According to new figures released by the sexual health team at Lloydspharmacy*, today’s women have three times more sexual partners by the time they reach 24 than women of their grandmothers’ generation had by the same age.
The sexual health team’s results show that young women today have an average of 5.65 different sexual partners by the time they are 24. By contrast women of their grandmothers’ generation had an average of 1.67 and women of their mothers’ generation had 3.72 sexual partners by the same age.
Looking back over the decades since the War and the end of rations, the research shows that young women in the supposedly ‘Swinging Sixties’ had the least number of different sexual partners whilst young women in the ‘Noughties’ had the most.
Cancer Research UK statistics show that incidence rates of cervical cancer in women under the age of 25 have not decreased despite better screening**. Lloydspharmacy believes the increase in the number of sexual partners could be one reason why.
The last ten years have seen significant decreases in cervical cancer cases in women in older age groups but worryingly, diagnoses of the infection in women under the age of 25 have not followed the same trend**.
The community pharmacy chain is urging women of all age groups to get themselves protected against the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection and one of the major causes of cervical cancer***.
“HPV infections are very common, especially in younger people”, said Clare Kerr, Lloydspharmacy’s head of sexual health. “If you are sexually active the cervical cancer vaccinations is one of the most effective ways to prevent infection with high risk forms of HPV.”
Women can receive cervical cancer vaccinations at 240 Lloydspharmacy branches throughout the UK. Other sexual health services available at Lloydpsharmacy branches or through the Online Doctor services on the website include genital Chlamydia and genital gonorrhea treatment.
Key research* insights for women between the ages of 18 and 24:
2000-2009 – women averaged over five different sexual partners, with 8% claiming to have had more than ten different partners
1990-1999 – women averaged under five different sexual partners
1980-1989 – 24% of women had three to five different sexual partners by the time they reached 24
1970-1979 – 24% of women had two to four different sexual partners by the age of 24
1960-1969 – almost 50 per cent had only one sexual partner by the age of 24