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How Often Do Couples Have Sex?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/08/2021

Updated 05/03/2024

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. While some show that sex occurs about weekly on average, a couple’s age, libidos, and other factors can change that number drastically.

Below, we’ve dug into the most recent scientific research to find out how often couples usually have sex and the related trends researchers have found. We’ve also shared several tips and techniques you can use if your relationship is going through a sexual dry spell.

Have you ever wondered how you and your partner stack up in terms of sexual frequency? Well, the most straightforward answer is that couples have sex 53 times per year on average, or just over one time per week.

This number comes primarily from a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2017.

However, like with many statistics, numerous additional factors 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 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.

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

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.

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

For decades, though, this belief was untrue, and married people had 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, has even reversed.

As of 2014, married people 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 has become a disadvantage, but some believe it may be related to the increasing age at which most people get married.

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.

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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?

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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 and have sex

  • Treating sex-related issues like erectile dysfunction

  • Focusing on the health benefits of sex

  • Checking your physical health and testosterone levels

Read on to learn more about each of these techniques, 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 with your sex life, your first step should always be to talk 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, which makes it easier to 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 can make sex more exciting.

See a Sex Therapist

In some cases, just talking to your partner isn’t enough to solve an underlying issue causing you to have less sex. If that’s true for you, 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, it might help you and your partner to make changes to your lifestyle that prioritize time for sex and minimize stress, anxiety and distractions.

Life gets busy sometimes, but if you’re constantly dealing with a busy schedule — and your partner is too — finding time for sex can get 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. A date night is a great way to make sexual intimacy part of your schedule again. 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. Sex toys are the only devices you should be playing with at this time.

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

FYI: Some things can’t be avoided. The question “How often do married couples with kids have sex?” has a very different answer from the answer for childfree couples since kids often significantly reduce time and space for intimacy. If your intimacy is struggling because of unavoidable responsibilities, take the celibate time to express affection in other ways — your sex life will come back eventually.

Share the 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. And if you share this information with your partner, it may help the two of you refocus your energies.

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 benefits your cardiovascular health.

  • Reduced stress. Sex is relaxing and fun — which 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. Cuddling helps too, FYI.

  • Stronger intimacy and emotional connection. Having frequent 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.

If You Have Erectile Dysfunction, Treat It

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

Contrary to what many people think, ED can develop at any age, including in your 20s, 30s and 40s.

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 having excess weight or obesity

  • 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 and get medication if necessary.

Check Your Physical Health

If you’re having sex less often 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 check your testosterone levels, if appropriate, and diagnose any relevant health issues.

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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. You can solve most sex-related issues 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 Viagra® (sildenafil) or Cialis® (tadalafil) to boost your confidence and improve your erections.

We offer a range of ED medications online, following a consultation with a licensed 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/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown, MD

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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