Dutch study says swingers have more STI’s than even prostitutes

PosterSince 2008 Dutch government has been trying to track sexually transmitted infections amongst swingers.  They set-up a system in the free health clinics whereby workers ask those coming in for STI testing whether or not they are a swinger.  Their findings are shocking, but only having seen numerous media reports in the past couple of days about the study (the report isn’t available on the British Medical Journal website, yet), I feel their findings are inaccurate.  First, here’s their basic finding according to the news outlets:

  • 1 in 9 heterosexuals that were tested were identified as swingers.
  • The combined rates of Chlamydia and gonorrhea were 10.4% for those they identified as swingers.  People who identified as simply straight had an infection rate of 10%, gay men had a 14% infection rate and prostitutes had a 5% infection rate.
  • Swingers over 45 had higher rates of infection than those under 45.

The biggest problem I can see with their research is how they identified swingers.  From the news articles I have read the Dutch researcher’s criteria for “swinger” is anyone who came in that identified themselves as a heterosexual, is part of a couple and has sex with other heterosexuals besides their primary partner.

By this definition this could also be people who are cheating on their partner.

By definition swinging is when partners in a committed relationship agree, as a couple, for both partners to engage in recreational sex with other people.

The Dutch researcher’s contend that based on their research 12% of the population is swingers.  Every other estimate in the world puts this number closer to 1% or less.

My personal findings show less than this if you are only looking at those couples actively seeking others to have sex with them.  Looking at the most popular dating site in my area, and just at couples in my state over the age of 25, with a photo (figuring those without at least some kind of photo is not a serious profile), muliplying that by 2 (since they are a couple) and dividing that by the population of the state shows that about 0.2% of the population of this great state is actively looking to swing. Or in simple math, 1 in 500 people.  Or, about 40 people at an average NBA game (don’t ask why I calculated that much less looked-up average NBA game attendance).

Of course there are those that are what I call “opportunistic swingers” who don’t advertise or are actively looking but if the opportunity presents itself with the right person/people they are all in.  Still, they are not enough to bring that number to 12%.

My experience in the swinger community is that safe sex and condom use is the rule, not the exception.  There are those that play bareback, however most of those are only with an individual or couple they are exclusive with.  No swinger wants to get an STI much less infect their spouse, also.

Let’s look at cheaters, though. I’ve covered this in several other posts and statistically conservative estimates are that somewhere between 40% and 50% of men cheat and 30% to 40% of women cheat.  That puts our NBA game attendance of cheaters somewhere in the neighborhood of just under 4,000 women and 5,000 men sitting in the arena.

Knowing this, and knowing the researchers only asked about heterosexuals in couples who have had heterosexual sex with someone besides their partner; and knowing that safe sex practices are low amongst cheaters, doesn’t it seem plausible that many of those the researchers are labeling as swingers are in fact cheaters and it’s skewing the data to the tune of 30X plus?

And finally, the most overlooked statistic from the study: “Swingers” had a 0.4% higher instance of STI’s than heterosexual non-swingers in the study.  You know, the general public.  So where’s the news here?  That those tagged as “swingers” in the study have the same instance of STI’s as anyone else in general society?

Just ranting out loud here…

EDIT:  A point that was brought-up to me on Twitter, and I feel is a great point, is that the research was done at clinics testing for STI’s.  People don’t usually go to a doctor unless they are sick, and in the same respect many people don’t go to a clinic to be checked for an STI until something starts to itch or burn or for some other reason they think they should get checked.  So the data you would get from a clinic of people testing positive for STI’s compared to those that test negative would be skewed when compared to general society.

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