Photos of men dressed like Royal Queen's Guards in Union Jack underwear
Image via The Gaily Grind

“The best things in life are free” my ass. Here’s how much it costs to have sex in the UK

Your average lay can be pretty damn expensive

“The best things in life are free”, said The Flying Lizards. But the cynical gargoyle that rents space in my body knows something doesn’t add up. What free things, exactly? Green spaces? Air? Laughter? Please. Like the vast majority of living and breathing adults, I thought about the cost of one thing, and one thing only: sex.

Sweet, delicious, sexy sex. The sex that I can’t write about because my parents still think I’m a virgin. It’s an overriding instinct that sets us back incredible amounts when capitalism rears its fishnet-laden legs.

But how much, exactly?

Well, safety first: Condoms.

They exist in all colours, shapes and sizes, and believe it or not, the neon ones don’t stop us contracting gonorrhoea.

Europe represents the largest value market for condoms at a heady 25% taking. The few sex surveys we have available in the UK (for aren’t we a shy bunch?) indicate that at £6.62, we pay 7p below the European average for a ten-pack of Durex Pleasuremax.

Thank goodness we don’t have the cost of Catholic guilt weighing us down as it doesn’t come cheap: Ireland and Italy pay a whopping £8.99 and £12.76 respectively for the same package of dotted sheaths.

But our bargain might not last for long: it looks like Durex is going down the slippery slope of buying K-Y Jelly lubricant for a cool $400 million. Top tip: turn to eBay ASAP and get on the bulk-buying hype of buying one hundred mixed condoms for a mere fifteen quid while we can.

Screen shot of Ebay page for 100 condoms
AND you get 13 Nectar points.

Cost Counter
Three condoms, Durex Pleasuremax (£6.62 pack average): £1.98
KY Jelly: £4.29
Total: £6.27

...and safety second: the pill

It's the titan of the U.K birth control scene: the contraceptive pill, the hormone-inducing tablet that 1.5 million women take under the flag of the Union Jack each year.

And how much for that? The NHS protects us from paying any costs towards the contraceptive pill, so there’s no price negotiations to be had in the free market: instead, the NHS business tariff is left to work out the maths.

Cilerin is the most expensive pill going at £126.75 a year, with Micronor costing a minute £7.80. If everything goes to shit and you don't have time for a doctor's surgery or sexual health clinic, you're left with the stress and hefty price tag of the emergency contraceptive pill; up to £31.60 per tablet.

Isn’t there anything cheaper (and/or less sexist) out there?  Male contraceptives like Vasalgel, the non-hormonal polymer injection are set to hit US markets in 2018 for around $800. Although clinical trials for the male pill are underway, common side effects like mood swings and acne are already deterring participants from taking the tablet in the future (...sound familiar ladies?).

Alternatively, women might swap the hormonal toil of the pill for the coil which could save the health service £1bn per year.

Cost Counter
Three condoms, Durex Pleasuremax (£6.62 pack average): £1.98
KY Jelly: £4.29
Micronor: £7.80
Total: £14.80

Girls (and sex robots) just want to have fun?

It's not just protection bumping up the bill. It's the countless products and methods on the market helping us get our hands on the kind of love the sex industry's advertising department is convinces us we need.

High Street sex shop Ann Summers made a cool £140 million turnover last year. Their online rival Love Honey saw their profits soar to the heights of £60 million in the same period.

If you've got a million dollars, you could splash out on a Pearl Royal vibrator (platinum and diamond encrusted, no less). For the rest of us, the average Rampant Rabbit is a bargain at around £35, depending on its attendance in the shower and ability to perform magic tricks.

Photo of the Pearl Royal vibrator
"This unique piece of functional jewellery art is the most lavish and opulent sexual device ever conceived."

The male equivalent, the fleshlight, can cost up to £65 per piece. The robot sex doll – a hedonistic convergence of the Terminator and Spike Jonze’s Her – could set you back £12,000.

... Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with the Poundland vibrator. Bargain.


Cost Counter

Three condoms, Durex Pleasuremax (£6.62 pack average): £1.98
KY Jelly: £4.29
Micronor: £7.80
Rampant Rabbit + Fleshlight + Sex Doll = £12,114.80

...and if you skip step one...

In the abyss of our most popular form of exercise, sometimes we come out the other side with a nasty little gift that cannot be refunded. The Family Planning Association believes that sexually transmitted illnesses cost the NHS £620 million per year, with roughly 435,000 diagnosed in the UK every year.

Chlamydia (or K-Mid for the more fashionable amongst us) is the priciest, costing the NHS £2320 million a year (around £506 per head) in diagnosis and treatment. Syphilis is the cheapest, at a mere £13 million per annum.

From a consumer perspective, we can thank our lucky stars for free STI tests... though nothing can alleviate the price of the humiliation of contacting that person from the back of the Uber whose name we can't remember with the bad news.

Cost Counter
Three condoms, Durex Pleasuremax (£6.62 pack average): £1.98
KY Jelly: £4.29
Micronor: £7.80
Rampant Rabbit + Fleshlight + Sex Doll = £12,065
Chlamydia diagnosis: 506
Total: £12,620.80

The grand total?

Sex robot
More price-conscious readers may want to skip the sex robot

Looks like sex sets ups back around £12,620.80 per person, give or take a sex robot or two. Not to mention the NHS bill (thanks, welfare state...!)

Still. The passion, the love and the exercise? Priceless.

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  • Macrocompassion

    Look to who owns the land of Greece and why they are not using it properly!

    Discover how much the value of the land is being speculated in by holding it unused and the resulting lack of opportunity. Why can’t small scale farmers begin their own production of farm produce and the selling of it to local suppliers for domestic consumption?

    Adam Smith (“Wealth of Nations”,
    1776) says that land is one of the 3 factors of production (the other 2 being
    labor and durable capital goods). The usefulness of land is in the price that
    tenants pay as rent, for access rights to the particular site in question. Land
    is often considered as being a form of capital, since it is traded similarly to
    other durable capital goods items. However it is not actually man-made, so rightly
    it does not fall within this category. The land was originally a gift of nature
    (if not of God) for which all people should be free to share in its use. But its
    site-value greatly depends on location and is related to the community density
    in that region, as well as the natural resources such as rivers, minerals,
    animals or plants of specific use or beauty, when or after it is possible to reach them. Consequently,
    most of the land value is created by man within his society and therefore its
    advantage should logically and ethically be returned to the community for its
    general use, as explained by Martin Adams (in “LAND”, 2015).

    However, due to our existing laws, land is owned and formally registered and its
    value is traded, even though it can’t be moved to another place, like other
    kinds of capital goods. This right of ownership gives the landlord a big
    advantage over the rest of the community because he determines how it may be
    used, or if it is to be held out of use, until the city grows and the site
    becomes more valuable. Thus speculation in land values is encouraged by the law,
    in treating a site of land as personal or private property—as if it were an
    item of capital goods, although it is not (Mason Gaffney and Fred Harrison:
    “The Corruption of Economics”, 2005).

    Regarding taxation and local community spending, the municipal taxes we pay are
    partly used for improving the infrastructure. This means that the land becomes
    more useful and valuable without the landlord doing anything—he/she will always
    benefit from our present tax regime. This also applies when the status of unused
    land is upgraded and it becomes fit for community development. Then when this
    news is leaked, after landlords and banks corruptly pay for this information,
    speculation in land values is rife. There are many advantages if the land
    values were taxed instead of the many different kinds of production-based
    activities such as earnings, purchases, capital gains, home and foreign company
    investments, etc., (with all their regulations, complications and loop-holes).
    The only people due to lose from this are those who exploit the growing values
    of the land over the past years, when “mere” land ownership confers a financial
    benefit, without the owner doing a scrap of work. Consequently, for a truly
    socially just kind of taxation to apply there can only be one
    method–Land-Value Taxation.

    Consider how land becomes
    valuable. New settlers in a region begin to specialize and this improves their
    efficiency in producing specific goods. The central land is the most valuable
    due to easy availability and least transport needed. This distribution in land
    values is created by the community and (after an initial start), not by the
    natural resources. As the city expands, speculators in land values will
    deliberately hold potentially useful sites out of use, until planning and
    development have permitted their values to grow. Meanwhile there is fierce
    competition for access to the most suitable sites for housing, agriculture and
    manufacturing industries. The limited availability of useful land means that the
    high rents paid by tenants make their residence more costly and the provision
    of goods and services more expensive. It also creates unemployment, causing
    wages to be lowered by the monopolists, who control the big producing
    organizations, and whose land was already obtained when it was cheap. Consequently
    this basic structure of our current macroeconomics system, works to limit
    opportunity and to create poverty, see above reference.

    The most basic cause of our continuing poverty is the lack of properly paid
    work and the reason for this is the lack of opportunity of access to the land
    on which the work must be done. The useful land is monopolized by a landlord
    who either holds it out of use (for speculation in its rising value), or
    charges the tenant heavily for its right of access. In the case when the
    landlord is also the producer, he/she has a monopolistic control of the land
    and of the produce too, and can charge more for this access right than what an
    entrepreneur, who seeks greater opportunity, normally would be able to afford.

    A wise and sensible government would recognize that this problem derives from
    lack of opportunity to work and earn. It can be solved by the use of a tax
    system which encourages the proper use of land and which stops penalizing
    everything and everybody else. Such a tax system was proposed 136 years ago by
    Henry George, a (North) American economist, but somehow most macro-economists
    seem never to have heard of him, in common with a whole lot of other experts.
    (I would guess that they don’t want to know, which is worse!) In “Progress and
    Poverty” 1879, Henry George proposed a single tax on land values without other
    kinds of tax on produce, services, capital gains etc. This regime of land value
    tax (LVT) has 17 features which benefit almost everyone in the economy, except
    for landlords and banks, who/which do nothing productive and find that land
    dominance has its own reward.

    17 Aspects of LVT Affecting Government, Land Owners, Communities and

    Four Aspects for Government:

    1. LVT, adds to the national
    income as do other taxation systems, but it replaces them.

    2. The cost of collecting the LVT is less than for all of the production-related
    taxes–tax avoidance becomes impossible because the sites are visible to all.

    3. Consumers pay less for their
    purchases due to lower production costs (see below). This creates greater
    satisfaction with the management of national affairs.

    4. The national economy
    stabilizes—it no longer experiences the 18 year business boom/bust cycle, due
    to periodic speculation in land values (see below).

    Six Aspects Affecting Land Owners:

    5. LVT is progressive–owners of
    the most potentially productive sites pay the most tax.

    6. The land owner pays his LVT regardless of how his site is used. A large
    proportion of the ground-rent from tenants becomes the LVT, with the result
    that land has less sales-value but a significant “rental”-value (even
    when it is not used).

    7. LVT stops speculation in land prices and
    the withholding of land from proper use is not worthwhile.

    8. The introduction of LVT initially reduces the sales price of sites, even
    though their rental value can still grow over a longer term. As more sites
    become available, the competition for them is less fierce.

    9. With LVT, land owners are unable to pass the tax on to their tenants as rent
    hikes, due to the reduced competition for access to the additional sites that
    come into use.

    10. With LVT, land prices will
    initially drop. Speculators in land values will want to foreclose on their
    mortgages and withdraw their money for reinvestment. Therefore LVT should be
    introduced gradually, to allow these speculators sufficient time to transfer
    their money to company-shares etc., and simultaneously to meet the increased
    demand for produce (see below).

    Three Aspects Regarding Communities:

    11. With LVT, there is an
    incentive to use land for production or residence, rather than it being unused.

    12. With LVT, greater working opportunities exist due to cheaper land and a
    greater number of available sites. Consumer goods become cheaper too, because
    entrepreneurs have less difficulty in starting-up their businesses and because
    they pay less ground-rent–demand grows, unemployment decreases.

    13. Investment money is withdrawn from land and placed in durable capital
    goods. This means more advances in technology and cheaper goods too.

    Four Aspects About Ethics:

    14. The collection of taxes from
    productive effort and commerce is socially unjust. LVT replaces this extortion
    by gathering the surplus rental income, which comes without any exertion from
    the land owner or by the banks–LVT is a natural system of national income-gathering.

    15. Bribery and corruption on information
    about land cease. Before, this was due
    to the leaking of news of municipal plans for housing and industrial
    development, causing shock-waves in local land prices (and municipal workers’ and
    lawyers’ bank balances).

    16. The improved use of the more
    central land reduces the environmental damage due to a) unused sites
    being dumping-grounds, and b) the smaller amount of fossil-fuel use, when
    traveling between home and workplace.

    17. Because the LVT eliminates
    the advantage that landlords currently hold over our society, LVT provides a
    greater equality of opportunity to earn a living. Entrepreneurs can operate in
    a natural way– to provide more jobs. Then earnings will correspond to the
    value that the labor puts into the product or service. Consequently, after LVT
    has been properly introduced it will eliminate poverty and improve business