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How Often Do Couples Have Sex?

Katelyn Hagerty

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Published 06/08/2021

Updated 04/20/2023

If you’re in a committed, long-term relationship, it’s easy to wonder how "normal" you and your partner are compared to your peers — especially when it comes to sex.

Over the years, various studies have tried to answer the age-old question of how often couples have sex:

  • According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2017, the average American adult has sex 53 times each year, or a little more than once per week.

  • The same research suggests that people in their 20s and 30s were more likely to have sex regularly than their older counterparts.

  • There’s no “perfect” figure regarding sex frequency, whether you like to have sex more than once a day or just every now and then.

  • Instead of worrying about what other people do, it’s always best to focus on maintaining a sex life that keeps you and your partner happy. 

Below, we’ve dug into the most recent scientific research to find out how often couples usually have sex and the sex trends associated with them. 

We’ve looked at various factors that can affect your desire for sex, including how your age and general health might affect your sex drive and sexual function. 

Finally, we’ve shared several tips and techniques you can use if your relationship is going through a sexual dry spell. 

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Factors That Affect How Often Couples Have Sex

If you’ve ever wondered how you and your partner stack up in terms of sexual frequency, we’ve got some good news: somewhere in a research lab, scientists have spent their valuable time working out exactly how much sex is “normal.”

As we briefly mentioned earlier, the answer is 53 times per year, or just over one time per week on average.

Like with many statistics, there are numerous additional factors that play a role in how much sex people have. These include:

  • Age. People in their late teens, 20s and 30s have sex the most often, while older adults are usually less sexually active. We’ve dug into the link between age and sexual activity in more detail in the section below.

  • Location. The frequency of sex is pretty consistent across the United States, but there are some location-based differences.
    For example, research shows that people in the West have sex the most (approximately 60 times per year, on average), while people in the East have the least sex (just under 50 times per year).

  • Relationship status. Sex is far more convenient when you and your partner live under the same roof — a fact that has historically given married couples and people who live together an advantage in terms of sexual frequency. Conversely, those who haven't been sexually active — also known as celibacy — whether in a relationship or not, may have more or less sex. Here's what you can expect from sex after celibacy.

  • Work. Working full-time seems to get in the way of sex, with full-time workers averaging 45 sex acts per year. In comparison, non-workers and people employed part-time have sex an average of 62 times per year.

Average Frequency of Sex By Age

It’s normal to slow down a little as you get older, at least when it comes to physical activity. Sex is no exception, with data showing that younger people, on average, have sex more often than older people.

According to the same research mentioned above, people have sex much more in their 20s than by the time they reach retirement age:

  • In their 20s, people have sex an average of more than 80 times a year, or slightly more than once every five days.

  • By the age of 45, people have sex an average of 60 times per year, or just over once a week.

  • By age 65, most people have sex around 20 times per year, or less than one time every two weeks.

How Often Do Married Couples Have Sex?

We’ve all heard that sex slows down once you tie the knot — a belief that can feel correct since many relationships slow down once you get through that initial honeymoon phase. 

For decades, this belief was untrue, with married people having sex more often than their single counterparts. However, since the 2000s, the sexual gap between married and unmarried people has shrunk considerably and, in some instances, reversed. 

As of 2014, married people actually had sex slightly less than their unmarried peers (55 times a year for married people vs. 59 times for unmarried people). 

Experts aren’t sure precisely why this difference exists (or why what used to be an advantage is no longer there), but some believe it may be related to the increasing age at which most people get married.

As we covered above, age and sex are closely linked, with younger people having more sex, at least on average, than older people.

In 1990, the average age for women to get married was twenty-three. As of 2016, the average marriage age for women was twenty-seven.

This difference in average marriage age may be responsible for the decline in sexual frequency among married couples over the last few decades. 

Health Benefits of Sex

Sex is critical not just for your well-being and quality of life, but also for your physical and mental health. Health benefits of having sex include: 

Better Cardiovascular Health

Sex is a form of exercise. While it might not be quite as intense as running or lifting weights, sex can get your muscles moving and your heart beating, meaning it often provides benefits for your cardiovascular health.

Less Stress

Sex is relaxing and fun — something that makes it great for relieving stress. Research shows that sex might help to reduce exposure to stress, modify the body’s stress response and help promote recovery after stressful events.

Intimacy and Emotional Connection

Having sex creates intimacy, which is vital for developing and maintaining a strong emotional connection with your partner. This connection can provide the support that makes certain parts of your life easier to manage.

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How Often Should Couples Have Sex?

From time to time, just about every couple ponders certain questions. How much sex should we be having? Is our sex life normal? Are we having less sex than we should be, and does it mean something is wrong with our relationship?

Regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or single, there’s no magic number when it comes to the number of times you should have sex per week.

Some people like to have sex every day, or sometimes more than once a day. Others prefer sex every other day, once a week or even less frequently than this. 

There’s no “wrong” answer when it comes to sexual frequency. However, there are a few things that you should be aware of when it comes to maintaining a healthy sex life.

First, if you’re not having sex as much as you’d like, it’s important to talk to your partner about your feelings.

Second, it’s also important to let your partner know if you think there’s a mismatch between the amount of sex you want and the amount of sex they want.

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How Couples Can Improve Their Sexual Relationships

Healthy and regular sexual intimacy is an important part of life. Unfortunately, it can easily take a back seat to other things, such as work, study or family.

Over time, lots of couples fall into a routine where having sex just isn’t as much of a priority as it once was.

Part of this is totally natural. It’s normal to go through a honeymoon phase in your relationship, then having sex becomes less frequent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is “wrong” in your relationship — just that other things have also become priorities.

However, if you’re both starting to feel sexually frustrated or if you’re no longer having sex at all, it’s often a sign that it’s time to take action.

Good ways to rekindle the fire include:

  • Communicating with each other about your needs.

  • Talking to a sex therapist or other therapy provider.

  • Making more time to connect with each other and have sex.

  • Treating sex-related issues like erectile dysfunction.

  • Checking your physical health and testosterone levels.

We’ve expanded on each of these techniques below with practical tips that you can use to enjoy a better sex life.

Communicate With Each Other

Communication is essential for almost every aspect of your relationship, including your sexual connection.

If you’re frustrated or disappointed about your sex life, your first step should always be talking to your partner. Tell them how you feel about your sex life — and, most importantly — why you feel that way. 

Sometimes, a quick conversation is all it takes to recognize you’re actually on the same page regarding sex and identify what you can do to make your sex life more enjoyable. 

If you’re looking for simple changes that you can make as a couple, our list of ways to spice up your sex life shares simple techniques that you can use to make sex more exciting. 

See a Sex Therapist

If you think an underlying issue might be causing you to have less sex and communicating with your partner isn’t enough to solve it, try talking about it with a sex therapist

Sex therapy is a form of counseling that’s built around identifying and solving sexual issues. It’s often used to treat intimacy problems, differences in sex drive, worries about sex or other issues that can get in the way of having a healthy sexual relationship.

Many sex therapists specialize in treating problems like sexual performance anxiety, which can affect your physical and emotional ability to have sex.

As part of sex therapy, your therapist might provide “homework”  — activities that you and your partner can work on together to strengthen your connection, feel more relaxed with each other or introduce more of a spark into the bedroom.

If your sex life is suffering because of depression, anxiety or stress, you can also connect with a therapy provider online to process and navigate your emotions. 

Make More Time for Sex

If you’ve recently noticed the frequency of sex dropping in your relationship, making changes to your lifestyle that prioritize time for sex and minimize stress, anxiety and distractions might help you and your partner.

Life gets busy sometimes. If you’re constantly dealing with a busy schedule — and your partner is too — daily life can become so chaotic that finding time for sex gets seriously difficult.

Sometimes, making simple changes to the way you plan your day can make finding time for sex easier. Try:

  • Planning time for one or two romantic nights a week. Consider making some days “off limits” for thinking about work or other responsibilities, giving you and your partner more time to enjoy each other’s company.

  • Switching off the TV, computer or other devices. If you usually spend your evenings relaxing in front of the TV, try switching it off at least one night a week to give yourselves more time for sex.

  • Schedule sex ahead of time. If you’re running really short on time, consider scheduling time just for sex. While scheduling sex might not sound all that romantic, it’s unlikely you’ll care much once you get started. 

If You Have Erectile Dysfunction (ED), Treat It

Erectile dysfunction is a common health condition that may affect your sex life. Research shows that 30 million men in the United States are affected by ED, or just under a third of the entire US adult male population.

Contrary to what many people think, ED can develop at any age, including in your 20s, 30s and forties. 

A variety of factors can cause or contribute to ED, including:

  • Physical health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and certain types of medication.

  • Lifestyle and health-related factors, such as a lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, smoking and being overweight or obese.

  • Psychological and emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, stress or feelings of guilt about sex.

  • Medications, such as blood pressure treatments, antiandrogens, antidepressants, ulcer medications and prescription sedatives.

Since ED can take a serious toll on your sexual well-being, it’s important to seek expert help if you’re one of the millions of affected men. 

We offer a range of ED medications, which are available after an online consultation with a licensed healthcare provider. 

Check Your Physical Health

If you’re having sex less because you just don’t feel the urge, it could be worth looking into your physical health.

Sexual desire is both mental and physical. As you get older, issues that can affect your sex drive tend to become more common.

These include:

  • Low testosterone, which can reduce your level of interest in sex and make maintaining an erection harder.

  • Clogged arteries and/or high blood pressure, which can affect blood flow and contribute to problems like ED, poor sexual stamina and low sexual satisfaction. 

Some physical issues may also affect your partner’s libido. For example, many women feel less interested in sex during perimenopause and menopause.

If you think a physical issue like low testosterone is causing you to feel less interested in having sex, consider meeting with your primary care provider or a urologist. They’ll be able to diagnose any relevant health issues and, if appropriate, check your testosterone levels. 

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How Often Do Couples Have Sex? Final Thoughts

When it comes to sexual frequency, what’s considered normal or “enough sex” varies a lot from one couple to another.

  • On average, most people have sex about once a week. However, there’s nothing wrong with having more (or less) sex if that’s what you and your partner prefer.

  • If you think you aren’t having sex often enough, let your partner know. Most sex-related issues can be solved by talking with your partner, making changes to your lifestyle and setting aside extra time for sex.

  • Other options for improving your sexual connection include seeing a sex therapist and treating common problems like ED.

If a sexual health problem like erectile dysfunction is affecting your sex life, consider trying an FDA-approved ED medication like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®) or tadalafil (the active ingredient in Cialis®) to boost your confidence and improve your erections. 

We offer a range of ED medications online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.

7 Sources

  1. Sherman, et al. (2017, November). Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 46 (8), 2389-2401. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28265779/
  2. Liu, H., Waite, L., Shen, S. & Wang, D. (2016, September). Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk Among Older Men and Women. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 57 (3), 276-296. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5052677/
  3. What happens during sex therapy? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-happens-during-sex-therapy/
  4. Definition & Facts for Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  5. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
  6. Could you have low testosterone? (2021, May 13). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000722.htm
  7. Dennerstein, L., Dudley, E. & Burger, H. (2001, September). Are changes in sexual functioning during midlife due to aging or menopause?. Fertility and Sterility. 76 (3), 456-460. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11532464/
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