What time of the year are people most interested in sex? A new study says the early months of summer – and of winter are when people are looking for sex. Though summer is perhaps expected, due to the heat and the more revealing clothing, winter may come as a bit of a surprise since eating during holiday festivities does not lead to people being in peak physical condition.

Villanova researchers Patrick and Charlotte Markey studied internet searches for sex, and found that they peaked in June and July and again during the winter. They analyzed data from January 2006 to March 2011, and the trends were consistent from all the years that they studied.

They found that, during those times, people searched more often for pornography, match-making sites and prostitutes. Researchers also controlled by looking at trends for unrelated searches, like for dog or cat images.

Their findings are consistent with peaks in birth, abortion, and STD diagnosis rates which indicate rates of sexual activity. Researchers have previously asserted that the reasons for such rates were that people prefer giving birth in the late summer or fall.

They found that prostitution-related searches increased by 2.78 percent during those peak periods, mate-seeking services increased by 5.67 percent in January and July, and pornography searches increased by 4.28 percent above average in December and June.

They noted that, when analyzing their data, they needed to throw out one outlier. In March 2008, in the wake of New York governor Eliot Spitzer's prostitution scandal, searches for prostitution increased dramatically to 35 percent above average.

Patrick and Charlotte Markey theorize that the reasons for increased sexual interest probably lie in increased human contact. During the holiday season in December, where people are brought together for Christmas and especially New Year's Eve, people have more social contact than during other parts of the year. During the summer, too, there is an increased amount of social activity.

Other explanations for increased birth, abortion, and STD diagnosis rates are that sperm are more viable during certain parts of the year. Hormones have also been credited (or blamed, depending on where you stand on the issue).

The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.