LONDON (Reuters) - Britons are not having as much sex as popular perception might suggest and most intimate relations that do take place are likely to be between established couples, according to official data Wednesday.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said 16 percent of men under 70 and 12 percent of women under 50 had had no sexual partners in the previous year.
The data also showed that 73 percent of men had had just one partner with just 12 percent having more than one. For women that figure was 81 percent for one partner and 7 percent for more.
The proportions of both men and women who did not have a sexual partner in the previous year was highest among those aged under 20 -- 38 percent and 36 percent -- which goes some way to exploding the myth that all Britain's youth is sexually active.
One third (33 percent) of all men and just over a quarter (27 percent) of all women who were single had not had a sexual partner.
Sex experts said the figures were a better reflection of the nation's sexual activity than that which is often portrayed in the media.
"We are constantly being presented with inaccurate data that everyone is 'at it like rabbits' which makes people feel worried," Dr Petra Boynton of University College London told the Daily Telegraph.
"Sex is overhyped in our culture and because we have a more sexualised culture -- the media covers sex a lot more in terms of music, and 'sex and lifestyle' are huge commodities -- people think they should be having sex more," the psychologist said.
"These are actually quite comforting figures. We are not a nation that sleeps around or takes risks."