Mumbai: More than 90% of Indians have their first sexual encounter before reaching the age of 30, according to data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in 2015-16.
The data shows that men are most likely to have had their first sexual intercourse between the age of 20 and 24 years while the peak age for first sex is 15-19 for women.
The difference of sexual relations between the genders is primarily because of the difference in the ages of their getting married. According to the data, most sexual encounters in India are of conjugal type. Hence, women are likely to have sex at an earlier age as they get married at a younger age.
However, there are important differences in the sexual life across people with different educational qualifications. People who opt for higher education and spend a longer period in college get married lately. Therefore, the age for the first sexual encounter for those people happens later.
The data of the survey suggests that having sex before marriage is still a taboo across large section of the country. Only 11 per cent of single men and a meagre 2 per cent of single women in the age group of 15-24 reported having had sex.
The percentage of single men in the age group of 15-24 having sex before marriage was relatively higher in Chhattisgarh (21.1%) and Madhya Pradesh (20.7%) among the major states. The NFHS data on sexual relations was collected on a sample of more than 100,000 men and women each.
The people in North India have a more active sex life in comparison to those in the South, the data suggests. Over 55% of both men and women respondents in Haryana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal said they were having sex in the four weeks prior to the survey. Other states where a majority of people reported an active sex life are Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. About 47% of men and 48% of women reported having sex over the past four weeks across the country.
The proportion of single people having an active sex life is lower compared to the overall average: 3% of single men across all age groups reported having sex in the four weeks prior to the survey. Among single women, the figure is even lower at less than 1%.
States such as Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have higher (above 5%) proportion of sexually active single males. Higher proportion of sexually active single females is found in0 Karnataka (2%) and Gujarat (1.9%).