How often a couple has sex will vary. Their sex life will be unique to them and their own set of circumstances at the time. Different factors can affect a person’s libido and how often a couple has sex.
If people are not satisfied with their sex life, there are some steps they can take.
This article examines how often couples have sex and breaks down the statistics and affecting factors.
According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, there is no “normal” frequency of sex, providing everyone in the relationship is happy.
How often a couple should have sex depends on what the people in the relationship decide works best for them. This can range from no sexual activity at all to a few times a day, week, or year.
|Gay, lesbian, or bisexual||32.8–53.7%||44.7–59.2%|
The following table outlines the frequency of sexual activity for married couples in 2016–2018:
|Frequency of sexual activity||Men||Women|
|not at all||1.7%||1.3%|
|once or twice a year||5.2%||5.5%|
|1–3 times a month||35.4%||32.4%|
|weekly or more||57.7%||60.9%|
The same research noted the frequency of sexual activity for those who had one or two partners in the last year in 2012:
|Frequency of sexual activity||1 partner||2 partners|
|not at all||6||0|
|once or twice a year||30||13|
|once a month||48||8|
|2–3 times a month||98||11|
|2–3 times per week||177||18|
|4 or more times per week||58||18|
The authors of a
There will be times when couples have more or less sex than is typical for them. Factors that can affect how often a couple has sex include:
- A person’s overall health: Medical conditions, medications, and other treatments can affect a person’s sex drive. For example, people may experience hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Males with low testosterone may become less interested in sex. Antidepressants can also decrease a person’s libido.
- Age: People may be more likely to have less sex as they age. This can have an association with a person’s health and hormonal changes.
- Relationship changes: As people are in a relationship for longer, it may become more routine. It is important for couples to maintain open communication to discuss their sexual needs.
- Life events: Work, familial responsibilities, and day-to-day responsibilities may result in people being tired and preoccupied. Couples may find it beneficial to schedule date nights and nurture their relationship.
World events can also affect how often couples have sex. For example, during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, overall sexual frequency
Conversely, in the United Kingdom, sexual activity increased in those who were in serious relationships compared to those who were casually dating during social lockdown.
Having sex can benefit a person’s health.
- be more physically fit
- be happier
- have better cognitive function
- have an increased life expectancy
- have a better immune function
- have a lower heart rate and blood pressure
- experience less stress
However, while sexual activity may enhance health, these findings may be true because people who have sex more often tend to be healthier from the outset.
Having sex can also promote relationship satisfaction in couples.
A 2015 study reported that sexual frequency is not as important to well-being as previously thought. It indicated that for those in relationships, the frequency of sexual activity does not have a significant association with well-being.
However, sexual experiences are an
Learn more about sexual frustration and how to manage it here.
A couple that finds making time for sex challenging may want to plan when they have sex.
Scheduling sex has some benefits, including:
- being able to prepare physically and mentally for sex
- looking forward to the experience
- prioritizing the relationship
People may find that their sex drive fluctuates throughout their lives. At times, this may lead to one partner having a higher sex drive than the other.
If a couple finds they have mismatched libidos, it is possible to find solutions.
- Communicate: Couples may benefit from talking about sex and their needs.
- Compromise: According to
2020 research, masturbating alone or with their partner may be an option for those who have a higher sex drive than their partner. If people do not want to engage in penetrative sexual activity, they can try oral sex or using sex toys.
- Engage in other forms of intimacy: People can engage in other forms of intimacy, such as hugging, kissing, and washing together.
Learn more about mismatched sex drives and how to manage them here.
If a couple feels dissatisfied with their sex life, they may want to consider a sex therapist or a couples therapist.
Couples therapists specialize in working with couples on relationship issues. To search for a couples therapist, a person can visit the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists website. They can use the search feature to locate a nearby therapist.
Learn more about the best online couples counseling here.
A sex therapist has particular training to help people with their sexual issues. To find a sex therapist, a person can try the referral directory on the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists website.
What happens during sex therapy?
Sex therapy typically involves meeting a sex therapist in an office setting. People can attend these sessions alone or with their partners.
Sex therapists will assign homework tasks, such as:
- Experimentation: This can include role play, using sex toys, or trying various positions.
- Sensate focus: This can help to build trust. Couples will begin with touching that is not sexual, then progress to touching the genitals, and ending with penetration.
- Education: The therapists may provide learning resources, such as web content or books.
- Communication: The therapist may ask people to practice communication about their sexual needs.
Learn more about sex therapy here.
Costs of couples therapy or sex therapy can vary widely, and insurance may not cover it. However, some diagnostic sexual disorders such as erectile dysfunction and female sexual interest/arousal disorder may qualify for sex therapy under a person’s insurance.
A person looking for more cost-effective options may want to try online therapy. A person can also enquire with different therapists about sliding scale fees.
The following are some common questions about how often couples have sex.
Is it normal or healthy for couples to have sex every day?
There is no set amount of sex a couple should be having.
While research indicates that having sex once a week is associated with greater relationship satisfaction, there is no research that indicates that having sex more often increases relationship satisfaction.
A couple will find that the frequency of sex may vary and can occur every day or less frequently at other times.
Does having less sex than usual mean people are not happy in their relationship?
Having sex less often may indicate a person is not happy in their relationship, but the decrease in sexual frequency may stem from other issues such as:
- family life
- hormonal changes
There is no correct number of times a couple should have sex. People may find that they engage in more or less sexual activity depending on factors such as age, health, life events, and relationship changes.
It is important for couples to communicate their sexual needs with their partner.
If a couple feels that they are experiencing challenges with their sex life, they may benefit from consulting a couples counselor or sex therapist.