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How sex-happy is your U.S. city?

September 13th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Men’s Health reports that Austin, Texas, is the most sexually active city in the United States, but I knew immediately I couldn’t believe it.

I knew because the highest ranked California city is Bakersfield, which came in 9th out of 100. Any native Californian knows this is not possible. Even Bakos know it’s not possible, and they live there!

Things to do in Bakersfield

The magazine based the rankings on condom sales, birth rates, sex toy sales from and Pure Romance home parties, and the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported by state health departments.

I confess that I can’t help but look into these kinds of things. I can’t see an internet poll without voting, a quiz without taking it, or data (however bogus) without drilling down. Back in my Sex Drive days, I could roll around naked in Pew Research Center for hours and hours.

In this case, I couldn’t help myself. I had to look for the cities where I have lived. (San Francisco, 74th; Los Angeles, 54th; Sacramento, 36th). Even though the magazine considered sex toy sales information from just two retailers, whose combined annual sales are a wee fraction of adult retail grandaddymommy Adam & Eve. Even when the rankings are reported without a key to how they weighted each factor (lower birth rates could indicate more contraception-enabled sex, and lower condom sales could indicate higher rates of birth control pills, IUDs, and implants).

Men's Health List Logo

Austin ranks 1st in condom sales, 15th in birth rates, and 23rd in STD infections. Bakersfield boasts the 12th highest condom sales, the 3rd highest birth rate, and the 48th highest STD rate, which makes me wonder if people are buying the condoms but not using them properly. A higher rate of condom sales should translate to lower rates of STD transmission and pregnancies. Typically, condoms have about an 85 percent effectiveness rate as a contraception. (Birth control effectiveness comparison at

Sex toy purchases are not broken out as a category on their own, alas.

DarkladyPortland, Oregon, has a reputation as a relatively sex-friendly city. Free speech advocate Darklady resides there, as does Onyx game developer Franklin Veaux. Yet Men’s Health ranks Portland as the least sex-happy city on the list, number 100. It has one of the lowest rates of condom sales (95th), yet it also has the lowest rate of STD transmission (100th) and has almost the lowest birth rate (95th — lower than Yonkers, New York, but higher than Burlington, Vermont.)

Men’s Health inflates its Web traffic numbers by putting one city on a page, forcing you to click through 100 times to see them all. The print-friendly version only includes the top 10 and the bottom 10. This irritates me so much, I don’t even want to give them link love, but of course that would be rude of me. Also, I don’t want to make the decision for you. Maybe you need a distraction from the workday and want to see each city individually. So, ClickClickClickClickClick.

If not, Austin blogger Robert Quigley helpfully lists all 100 cities by their overall sex happiness rank.

What number is your city? Do you think it’s about right?

Tags: Statistics (real and imagined) · geography

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MyPleasure // Sep 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I think you make some really great points here. Some of these statistics seem to conflict with each other and don’t make a whole lot of sense when all added up together.
    I also wonder if they’re including the LGB folks in this because the birth rates may be a bit lower for them. That might also help to explain why SF is only at #74 even though people are naked in the streets, there’s an abundance of sex clubs, and a general celebration of sexuality from many people.
    Which also brings up the point – what are they counting as sex?
    Lots of things to think about here. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and getting the conversation rolling.

  • 2 Regina Lynn // Sep 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    “What are they counting as sex?”

    Penis-in-vagina penetration of course. What else is there? *evil grin*

    I think the article did exactly what it was meant to do: get a lot of people excited enough to click through and drive up website traffic.

    And now the people who did the research and aggregated all the totals can put on their resumes that they increased web traffic 55,673% by producing provocative content and promoting it across the internet. LOL

  • 3 TheVigrXMan // Oct 10, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Men’s Health also says, “Of course, without surveillance equipment it’s impossible to know precisely how much sex people are having.” What do you think is a good measure of what sexy is?

  • 4 Regina Lynn // Oct 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I think the closest we could come would be to add a few questions to the U.S. Census and hope that most people report honestly. “How often do you have sex, whatever ’sex’ means for you?” “How often are you glad you did?”