The world’s largest survey on sexual behaviour has found that Turkey is the most virile nation on earth, but doctors and scientists are urging caution on its findings, branding it “unscientific.”

The Durex Global Sex Survey asked 317,000 participants in 41 countries about their sexual habits, and will be published in this months Foreign Policy magazine.

While the general trend is for individuals in richer countries to have a larger number of sexual partners, Turks seem to buck the trend, totting up 14 partners in a lifetime.

Italians reported 12, the United States and Switzerland 10, France eight, Spain six, while Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China and Hong Kong all reported between two and six.

In general, low income countries average 6.3 sexual partners in a lifetime, middle-income countries 8.6 and high-income countries 9.7.

But Turkey’s relatively low income status and conservative social culture have led some critics to question the results.

“It is nonsense,” Alper Mumcu, gynaecologist in Istanbul’s American Hospital, told the Turkish Daily News.

“It’s an internet survey, not a scientific health survey. Maybe just high income people filled it out.

“It’s a commercial thing.”

Critics say the figures reflect tendencies among the well-off in Istanbul as opposed to the habits of the general population. Others mistrust any survey based on internet responses because it can only reflect certain socio-economic groups.

General manager of Durex Turkey, Erdinç Nuray, disagrees.

“Turkish people are known as good sexual partners and we believe having 14 partners in a lifetime is in line with reality. Those are the results totally based on the answers of respondents,” he told the Turkish Daily News.

He admitted the company had no idea which part of the country the respondents lived, however.

“In developed countries they have a more free life than in Turkey, they can go out and date and have different sexual partners. Those things in Turkey are still taboo,” he continued.

“In Turkey, in urban areas, people have a more free life and can thus have more partners. There are also many people having sex with different sex workers before they get married.”

The survey found the average age Turks lost their virginity was 16.

Norway had the highest number of people having unprotected sex, with a massive 70 percent of Norwegians admitting to doing it without knowing their partners sexual history.

On the other end of the scale, only 25 percent of respondents in India or Hong Kong had had unprotected sex.

Gays, lesbians and transsexuals registered similar levels of unprotected sex as their straight counterparts, with 45.3 percent of men and 48.4 percent of women admitting to it.

In fact, variations in unprotected sex due to identity are very low. Women and men, gay and straight, married or single, all produced similar results.

The most important variable for the likelihood of having unprotected sex is simply promiscuity.

The survey found that the more partners an individual has, the greater the chance of them having unprotected sex.