How Often Do Couples Have Sex?

How often couples have sex varies significantly. The average, according to some research, is about once a week. Whether or not this is the same for you and your partner depends on several factors, some of which are more concrete than others.

The article examines what the current research says, including the factors that influence the frequency of sex and whether "good" sex and frequent sex are one and the same.

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Benefits of Sex

A healthy sex life can strengthen the bond between you and your partner and help keep the relationship strong. Sex also offers numerous health benefits as well, some of which include:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved energy and mood
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Possible improved bladder control in women
  • Possible reduced prostate cancer risk in men

This is not meant to suggest that having more sex will make you healthier. Nor, does it mean that having less or no sex will make you less healthy. Sex is only one of many factors that can influence health.

What studies do confirm is that having sex can be good for both the mind and body. The "right" amount of sex is ultimately based on whether it improves your overall well-being, both as an individual and a couple.

Frequency of Sex

By and large, people who are single tend to have more sex than people who are partnered (married or unmarried). Studies suggest that couples have sex an average of once weekly.

Age can increase or decrease the frequency, and that is largely based on whether sex hormone levels are high or on the decline.

According to a 2017 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior which evaluated behavioral data of American adults from 1989 to 2014:

  • Adults in their 20s have sex an average of 80 times yearly (roughly once every five days)
  • Adults in their 60s have sex an average of 20 times a year (around once every 18 days)

The greatest declines are seen in people in their 50s. Other factors contribute, including having children and, interestingly, not watching porn. The declines were similar irrespective of gender, race, location, educational levels, and work status.

This doesn't mean that everyone who gets older will have less sex or that all young people will have tons of sex. In fact, according to the study, people born around the 1940s and 50s tended to have more sex during their 20s and 30s than millennials and iGens today.

These generational differences had nothing to do with working hours.

Recap

On average, coupled adults in America have sex once weekly. The frequency of sex tends to decrease with age, with the greatest declines seen in people in their 50s.

Sex and Relationships

Sex can be an important part of a relationship, but having less sex does not mean your relationship is "less good." Even so, it can influence it.

Research published by Harvard University reported that 90% of men and women felt that "a good relationship is important to the quality of life." Of these, half said that although sex gives them pleasure, it is not a necessary part of a good relationship.

A survey published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that around 50% of heterosexual couples were content with the amount of sex they had. These couples generally had a more positive view of their relationships as well.

On the flip side, the majority of dissatisfied men said that they didn't get enough sex, the negative feelings of which bled over into how they felt about their relationship. Only two-thirds of dissatisfied women felt the same.

Attitudes in Men and Women

Part of the reason for the disparity between men and women is that men tend to feel greater distress if they are not content with the amount or quality of sex they get.

A 2013 study from Australia found that, while women are more likely to feel severe distress from lack of sexual satisfaction, men are more likely to tie that frustration to their relationship and, because of this, be less able to resolve their feelings.

At the same time, women tend to connect sexual satisfaction with intimacy and the duration of their relationship, while men are more likely to relate it to sexual performance (including how consistently he can bring his partner to climax).

The problem with this, of course, is that sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction are closely linked. And unless both partners are able to satisfy each other, the frequency of sex can decrease even in younger couples.

Communication plays a large role in why some sexual relationships are more satisfying than others. A 2017 review in PLoS One reported that couples in whom both partners are able to initiate sex were generally more content with their sex life and relationship. By contrast, those who adhere to roles in which "the man initiates sex" were almost always less satisfied.

Recap

Sexual satisfaction is linked to sexual frequency. Sexual satisfaction is generally greater when both partners communicate and feel comfortable initiating sex. Poor sexual communication can decrease sexual satisfaction and affect how a partner feels about their relationship.

Summary

Couples in the United States have sex an average of once weekly. The frequency of sex is greater in younger couples and tends to decline steeply after the age of 50. Single people and people without children tend to have more sex than people who are partnered or have children.

The frequency of sex doesn't necessarily reflect how people feel about their relationships. What can affect it is sexual dissatisfaction.

Sexual dissatisfaction in men is often linked to the quantity and quality of sex. Women tend to associate sexual satisfaction with intimacy and the duration of a relationship.

Overcoming communication problems can improve sexual satisfaction and, in turn, sexual frequency.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often do most couples have sex?

    On average, most couples have sex once a week. The frequency can vary by age. One study found that people in their 20s have sex about 80 times a year, while those in their 60s have sex an average of 20 times a year.

  • Is it healthy to have sex every day?

    As long as you and your partner both desire sex and feel up for it, it is perfectly healthy to have sex every day. It is only when hypersexual behaviors make you feel guilty or anxious that you should consider seeing a therapist.

  • What is considered a normal sex life?

    There is a wide variation of what is considered "normal" when it comes to sex. According to the Kinsey Institute, humans have a diverse spectrum of sexual preferences and behaviors. All that really matters is that all parties are consenting adults and in agreement about their boundaries.

 

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jay Cardiello
Jay Cardiello is a fitness author and leading strength and conditioning specialist certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.