Here's How Often You Should Be Having Sex, According to Experts
TURNS OUT, THERE’S NO MAGIC NUMBER.
We hate to break it you, but if you're looking for an easy answer on how much sex you should be having with your partner, you won't find it. When it comes to relationships, different partners, sexual preferences, and the physical or emotional state you and your significant other are in all play major roles in determining what's right for you. Even if you're happy with your sex life, you could be asking yourself: Am I having enough sex?
And you wouldn't be alone, either. "Couples very often grossly overestimate how much sex other people are having and compare themselves to inaccurate ideals," explains Danica Mitchell, an NYC-based sex therapist and social worker.
The reality is, it's complicated. There is no hard and fast number for how often happy couples have sex, but there are important conversations you should have with your partner to determine what's right for you. To help you navigate this complex space, we asked the experts all your burning questions about what's "normal" when it comes to sex.
How often do couples have sex?
One 2017 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior revealed that the average American adult has sex 54 times per year (or about once per week). A frequently-cited study published by the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science found that, of 30,000 couples studied, that once per week figure was the "Goldilocks" for how frequently couples had sex and still felt happy.
But, while these numbers give a baseline for the typical American, the Archives of Sexual Behavior also noted that age played a significant role, too. According to their findings, Americans in their 20s had sex an average of about 80 times per year, compared to about 20 times per year for those in their 60s.
"Some couples can be happy having sex once a year. Others need it once a day," relationship expert and counselor Rachel Sussan says. "Everyone is different, and that doesn't necessarily make one relationship better or stronger than the other."
Moreover, let's not forget that these benchmarks can easily change. "You cannot expect your partner's desire for sex to align with yours every day, week, month of year of the course of a lifetime," says Jess O'Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast."Your desire for sex will inevitably be misaligned at some point during your relationship (even if you want it with the same frequency today), and this misconception—the notion that you should find a compatible partner as opposed to become compatible—can lead to disappointment, tension and conflict."
The short version? How often couples have sex can vastly differ, but stats show that once a week is regular for many.
Does how often you have sex even matter?
"This is a tricky question," says Mitchell. "How often you are having sex matters if one or both partners are unhappy with the sexual relationship. When couples are unable to communicate about this and find a sexual frequency and style that works for both (or more) of them, it can definitely start to matter more."
One thing that all our experts agreed on: If you're satisfied with where you're at sexually, then it's not worth comparing yourself to others. Plus, how much a person's sexual frequency impacts their life and relationship is entirely personal.
"Some people don't want to have sex, and that is their healthy baseline," O'Reilly points out. "Some asexual folks, for example, have no interest in sex and can have happy, intimate relationships. Others want to have sex every day, so you'll be much better off if you discuss your desires from the onset of the relationship and continue to talk about frequency—and other sex-related topics—on an ongoing basis."
At the end of the day, if all involved are satisfied with their sexual relationship regardless of how often sex is occurring, then frequency doesn't really matter. Just be tuned into how your sexual frequency is making you feel. Sari Cooper, director of The Center for Love and Sex in New York City, says that couples who have sex less than 10 times a year and are distressed about it might want to seek out a sex therapist to help them investigate what the reasons might be—and hopefully recharge that sensual connection.
What are the benefits of having regular sex with your partner?
Beyond just strengthening the connection between you and your partner, regular sex can lead to a spicier, more adventurous love life, and have some pretty nice health benefits, to boot.
"For many couples, some sexual connection provides a kind of glue to renew their emotional bonds and the physical space to play creatively and explore new erotic arenas," says Cooper. The more regularly you have sex, the more comfortable you might feel with one another, leading to a heightened desire to try new things.
O'Reilly also lists a slew of benefits from pain relief thanks to hormonal changes in the body that accompany arousal and orgasms, to stress relief and lowered blood pressure from an increased heart rate. Some people may even reap some beauty benefits. O'Reilly cites a study conducted by clinical psychologist David Weeks, where that those who reported having sex an average of four times per week looked approximately 10 years younger than their actual age—so the benefits go beyond just yourself and your partner.
Ultimately, the decision to have an open discussion about how frequently you and your partner have sex is a personal one. You won't get anywhere by reading up on what you should or shouldn't do.
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