Summary:  Females with History of Casual Sex Report Most Depressive Symptoms

For females, as the number of sexual partners increase, depressive symptoms increase as well.

According to a study  featured in the Journal of Sex Research, various studies have shown that a majority of adolescents first engage in sexual intercourse before they graduate from high school. Furthermore, other studies have shown that 70% of college students report having had sexual intercourse with individuals they did not consider to be their romantic partner. Casual sex,  as defined by this study, is a sexual relationship in which the partners do not define the relationship as romantic or as their partner being their boyfriend or girlfriend. These “relationships” are mainly based on sexual desires or physical attraction alone and commonly involve drugs or alcohol. In this particular study, the researchers aimed to identify the factors and circumstances associated with those engaged in casual sex and sought to examine the link between casual sex and depressive symptoms..  Researchers used a sample of 404 undergraduate students who were enrolled in an introductory psychology course at a large university in the southeastern United States. Each student completed a Sexual Behaviors Questionnaire which was designed by the researchers to investigate sexual behaviors in romantic relationships and it was modified for this study to also include sexual behaviors with casual partners. Through these questionnaires, the researchers found that casual sex was a fairly common occurrence among the participants in the study. 76% of the sample reported having engaged in intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex, and more than half (53%) of those who were sexually experienced reported having engaged in sex with a partner with whom they were not involved in a romantic relationship. The study found that more than half of the sexually experienced participants reported engaging in sex with partners who they were not involved with in a romantic relationship. The majority of males and females who engaged in sex with a casual partner reported knowing that the encounter was casual and had no expectations other than a physical affair. The researchers also focused on the link between casual sex and psychological functioning.  They found that for females, as the number of sexual partners increased, symptoms of depression also increased. Female partners who had the greatest number of partners had the highest symptoms of depressive pathology. The researchers noted that the association of casual sex and depressive symptoms in females is worthy of further investigation. [i][i]  

 [i][i]No Strings Attached: The Nature of Casual Sex in College Students, The Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 43, No. 3, August 2006, pp. 255-267.

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