How often a couple has sex will vary. Their sex life will be unique to them. 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.

A couple laughing after engaging in sex.Share on Pinterest
Vladimir Tsarkov/Getty Images

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.

Based on 2020 research, the following percentage of adults aged 18–44 with a steady partner engaged in weekly sexual activity:

Gay, lesbian, or bisexual32.8–53.7%44.7–59.2%

The following table outlines the frequency of sexual activity for married couples in 2016–2018:

Frequency of sexual activityMenWomen
not at all1.7%1.3%
once or twice a year5.2%5.5%
1–3 times a month35.4%32.4%
weekly or more57.7%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 activity1 partner2 partners
not at all60
once or twice a year3013
once a month488
2–3 times a month9811
2–3 times per week17718
4 or more times per week5818

The authors of a 2019 article found that the median number of times people who were cohabiting or married had sex was three times per month. Married or cohabitating couples are more likely to have sex more often than people who are single, divorced, or widowed.

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 declined among young people.

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.

Research from 2022 found that the pandemic led to a more active sex life for married people, which appears to have persisted after the lockdown ended.

Having sex can benefit a person’s health.

Research shows participating in regular sexual activity benefits health, well-being, and quality of life. Additionally, people who have an active sex life may:

  • 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. Research shows that sex and affection have a positive association. Sex and the increased affection that accompanies it affects relationship satisfaction.

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 essential part of the quality of life for some people. Not being able to meet their sexual desires can result in sexual frustration. It may also lead to higher levels of depression.

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.

People should:

  • 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:

  • stress
  • family life
  • hormonal changes
  • illness

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.