One in ten men in Britain report paying for sex sometime in their life – a national study

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) is a survey of men and women carried out in the Britain every 10 years. It remains the most extensive and accurate study of sexual behaviour in a carefully selected population of men and women in the UK that reflect the population of sexually active individuals.

Natsal-3 is a  sample survey of 15,162 men and women (6,293 men) aged 16–74 years, resident in Britain, undertaken between September 2010 and August 2012. Participants were interviewed using a combination of face-to-face, computer-assisted, personal interviewing (CAPI) and computer-assisted self-interviewing (CASI). The more sensitive questions, including those on paying for sex and sex while outside the UK, were asked in the CASI.  

Kyle Jones and her colleagues reported on the results of the questions relating to men who admitted to have paid for sex. 

Their results show that round one in 10 men in Britain report having ever paid for sex at some time. These men are more sexually active than men who do not report having had paid for sex. They have a higher number of sexual partners, only a minority (18.4%) of which are paid.

They are also more likely to report a diagnoses of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) even when accounting for their disproportionately larger number of sexual partners (which is considered the most important behavioural variable associated with STI diagnoses).

This evidence strongly supports the idea that this subgroup of men are a bridge for the sort of sexual mixing (dissociative mixing) that increases the spread of STIs.

Men who pay for sex (MPS) are most likely to be aged between 25 and 34 years, single, in managerial or professional occupations, and have high partner numbers.

After adjusting for the key risk behaviour of sexual partner numbers, these men still report many other sexual behaviours, such as having new foreign partners while outside the UK, less attendance at STI clinic and less condom use. They therefore show an increased vulnerability to STI without taking the necessary precautions.

Interestingly, for some reported behaviours, such as sex partners outside the UK, same sex contact, sex partners found online, and concurrent partners (more than one partner at any time), total and paid partner numbers increase.

This suggests that MPS exhibiting these behaviours have higher lifetime partner numbers than other MPS as well as higher paid partner numbers, putting them at a higher risk for STIs than other MPS.

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