 700,000 sex-ed textbooks to the high schools that cover birth control, abortion and homosexuality. Or it might have something to do with the fact that sex work is decriminalized and regulated in half the country's states. (Unfortunately, decriminalization hasn’t curtailed Mexico’s human trafficking problem as Mexico still remains one of the leading hot spots for child sexual exploitation in the world.)
8. India:Despite the fact that Indians wait the longest to have sex for the first time (the average age to lose one’s virginity is 22 years old), the country has consistently been rated among the top satisfied nations in recent years. The secret to Indians' sexual bliss is a bit of a mystery, but there are a couple of theories. Men’s Health says Indians enjoy prolonging sexual pleasure—apparently the journey is more important than the destination. Think Tantric sex. Indian men are also more likely to spend time on the process of seduction and foreplay compared to other countries. Then again, other studies reveal Indians are the quickest at performing in the bedroom: the average time spent on sexual intercourse is 13 minutes. Despite the variations, Indians rate their sex lives pretty high with 61 percent considered satisfied.
9. Australia:Outdoor shenanigans may be the key to sexual satisfaction in the land down under. Seventy-five percent of Australians claim to have had sex on the road, with vehicles proving to be quite the aphrodisiac. What’s more, Cosmo says 27 percent of Australian women “wouldn’t change a thing about their sex lives.” Aussie women are also quite likely to fantasize about having a threesome, with 20 percent listing this act as their favorite sexual fantasy as opposed to only four percent of Americans. As far as sexual partners go, Australians are more promiscuous than most. Twenty-five is the average number of sexual partners Aussie men have had, compared with 13 for their American counterparts.The women, on the other hand, fare more equal with 10 and 9 the average number of sexual partners for Australian and American women respectively.
10. Nigeria:According to Durex, Nigeria is rated the number-one sexually satisfied nation in the world with 67 percent of its population claiming sexual gratification. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Nigerians also take the longest time having sex, at 24 minutes per average session. The stats come as rather surprising given Nigeria’s conservative views on same-sex marriages, having recently banned these unions, and the prevalence of Islamic extremism, which dominates the country. Then again, Nigerian women have also been ranked the most unfaithful in the world with 62 percent having admitted cheating on a partner. I digress.
11. Germany:Despite Germany being marked as having the world’s “worst lovers” for being “too smelly” the country does rank highly as a sexually satisfied nation. Germany is home to some of the world’s most comprehensive sex-education programs and is known for its progressive political policies in relation to sex work. The sexual excitement element also seems to be in full swing. Thirty-two percent of Germans profess to having had a one-night stand and 30 percent have had sex in a public place. Like other Western European countries, Germans rate their own sexual performance as excellent. Germany fares better than the United States as far as sexually transmitted disease goes: it has one-sixth the HIV rate of the United States.
12. China:China is sexually satisfied? Well, not exactly. But no list would be complete without throwing in a wild card. Besides, while the People’s Republic is one of the most conservative and repressive societies in the world, behind closed doors its population is having more sex weekly than most other nations. Seventy-eight percent of the population in China is getting down to business at least once a week. The secret to sexual satisfaction in China? Technology, according to Men’s Health. The majority of Chinese men follow up after a successful date… with an email. Cyber sex anyone? What’s more, in the past 10 years, sex shop and online purchases have boomed in China. Most would be surprised to learn that China even has a SEXPO in Shanghai, and that 70 percent of the world’s sex toys are manufactured in China
Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.