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Age pattern of sexual activities with the most recent partner among men who have sex with men in Melbourne, Australia: a cross-sectional study
  1. Alex Kilner1,2,
  2. Christopher K Fairley1,3,
  3. Sam Burrell1,3,
  4. Catriona S Bradshaw1,3,
  5. Marcus Y Chen1,3,
  6. Eric P F Chow1,3,4
  1. 1Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Melbourne Medical School, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Associate Professor Eric P F Chow, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Melbourne, VIC 3053, Australia; eric.chow{at}


Background Sexual behavioural studies among men who have sex with men (MSM) are predominantly focused on penile-anal intercourse. Other non-anal sexual activities are under-studied. This study aimed to examine the age pattern of a range of sexual activities among MSM with the most recent male sex partner.

Methods We conducted a survey among MSM attending the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre in 2017. This survey asked about nine different sexual activities with their most recent regular and casual partner. A Chi-square trend test was used to examine the age patterns of each sexual activity.

Results A total of 1596 men answered the survey and their median age was 30 (IQR 25–37) years. With casual partners, kissing was the most common activity (92.4%), followed by performing penile-oral sex (86.0%) and receiving penile-oral sex (83.9%). The least common activity was insertive rimming (38.1%). Young men were more likely to engage in kissing (ptrend<0.001), receptive rimming (ptrend=0.004) and receptive penile-anal sex (ptrend<0.001) but they were less likely to have insertive penile-anal sex compared with older MSM. With regular partners, the most common activity was kissing (97.4%), followed by touching penises (90.0%) and performing penile-oral sex (88.3%). Age was not associated with most types of sexual activity with regular partners except mutual masturbation and receptive penile-anal sex. Younger men were more likely to masturbate mutually (ptrend=0.028) and engage in receptive penile-anal sex (ptrend=0.011).

Conclusions The pattern of sexual activities shows age-related differences with casual partners but less so with regular partners in MSM.

  • sexual behavior

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  • Contributors AK performed the statistical analysis, data interpretation and wrote the first manuscript draft. EPFC and CKF conceived the study idea and designed the study. EPFC assisted with statistical analysis and oversaw the study. All authors provided data interpretation, revised the manuscript for intellectual content and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding EPFC is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Emerging Leadership Investigator Grant (GNT1172873). CKF and CSB are supported by an Australian NHMRC Leadership Investigator Grant (GNT1172900 and GNT1173361, respectively).

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from the Alfred Hospital Ethics Committee, Melbourne, Australia (Number 512/16).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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