Number of women who have had a same-sex partner increases four fold (Reuters)

The number of British women having same-sex partners has quadrupled over the last 10 years, rising from 1.8% to 7.9%.

These findings were part of a nationwide report published in The Lancet that looks at how sexual attitudes and behaviours have changed over recent decades.

The third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) showed a significant shift in the attitude and behaviour among women, suggesting that female sexuality is becoming more accepted in society.

Findings showed that the average number of partners over a woman's lifetime has more than doubled since the first survey took place in the 1990s, rising from 3.7 to 7.7. Among men, the figure increased by just over a third, from 8.6 to 11.7.

The number of men reporting having same-sex partners increased only slightly, from 3.6% to 4.8%.

Kaye Wellings, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which took part in the study, said: "The change in women's behaviour across the three surveys has been remarkable.

"In some areas of sexual behaviour we have seen a narrowing of the gender gap, but in others we have seen women overtaking men in the diversity of their behaviour. These trends need to be seen against the backdrop of the profound changes in the position of women in society, the norms governing their lifestyles, and media representations of female sexuality."

Half of men and a third of women still think same sex relationships are wrong (Reuters)

Despite a rise in female sexuality, the report also found that one in 10 women are victims of rape at some point in their life, compared to one in 70 men. Participants were asked whether they had ever had sex against their will, rather than if they had been raped.

Lead author Wendy Macdowall told the Guardian that the survey shows the huge discrepancy between crime figures and reality (statistics show just 3.8% of women have been raped).

"We know that people who have experienced what would meet the legal definition of rape do not describe it as such. We've always known police reports are the tip of the iceberg and there's always been the suspicion the crime survey figures are low" Macdowall said.

The survey involved 15,162 people aged between 16 and 74 who lived in Britain between 2010 and 2012.

The report also shows that attitudes towards sex are changing. In the first Natsal survey, published during the 1990s, 78% of men thought that male same-sex relationships were wrong on some level, while 76% felt the same about female same-sex relations.

However, there is still widespread prejudice towards LGBT couples among Britain's male population. Fifty two percent of men still think that male same-sex relationships are wrong, with 48% saying the same of female same-sex partnerships.

The increase in tolerance among women is far more marked, with the number accepting gay and lesbian relationships rising from 28% to 66%.

Commenting on the study, Ruth Hunt, the deputy chief executive of LGBT charity Stonewall, said: "Attitudes to gay people have undoubtedly changed over the past 20 years. But there's still much to be done to challenge homophobia."