The complete and unadulterated guide to sex in the Netherlands

Sex in the Netherlands is no taboo subject, as anyone who has taken a stroll through the De Wallen district of Amsterdam finds out. Heck, earlier this year it was ranked the sixth sexiest country!

But what about the love-making of your typical Dutchies?

What are Dutch attitudes towards sex? How are they educated in schools and really? And what’s up with the red-light districts? How low do the lowlanders drop it (and is it hot)?

Time to find out in our (un)official, but still kind of scientific, guide to sex in the Netherlands.

Sex education in Dutch schools

A teacher giving a sex education class in the Netherlands
Don’t text in sex class children, you might miss important info. Image: giovannacco/Pixabay

Sex is, unfortunately, a taboo in many cultures. In their direct, no-nonsense way, the Dutch have adopted an arguably better method than most to educate their citizens about sex.

Sex education in the Netherlands starts at the ripe old age of four, during kindergarten. The Dutch believe that sex is a natural element of life, therefore avoiding the issues that many other cultures struggle with. Open conversation on the matter are encouraged in the Netherlands.

Ever since they are young, Dutch children are taught about sex in an arguably holistic manner. They learn about the need for respect towards your partner, while also learning about the more technical aspects of sex life.

A wide range of topics are coved in Dutch sex ed. From gender identity to boys being encouraged to embrace their feelings. Girls also learn how to make their own choices about sexuality and not give in to societal expectations or peer pressure.

Few topics are left unearthed. Lessons include topics such as oral sex and masturbation, which for many other cultures are topics which can barely be discussed in public.

Teen pregnancy is low in the Netherlands

The success of Dutch sex education is reflected in their low pregnancy rates. While the United States, for example, has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the developed world, the Dutch rate of pregnancy is a staggering four times lower.

Another important aspect of their education is learning about consent. The Dutch learn that sex is something to be done in the context of a relationship based on trust and love. Condoms are easily accessible in stores and at vending machines in schools, while the contraceptive pill is free for any women under 21 years.

And it works! Sexually transmitted diseases are much lower than in the Netherlands than in the United Kingdom or the United States. 

The Dutch model of sex education can therefore be considered a great example of how to deal with the topic. While it might not be applicable everywhere due to cultural barriers, it can still serve as an inspiring example for other nations when trying to develop a beneficial sex education curriculum.

Sex in the Netherlands: when do the Dutch have their first sexual experiences?

two-ladybirds-having-sex-in-the-Netherlands
Patriotic ladybugs getting it on in the presence of the Dutch flag. Image: Jerzy Gorecki/Pixabay

Given their open approach to sex education, a glimpse into the start of their sex life should yield interesting results. A 2012 study on sexual activity conducted by Rutgers found that in the age range between 19-24, over 70% of Dutch men and 77% of Dutch women are sexually active.

Furthermore, the study notes that french kissing is the first type of sexual contact that people have, with 50% of young people around the age of 14 experiencing it. By 16, half of teenagers experienced manual stimulation of the genitals, and by 17, half of them experience oral sex.

Another study reveals that 64% of Dutch men and women feel confident in asserting their needs and desires in bed, and are open towards discussing sex. This is likely a result of the openness of their educational system with regards to sex.

sex-in-the-Netherlands-stats
A helpful graph for the visual learner. Image: DuchReview/Canva

Sex in the Netherlands: how do the Dutch score in bed? (according to themselves)

Dutch-couple's-feet-poking-out-of-the-covers-in-bed
Getting frisky in the Netherlands also means keeping warm. Image: SashaKhalabuzar/Depositphotos

A European wide survey on sex conducted by YouGov looked at how different nationalities self-evaluate their love-making skills. The Dutch appear to think highly of their bedroom etiquette, coming in second in Europe alongside Austrians, first place being taken by the Swiss.

This is higher than the stereotypical love-makers of the continent. These accalades are often associated with the Italians, the Spanish, and the French. Last place goes to the British, perhaps an issue of post-colonial small bulldog syndrome.

Interestingly, the same survey has shown that the Dutch are the least likely to:

  • Be unfaithful (15%)
  • Photograph or film themselves during sex (7%)
  • Have a one-night stand (23%)
  • Send text messages with sexual content (15%)

They are similarly conservative when it comes to:

  • Taking Viagra (5%) — joint third-lowest ranking in Europe
  • Dressing up in a costume during sex (4%) — second-lowest ranking in Europe
  • Going to a strip club (7%) — second-lowest ranking in Europe (it also costs money 😉 )
  • Watching pornography (43%) — second-lowest ranking in Europe

Shockingly, these statistics seem to imply that the Dutchies barely even go to their own red-light districts. Sure, they might have lied in the survey. Or maybe, the thing is that their sex education has made them have a generally healthier sex life. Or maybe all that grey weather and stamppot has made them a bit blander. 👀

Prostitution and red-lights

Red-light-district-in-Amsterdam-at-twillight
The red light distirct is synonymous with sex in the Netherlands, right? Image: rognar/Depositphotos

The Dutch attitude towards prostitution is famous internationally, and there are no better places to gain an insight of the phenomenon than the red-light districts in the Netherlands.

The legal structure on prostitution in the Netherlands is well-developed, with sex workers benefiting from legal protection, and workers rights akin to standard employees. It is estimated that there are around 20,000 to 35,000 sex workers in the country, with a majority of them being foreign (60%).

In the late 1990s, before official legalisation happened, a survey showed that 73% of those asked agreed with legalisation, while 74% believed that it is an acceptable job.

While when most people think of the Red Light District Amsterdam comes to mind first, many are surprised to find that most large cities in the Netherlands, such as Utrecht and the Hague, have their own dedicated area for legal sex work.

In these places, there are strong police presences, dedicated and private car spots to do the deed, and sexual health clinics provided for the workers. It’s all part of making sure sex work is not just legal, but safe.

That being said, cases of abuse do still happen. Also prostitution isn’t completley decriminalised. Unregistered sex workers are illegal, and human trafficking is also of grave concern, as well as links with criminal organisations.

Women from foreign countries are enticed to come to the Netherlands on the promise of working in restaurants or other service jobs. Many find themselves forced into sex work, usually threatened with violence. Estimates per year of victims of these situations range from 1,000 to 7,000.

This has lead to a loss of support from the public in regards to prostitution. There are stronger pushes on the Dutch government to tighten controls, create licensing for brothels, as well as reducing the size of red-light districts. Prostitutes also need to be 21-years-old in order to work as sex workers.

Louise and Martine Fokkens, two famous twins in their 70’s who worked as window girls, claim that the legalisation in 2000 has made life worse for sex workers. They claim that the heavy taxation only ends up benefiting the brothel owners, as well as an increasing in criminality.

Whatever your opinion is on legalisation and its ethical concerns, visiting the red-light district of Amsterdam is still a worthwhile experience — even if you are not there to pay for services.

READ MORE | Sex work is work: etiquette and a guide to Amsterdam’s Red Light District

But seriously, what kind of porn do the Dutch watch?

While the Dutch can be known to be notoriously private individuals, Pornhub is not private with statistics about their viewers. Here are the 2019 stats from the well known adult site.

Pornhub-stats-on-2019-most-searched-porn-terms-in-the-Netherlands
Pornhub Insights is research and analysis directly from the Pornhub team. They compiled data from billions of hits, all to explore the intricacies of online porn viewership.  Image: Pornhub.com/Insights

It seems like the Dutch audience of Pornhub likes to keep it simple and local, with the number one search being “Dutch”. Afterwards, in the true spirit of gender and sexual equality, people searched for “lesbian”.

Mothers are also very much respected and cherished. Interestingly, “hentai” has exploded as a trending search, perhaps owing to a certain nostalgia of the golden days of trading with Japan.

How does a look at regional preferences in porn look like?

Time to really get it on and get stuck in there! Let’s get down into those stats:

Pornhub-2019-stats-on-porn-habbits-in-different-regions-of-the-Netherlands
Pornhub insights by regions of the Netherlands, 2019. Image: Pornhub.com/Insights

North Holland and South Holland prove their love for ethnic diversity, as one would expect of the Randstad. Meanwhile, Groningen, Gelderland, and Friesland seem to fashion a bit of the classic bondage.

What do Dutchies of different ages look at?

Pornhub-2019-stats-on-Dutch-porn-habits
Pornhub insights on what people of different ages look for in terms of categories, 2019. Image: Pornhub.com/Insights

It seems that now we see who is placing “hentai” into the trending list. Youngsters seem very much into it, perhaps a symptom of the digital age. Well-travelled Dutchies between 25-34 seem to have a passion for Indian porn. With the age and increase of sexual experiences, people between 35-44 would like to know more about anal sex.

One of our favourite discoveries is the passion that people aged 45–64 have for German porn, which seems to only increase with time. Any explanations of this weird middle-aged kink for the eastern neighbours?

Finally, people over 65, in a strangely endearing way, look up hand-jobs the most. They also seek acceptance over their bodies while looking for “old/young” porn.


As we’ve seen, the Dutch are quite active beyond just the red-light districts, and their education makes them both well-informed about sex, as well as private about it. Thankfully we get to have a little insight into their kinks, grace to the insights so wonderfully provided publicly by Pornhub.

What are your experiences with sex in the Netherlands? Are the Dutch as good as they claim to be? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image: sasint/Pixabay

Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad was born and raised in Brasov, Romania and came to the Hague to study. When he isn't spending time missing mountains or complaining about the lack of urban exploration locations in the Netherlands, you can find him writing at Dutch Review.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Here in America we start teaching gender from day one. If I’m correct, we even allow complete strangers to teach our kids. It is like this : a complete stranger sees a mother with newborn in the park. Stranger asks, boy or girl, then does their rendition of gender for that baby. They are a stranger. What if they do a strange or weird performance. Seems wacky to me.

  2. I’m Spanish dating Asterdam Netherlands man but he doesn’t touch subject about sex not even close I thought because he’s cultured

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