12,354 men at the age of 45 spoke about sex for a study by the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The study makes some discrepancies statistically tangible for the first time: for example, about ten percent of gay men have had sex with a woman in the last three months. About 6 percent were "hidden homosexuals", who saw themselves as homosexual, but had sex only with women and were often married.
Over the course of two years, physicians interviewed men aged 45 in Düsseldorf, Hannover, Heidelberg and Munich about their first sexual encounter, their sexual orientation, the number of partners and their sexual practices. The study director is Prof. Kathleen Herkommer, Senior Physician at the Department of Urology at the TUM University Clinic rechts der Isar.
First sexual encounter at 18
The men had their first sexual encounters at the age of 18 – with women – regardless of their current sexual orientation. Only two years later, on average, some had sexual contact with men and here, too, regardless of their orientation in the study. The study director explains this as follows: "This is probably the result of a discovery phase in which different sexual orientations are tried out."
The study also included questions about the type of sexual intercourse the men had had in the past three months. Vaginal sex was clearly number 1 in heterosexual men (98%), followed by oral sex, which accounted for nearly 60%. This type of sex was most commonly practiced by homosexual men (91%), far less often anal sex (64%).
One in ten homosexual men had had intercourse with women in the past three months. Similar studies from Australia, Belgium or the USA had not yet identified this deviation from sexual orientation and sexual behavior.
Majority in long-term relationships
By the age of 45, the majority (98%) of heterosexual men had had sex with up to ten different persons. About one-third of bisexual men and just under half of homosexual men were significantly more active sexually: they had had more than 30 different sexual partners.
At the age of 45, over three-quarters of heterosexual men had been with their partners between five and ten years, and over half of homosexual and bisexual men were also in a stable and long-term relationship. Around 70 percent of heterosexual men were married, 80 percent had become fathers.
Homosexual men with wife and children
Noticeable discrepancies between stated sexual orientation and lived sexuality were especially evident among homosexuals. "We identified a group that recognizes its homosexuality, but do not live it, and instead lead and have led a purely heterosexual life – often with a wife and children. There is evidence that such a discrepancy can lead to mental health problems. Our study provides important data to further explore this phenomenon," says Prof. Herkommer and adds: "Other studies have already indicated that this group exists, but we have now demonstrated it scientifically for the first time." This bracket comprised 5.9 percent of the homosexual men surveyed.
Veronika E. Goethe, Hannes Angerer, Andreas Dinkel, Christian Arsov, Boris Hadaschik, Florian Imkamp, Jürgen E. Gschwend, Kathleen Herkommer, Concordance and Discordance of Sexual Identity, Sexual Experience and Current Sexual Behavior in 45-year Old Men: Results from the German Male Sex-Study, Sexual Medicine, October 2018, DOI: 10.1016/j.esxm.2018.08.001
Prof. Dr. Kathleen Herkommer MBA
Department of Urology
TUM University Clinic rechts der Isar
Tel.: +49 (0)89 4140 – 7322
The data was collected as part of the PROBASE study, which identifies the risk of prostate cancer in young men and is funded by Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Aid).
- Department of Urology at TUM University Clinic rechts der Isar (in German only)
- CV of Prof. Kathleen Herkommer (in German only)