Sex in Norway: Norwegian Sex Habits Revealed in New Study

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There's been an increase in the variation and diversity in the sex lives of Norwegians. That's the verdict of a new study from the University of Oslo. Read on for the details, if you dare…

Popular culture has brought about a change in sexual habits among Norwegians according to a leading researcher in sexual psychology.

Body sculptures in Vigeland Park, Oslo. Photo: BGStock72 / Shutterstock.com
Vigeland Park, Oslo. Photo: BGStock72 / Shutterstock.com.

“Through the media, people have gained a lot more knowledge about the fact that there are many different ways of ‘doing’ sex,” said University of Oslo researcher Bente Træen.

Multiple partners, sexual encounters outdoors, group sex, anal sex, BDSM? You may be surprised at the sexual habits of Norwegian people. Before we get into the details, here's a little about the study.

A sex study in Norway

With the help of Norsk Gallup, several researchers at the University of Oslo's Department of Psychology asked 4,160 Norwegians aged between 18-89 years about their sex lives. Træen has led several such surveys since the 1990s.

Among the respondents, there were 2,181 men and 1,967 women. 93.5% identified as heterosexual. 2.6% identified as gay or lesbian with 3.3% identifying as bisexual.

Bodies under bedsheets.

The results were published in the article ‘Sexual Variety in Norwegian Men and Women of Different Sexual Orientations and Ages' in The Journal of Sex Research.

More sexual experimentation in Norway

The study found an increased sexual diversity among generations born after 1960. They have more varied sexual experiences than previous generations, according to the study.

Read more: The Joy of Faen & Other Norwegian Swear Words

Specifically, the most common of these experimental experiences are:

  • Having sex in unusual places (61%)
  • Using sex toys (56%)
  • Watching porn with a partner (42%)

Researchers were surprised with what topped the list. Træen said it might have something to do with a common sexual fantasy of being discovered: “So having sex in an entryway or at the beach can be experienced as very exciting.”

A sex shop entrance in Norway.
Adult shops in Norway don't tend to be hidden away.

Another interesting finding in the survey is that oral sex is no longer considered experimental. 41% of the men and 45% of the women who were in a couple responded that oral featured the last time they had sex.

Differences based on gender and sexual orientation

All participants had some fairly common experiences. These included using sex toys, having sex in unusual places, and watching pornography together. However, there were many notable differences in experiences and desires based on gender.

For example, men were more keen on the idea of sex with multiple partners and experimentation with role play. Træen said that group sex is a very common sexual fantasy for men.

There was also a notable difference in experiences based on sexual orientation. For example, almost half gay or bisexual men (48.5%) reported group sex experiences compared with just 15.5% of straight men.

Norway rainbow flag.
The study found that homosexual men and women were far more likely to be experimental.

There was a similar pattern among women, although the difference was less pronounced. 29.3% of lesbian or bisexual women reported group sex experiences compared with just 10.8% of straight women.

Read more: LGBT Equality in Norway

Less common experiences

According to the survey, the least common sex habits in Norway are:

  • Swinger's clubs and switching partners (2%)
  • BDSM (10%, but more common among under 30s)
  • Role play (13%)

Træen explained the difference in numbers between the reported group sex experiences and swinger's clubs as a contextual one.

“It can happen that you have sex with multiple partners at a party, when it happens spontaneously, but that there's a higher threshold for going to an actual swinger's club,” she said.

An intimate couple.

Overall conclusions on sex habits in Norway

The study concluded with four main findings:

  • Given that adults 30 to 59 years old had greater sexual variety and variability than those below 30 years old, this difference suggests that individuals accumulate sexual experiences over time
  • There may have been a generational shift in the types of activities participants have tried or want to try when comparing those aged <60 and ≥60 years, with substantially lower sexual variety among the latter
  • Experimentation with BDSM activities was most common among adults aged 18–29 years
  • The sex lives of gay/lesbian and bisexual participants were characterised by more sexual variety than heterosexuals.

Positive trend, but be aware of boundaries

One leading psychologist and professor believes people's openness to sexual diversity is a positive thing. “This might be one of the positive effects of the fact that people watch more porn than previously,” said Frode Thuen to VG.

However, he warned of the importance to be aware and respectful of boundaries: “The biggest danger of sexual experimentation is that you take it too far. That you end up doing something you didn’t really want to do.”

“It can be a nice thing to accommodate your partner when it comes to sexual preferences and desires, but it should not conflict with your own boundaries and preferences,” he added.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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