How Often Do Couples Have Sex?

Ah, the ultimate question of sex and coupledom finally knocks on my door as well. The golden ratio of sex vs. commitment, obligations, family life, kids, work… and the list goes on and on, is not an easy thing to find once you fall into the machine. Which is why this question of how often couples have sex lingers in everyone’s minds. 

I mean, has it ever happened to you to just look at a certain couple, the way they behave with one another, and try to figure out the number of times they have sex? Have you ever tried to figure it out based on the vibe they generate as a union? I know I have! I guess this is a result of the gossipy tendencies in us, of our curious minds, and of the part in us that always wants to compare and compete with others. 

Which is why we often tend to think that the number of times people have sex per week equals how happy they are as a couple. But is this a mistake? And really, what’s the ratio of how much and how often couples actually have sex and how often they should have sex? 

Well, folks, I’ll try to answer all of this and more in this article. Everything you wanted to know about how often couples have sex should be right here. So make sure to read on! 

What the Data Says About Couples Having Sex 

Well, according to a 2015 study done by researchers from the Department of Psychology, at the University of Toronto Mississauga, “[F]or people in relationships, sexual frequency is no longer significantly associated with well-being at a frequency greater than once a week.”

So, as you can see, even if committed or married couples have sex every day or more than once a week, it doesn’t mean that they’re happy and fulfilled couples. 

Of course, having sex regularly has lots of benefits – that’s well known by now. From alleviating stress to lowering your chance of prostate cancer, sex can help with a lot of psychological and physiological issues in both men and women. 

Now, another thing is the variable of sexual frequency through history. For example, a 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior was looking into how often American adults have sex from 1989 to 2014. The interesting find was that along the years, the sexual frequency between married or committed, long-term couples declined. As opposed to that, the sexual frequency among, as they call “unpartnered individuals” remained the same, which means that the “marital/partnered advantage for sexual frequency” got reduced. 

People nowadays have less sex than before 

What does this tell us? Well, the conclusion of the study was that Americans nowadays have sex less often because there is “[A]n increasing number of individuals without a steady or marital partner and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners.” Also, bear in mind that this wasn’t connected with more pornography use or long working hours. 

Basically, millennials are generally having less sex, as opposed to the baby boomer generation and the ones after it. And, this is not just in the US – it’s also the same in the UK, in Australia, Finland, and one might guess to a number of other developed countries throughout the west. 

Why is this so? Why do people have less sex?

It’s mostly younger people that have less sex, meaning people born after the 1990s (commonly called millennials) and people born after the 2000s (often called Generation Z). 

And there’s more than one reason as to why this is. If you want to go in more depth on this issue, I suggest you check this huge article akin to a research study by the Atlantic. Basically, it gets down to:

  • People masturbating more;
  • Helicopter parents; 
  • The intricacies of hookup culture; 
  • Dating apps and online dating, making it harder to flirt in public;
  • Bad and painful sexual experiences and lack of proper sexual education;
  • Inhibition and problems with body-image;
  • Stress, depression, anxiety, overall unstable economic, and social situations.

And then there’s also the increasing reluctance to get into serious and long-term relationships. People are becoming pickier every minute. And while that might not be such a bad thing, it definitely affects how often people have sex and how likely they are to enter into a committed relationship with all the trouble and blessings it brings with itself. 

How Often Do Couples Have Sex?

Okay, so we looked at some important statistics about sex, couples, singles, and intergenerational differences in sexual frequency. Now it’s time to get to the actual question of how often couples actually have sex.

And after that, I’d like to discuss how often couples should have sex. 

According to the same study I quoted above, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which encompassed 26,000 people between the years 1989 and 2014, an American adult has sex about once a week, or 54 times in one year, on average. 

And what about married couples – how often do they have sex? 

Well, for married couples it’s roughly the same, it amounts to about 51 times a year, which is also around once a week. 

All of these numbers also have to do a lot with age. So, 20-somethings will have sex about 80 times per year, while 60-something people will have sex about 20 times per year. 

Here I’d also like to point out that sex is a broad term and can include a number of sexual activities, and definitions of it may vary from one couple to another as well as from one person to another. 

So I guess once a week on average isn’t all that bad. But should we have more sex? 

How Often Should Couples Have Sex? 

As it turns out, there’s no one answer and there are always accompanying explanations alongside each. 

There isn’t a magic number as to how often you should have sex. It depends on your personal preferences and needs, as well as those of your partner. It also depends on your daily dynamics as a couple, your current circumstances, and your physical and emotional states. 

See, there are many variables to it, which is why it’s such a delicate and personal question, to begin with. 

And, of course, how much sex you’re having per week or month or year can and will change throughout your relationship. For some people, once a week is just enough. For some, it’s too little, and for some, it might even be too much. That’s for every couple to determine by themselves, claims sex therapist and social worker Stefani Goerlich for The Insider. And the key is, of course, communication. 

As you can see, it’s not solely about the numbers. It’s more about your own relationship to sex, about the sexual relationship with your partner and whether you generally feel fulfilled or not, and about your levels of intimacy or the lack of it. Sheer numbers won’t save the marriage or the relationship if it’s in trouble. As Christene Lozano says, another sex and marriage therapist that comments for The Insider, “instead of looking for a non-existent rule about how much sex you should be having […] focus on your sexual relationship and what it means to the both of you.” 

Who Has Sex the Most and Who Has It the Least? 

In general, people who are in a committed (long-term) relationship or are married tend to have more sex than single people or people with more casual relationships. 

Also, people who’ve recently entered a relationship tend to have more sex on average than people who’ve been together for a long(er) amount of time. 

Couples with young kids or babies, women in late pregnancy, and the years immediately after giving birth are all connected with low rates of sexual activity. This is mostly due to too many obligations around the house, the kids, not enough time, being frequently tired, lack of space to be intimate with (kids sleeping in their parents’ bedrooms), etc. 

Elder couples can still have a great sex life

And, of course, getting older also usually means you get to have less sex, often because of sexual dysfunction, illness or physical difficulties, and a loss of libido. It may also be due to people spending a lot of time together, for example, couples who’ve been together for decades. Of course, it doesn’t mean that if you’re with someone for 40 years you’ll end up not having sex at all eventually. There are lots of old(er) couples who still enjoy great sex life. 

It’s definitely important to maintain desire in old age since it keeps being tied to the partners’ overall well being and feelings of happiness and contentment. Your health in old age may very well depend, to a certain extent, on your sex life in marriage/relationship. In general, people with better sex lives tend to live longer. Yeah, let that sink in. 

And, it’s also important to remember that sex isn’t only penis-vaginal intercourse. It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different couples out there, and it depends widely on their own capabilities, preferences, and needs. Sex is about enjoyment, pleasure, and having fun, and that shouldn’t be forgotten. 

Biological basis for the once a week average

There are many factors in play explaining why we have sex once a week on average. Daily dynamics of life certainly play a big role here, but biology and genetics might also play one as well. As it turns out, some people simply have a gene that’s more responsive as a dopamine receptor than other people, whose receptor is less responsive. 

Also, couples who are trying to conceive may also have sex more often. And vice versa – couples who have sex more often are more likely to reproduce (of course, this is only important if that’s their goal). 

How Your Sex Drive Changes Throughout Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s

Your sex drive changes as you grow older, that’s no secret. Of course, you won’t be able to see this dramatic shift right away, because it’s spread out throughout the decades, with a number of factors being responsible for it. 

The sex drive itself is composed and influenced by both biological and psychological elements. In terms of psychological factors, stress is the number one killer of desire. Depression and anxiety are also hovering close by, and often the medications that people are taking for them can also lower the libido, which is a huge bummer. 

How you relate to your partner, what you feel towards them also affects desire. If you tend to prioritize sex in your relationship, then your libidos will probably often be more elevated. The lifestyle you lead is also a factor here – keeping up healthy habits such as exercising often and eating healthy, as well as getting enough sleep can all influence your sex drive as well as your overall health. 

And then we mustn’t forget hormones. Sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (which women produce as well, in much smaller amounts than men), lower their levels in the body as time goes by, and all of them play a significant role in our arousal, affect desire, the ability to achieve an orgasm. 

As we can see, the libido is a complex mix of what we do, how we see ourselves and our partner (our identity and the identity of our relationship), our feelings, and also the way in which we desire and what we desire. 

Of course, none of these changes are applicable to all people in the same way, but there is a certain pattern that’s more likely to happen as the decades flow by. 

Sex drive in your 20s

For a lot of people, this is the decade for having lots of sex! Libido is rocking, desire is at an all-time high, and there’s a reason for that. First of all, everything is new and fresh and the thirst for novelty seems to increase by the minute. New relationships, lots of opportunities for a hookup, the biological drive to make babies, all of that affects your sex drive at this age. 

However, not all women and men feel this way. Sex drive can also be low at this age, due to birth control pills (which prompts lower levels of testosterone and vaginal dryness), as well as a number of other stress and anxiety-related conditions. 

Sex drive in your 30s

In our 30s, the levels of testosterone start to decrease, which causes a natural response of decreased sex drive. 

Plenty of social and family factors play a role here in decreasing our libidos. People are busy working on their careers, while also having kids and taking care of their families, which often means a lack of sleep and a decrease in energy. 

The end of the 20s and all across the 30s is also an age where lots of women have babies. The hormonal shifts that happen throughout pregnancy, and during the breastfeeding phase, can affect the sex drive. 

Stress can also influence the decrease of testosterone and it can elevate levels of cortisol in your blood, all affecting your sex drive for the worse. 

But, don’t let that discourage you. Lots and lots of people still have great sex lives in their 30s and beyond. In this age, you’re more likely to know more specifically what you want from your partner, both in terms of relationship expectations, and in terms of your sexual activities. You’re also likely to have better orgasms and actually know what you’re doing – you’ll probably be more experienced, and that’s not a small thing!

Sex drive in your 40s and 50s

Hormonal changes happen more at this age, especially for women, since a lot of them enter perimenopause, aka the 5-10 year long period before the onset of actual menopause. This is the time when the ovaries slowly stop the production of estrogen. In perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations, and hormonal dips, as they call them, are quite frequent, and all of them can significantly influence your sex drive, your mood, and how sex feels. 

Often, for women, this means increased vaginal dryness, which can make intercourse uncomfortable and sometimes even downright painful. Also, with the decrease of the progesterone hormone, some women experience more heavy bleeding, weight gain, irritability and moodiness, as well as problems with their sleep patterns, and sometimes even insomnia. 

But, similarly to what I said about the 30s, the 40’s, as well as the 50’s can be a very liberating time for both women and men. Your kids have now grown older, your careers are more stable, and you probably have more time to devote to your sex life. 

By now, you probably know your body more than ever, you know what you like and what you don’t like, and because of more time left for the sack, you may even start to experiment more with whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do – explore a fetish, dabble into kink, get into BDSM, experiment more with sex positions, start to appreciate foreplay more, try sexual roleplay

Also, no more birth control worries for women! 

And, what’s super important for women, especially women in their 50s, is that they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant anymore! No more worries whether they’ve taken the pill, or that you’ve pulled out just in time, or whether you want to use a condom or not (although if you exchange sex partners, you definitely should, even after the ripe age for procreation). 

Basically, as long as you get to have the chance to explore your body and always seek new easy to achieve pleasure and enjoy sex – well, that’s all that matters, regardless of what age you are and how your sex drive has changed. Everything is manageable and biological changes don’t define us.  

Final Thoughts on Couples and Sexual Frequency

So, what’s the final verdict here? What can we conclude from all this data, research, countless words and surveys on committed people and their sex lives? 

Well, it tends to be very personal is all I can say, really. We all have different sex drives, different libidos, and all of that shifts and changes throughout our lives. Most of us don’t have the same sex drive we had in our 20’s as we do in our 40’s. 

And that’s okay. Life happens. A lot of the time there isn’t a particular person to blame if our libido crashes. Besides, it’s certainly possible to get it back up again. 

For quite some time now, I’ve been writing articles on sex and relationships, and I have quite a few on desire in long-term relationships, spicing up your sex life, introducing sexual novelty in your life, and the like. 

So, in accordance with that, I want to give you a couple of links to my articles that I think are closely connected to this topic that I suggest you check out. It might just boost your sex life, who knows! And if they don’t work, well you just keep trying, because what else is there? 

Other articles on my blog that deal with sex and desire in committed relationships 

Okay, so these are the articles I advise you to check out if you think you don’t have enough sex in your marriage/relationship: 

Yeah, and this is only a part of it, but I don’t wanna bombard you with all the content I have on this topic. If you’re interested, you can find a lot more articles on my blog. 

That being said, here I want to conclude with this article. I also want to wish you a great time in bed and I want you to have just the perfect amount of sex that you desire. 

Cheers to that! 

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