This question is often asked, but it’s difficult to answer with numbers. The “normal” frequency of sex is the frequency that two partners agree works best for them. For some, that might mean having sex several times a day/week/month/year. As long as both partners are satisfied, there is no right or wrong answer.
Answers to the question might also vary depending on one’s definition of sex.
The word “sex” often means different things to different people. For example, in a 2010 study, researchers asked 486 men and women in the United States (aged 18 to 96) whether they would consider certain activities as “having sex.”
About 95% of the respondents said yes to penile-vaginal intercourse. However, some felt that in order for penile-vaginal intercourse to be classified as sex, one of the partners had to reach orgasm. Other definitions varied:
- About 45% of respondents said yes to touching, fondling, or manually stimulating a partner’s genitals.
- Just over 70% said that giving or receiving oral sex was considered “having sex.”
- About 81% said anal intercourse was “having sex."
No matter how people define sex, several factors can affect its frequency.
People might have sex less often if they have an illness or chronic pain. Some health conditions, medications, and treatments can lower sex drive. For example:
- If a man has low testosterone, he might not feel interested in having sex as much as he used to.
- Conditions like arthritis may make sex uncomfortable.
- Men with Peyronie’s disease may be unable to have intercourse because the curve of their penis makes it too difficult.
- Medications like antidepressants can have sexual side effects.
- Women may experience vaginal dryness after menopause, which may make sex uncomfortable.
If health issues are affecting your ability to have sex, talk to a healthcare provider.
As people get older, they may have sex less often. The decrease may be linked to overall health or a lack of partners. Hormonal changes may play a role, too. Men’s testosterone levels gradually decline as they age. And women’s bodies produce less estrogen after menopause. Both testosterone and estrogen are important hormones for sexual function.
What is genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM)?
Couples who are in the early “honeymoon” stage of their relationship may have sex more frequently than those who have been together for a long time. Sometimes relationships are more exciting at the beginning, but they become routine after several months or years.
Conflict in the relationship may also affect sexual frequency. Good communication between partners is important for a healthy sexual relationship. Counseling and sex therapy often helps.
What are sex therapists? What do they do? How does one choose a sex therapist?
What happens during sex therapy?
Life gets busy. If a couple is preoccupied with work or family responsibilities, they might have difficulty making time for intimacy. Or they might be too tired for sex after taking care of day-to-day responsibilities. Stress and anxiety can affect sexuality as well.
Couples in this situation are encouraged to nurture their relationships. Having date nights and reserving time for intimacy can help foster emotional bonds. This may involve asking family members and friends for help with childcare, errands, and other tasks.
Mismatched Sex Drives?
Sometimes, partners disagree on sexual frequency. For example, one might want to have sex several nights a week, while the other is satisfied with once a month. In these cases, compromise is essential. Some couples discuss other activities that would be sexually satisfying or decide to try an open, non-monogamous relationship.
- Sexual Health via Kinsey Institute - “Misclassification bias: diversity in conceptualisations about having ‘had sex’”
Sanders, Stephanie A., et al.