Brits 'have sex 900m times a year'

The famous phrase "no sex please, we're British" may be a long way off the truth, as new research suggests Britons are having sex a total of 900 million times a year.

Statisticians at the University of Cambridge found by looking at the results from the three last British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles that conception only occurs in 0.09 per cent of heterosexual sex.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, stated that this means only nine out of every 10,000 encounters results in a baby.

This does not mean people should throw away their condoms however, as using protection is the only way to both avoid an unwanted pregnancy and also to not contract sexually transmitted infections.

"It means that for every conception there are 999 heterosexual acts without procreation. There is a lot more non-procreative sex going on now," Prof Spiegelhalter said.

The risk specialist, who was knighted in the Queen's birthday honours list that was released earlier in the month, noted that Britons are now having sex later in their lives than ever before.

He said: "The biggest change from the 19th century is in women's lives. In the past, sex was often dangerous for them in many ways including childbirth, illegal abortions and disease. Nowadays there is more opportunity to have consensual sexual relationships, safe births and to control fertility."

The development of the Pill was widely credited with handing women more control over their sex lives, but many females still prefer to use condoms as their main contraceptive method because of the side effects linked to many of their other options.

A male Pill has long been mooted, but its development has regularly stalled and it appears likely the arrival of this new contraceptive innovation is some distance away in the future.

The research by Prof Spiegelhalter and his colleagues drew on data from 15,000 Britons and found that 42 per cent of women aged between 65 and 74 and 60 per cent of men in the same age bracket were still having sex.