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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