MSP or multiple sex partners is the incidence and measure of involvement in sexual activities with two or more two people within a specific time period. Sexual activity with multiple sex partners can happen serially or simultaneously.

Multiple sex partners include sexual activity between people of a different gender or even of the same gender.

Multiple sex partners can even mean that one person may have a long-term relationship or maybe a relationship, and when the second relationship starts, the person can be said to have multiple sex partners. Another term, known as polyamorous, is the behavior and not the measure describing multiple romantically sexually, or romantically committed relationships at the same point in time.

Younger adults having multiple sex partners in the last year is an indicator used by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC to evaluate risky sexual behavior in adolescents and monitor the changes in the worldwide HIV/AIDS infection deaths and rates.

The likelihood of developing dependence or substance abuse increases linearly with the number of sex partners, and it is an effect more pronounced for women. People who have a greater number of sex partners do not have higher rates of depression and anxiety.

 multiple sex partners

Health risks:

Having multiple sex partners increases the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. It may result in pregnant women with a greater risk of contracting Human immunodeficiency virus.

HIV is strongly associated with having multiple sex partners. Having multiple sex partners is even associated with higher incidences of sexually transmitted infections.

Strategies to prevent such diseases include intensive counseling of those individuals who have already met the definition of multiple sex partners.

One of the primary contributing associations to the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Human Immunodeficiency Virus epidemic is the risky behaviour of having multiple relationships or sex partners.

A Behavioural Surveillance Survey in the year 2004 demonstrated that 78 percent of females and nearly 89 percent of males aged 15 to 24 had sex with a non-marital or no cohabitating partner in the preceding 12 months.

Nearly 16 percent of females and 56 percent of males had multiple relationships or sex partners in the preceding 12 months.

In Sub-Sahara Africa, travel and wealth is a risk factor in engaging in sexual activities with multiple sex partners.

Benefits of having Multiple Sex Partners:

The individuals who have a more than one sex partners and who have sex more often, are proved to have lesser risks of being diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Sex is considered to be a pleasurable activity and there are several benefits of having sex such as it slashes your stress levels, helps to maintain good sexual health, boosts your libido, lowers your blood pressure and many more. Sex can even be counted as an exercise.

Sex helps you lose five calories per minute, it bumps your heart rate and involves the use of various muscles. Having sex often, helps you to fall asleep faster as after the activity, a hormone named prolactin is released and it is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and it causes sleepiness.

Also Read: Sexual Intimacy: Impotence Shouldn’t Come In The Way Of Love

Cancer Risk:

If you require more than two hands to count the number of lovers or count the number of relationships you’ve been in, then in accordance to the new study, you might want to worry about your cancer risk.

People who have had 10 or more than ten relationships or sexual partners had higher odds of cancer risk and even being diagnosed with cancer than those who were less sexually active, the researchers of the study reported.

The females with that number of sex partners, faced nearly double the risk of developing cancer as women who remained virgins or only had one sexual partner, the study found. Meanwhile, men’s odds of facing cancer risk or being diagnosed with cancer were increased by about 70 percent compared with those men reporting at least one or no sex partners at all, and by 57 percent for those who had two to four relationships or sex partners during their life.

“We expected there to be an association between number of sexual partners and cancer risk as previous research has shown that specific sexually transmitted diseases may lead to several cancers,” said the co-author of the study, Lee Smith, the director of research at the Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University based in England.

The study even stated that a higher number of sexual partners meant greater potential exposure to sexually transmitted infections. “It is interesting that the risk is higher in women when compared to men,” Lee Smith stated. “This may be because the link between certain STIs and cancer is stronger in women, such as HPV and cervical cancer, compared to HPV and penile cancer.”

For the study, Lee Smith and his colleagues drew on the data gathered for the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, a tracking study of people with 50 years of age and older.
During the 2012-2013 phase of the ongoing study, nearly more than 5,700 participants were asked how many relationships or sexual partners they’d had during their lives.

The researchers of the study compared their answers to self-reported diagnoses of cancer. The participants had an average age of 64, and about three out of four of them were married. Nearly 41 percent of the women and 28 percent of the men said they were virgins or had only one lifetime sex partner, whereas 8 percent of women and about 22 percent of men reported of having 10 or more relationships or sex partners.

Sexually transmitted diseases are the main suspect in the increase in cancer risk, but the people having more sex partners even tended to indulge in other risky behaviours, Lee Smith pointed out. “In our study, those with a greater number of sexual partners were more likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol frequently, behaviours known to be associated with cancer risk,” Smith stated. “It is possible that the number of sexual partners one has had captures a combination of likelihood of exposure to STIs and lifestyle profile”, Smith continued.

The study was published on February 13 this year in the journal BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health. Two health experts from the United States not involved with the study commented on the findings. “While interesting, this study has flaws that make it hard to draw meaningful conclusions about what it found”, exclaimed Doctor Konstantin Zakashansky, Icahn School Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“Both, sex and cancer are touchy subjects, and it’s questionable whether one can trust people to accurately report either their promiscuity or their cancer diagnosis”, claimed Konstantin.

“The problem is people over-reporting, underreporting. You don’t know how truthful they are,” explained Zakashansky. “There’s also recall bias, where they genuinely don’t remember.” These are the real problems with the study, agreed Mia Gaudet, who is the scientific director of epidemiology research with the American Cancer Society.

But Gaudet even claimed that the report does shine a spotlight on a potential cause of cancer that requires further findings and research. “The overall conclusions are consistent with what we know about the potential role of viruses in cancer, and support further study,” said Gaudet.

Human papilloma virus or HPV has been linked to oral, cervical, anal and penile cancers, Gaudet noted, while hepatitis B and C are tied to cancer risk in the liver. It is more likely that other viruses might be linked to having cancer risk of other forms. “Sexual health is something that’s understudied because of the taboos around it.

While this study isn’t ideal, it’s helpful to have some information around this space,” explained Gaudet. “In the meantime, people who’ve been promiscuous should talk with their doctor”, Lee Smith stated.

“People who had risky sexual encounters should contact their health care providers to get checked for potential sexually transmitted infections and should discuss openly about how to minimize this risk,” continued the co- author, Lee Smith. “Using appropriate protection will reduce the risk of related cancers going forward.”


Tags: Side effects of having multiple partners, Multiple sex partners risk factors, Can you get an std from having multiple partners

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Natasha Patel

Natasha Patel is the senior writer for the women’s health edition at She worked as a primary care provider before joining the writer’s panel of the blog. She is also trained in routine obstetrics and continues to practice in Oklahoma, where she lives with her family.