According to a 2017 study in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, the average couple has sex about once a week, or some 54 times a year according to one study. As expected, age plays a role with 20 year-olds having sex around 80 times per year with 60 year-olds having sex about 20 times per year. Another study from the Kinsey Research Institute in Indiana shows a similar trend in age, but with increased frequency across the board: approximately 112 times per year for those under thirty and about 52 times per year for those over 50. Either way, it looks like younger people tend to have more sex.
Overall, the frequency of intercourse sharply declined between 2001 and 2012 after increasing between 1991 and 2001. In fact, one British study shows that about half of people in serious relationships haven’t had sex in a year. The biggest decline in sexual frequency seems to have occurred in married couples. In the 90s, married couples had intercourse more frequently than never married individuals, but now never-married individuals have sex more often. Overall, the frequency change of intercourse is much less pronounced for singles. Some factors that may be responsible for this decline are financial stress, increased spread of work into the home, difficulty for younger individuals moving relationships from virtual to real life, social media distractions and increased access to/quality of online pornography with reduced need to find real life partners. In fact, the development of the smartphone coincides rather closely with the decline in sexual frequency.
So, how often should you have sex? While there’s no right or wrong answer for the best frequency of sex in relationships, a study in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that couples are happiest that have sex at least once per week. Although there wasn’t an increase in relationship satisfaction with increased sexual frequency beyond once weekly, there was dissatisfaction for those having sex less frequently than once a week. There are also some health benefits from sex that should be considered as well: in addition to bolstering the immune system, sex can lower blood pressure and heart attack risk. Also, sex can improve sleep, reduce chronic pain and reduce stress. There are also gender-specific benefits: for women, sex and orgasm can improve pelvic floor function/decrease bladder leakage, and for men who ejaculate 21 or more times per month, prostate cancer risk is reduced.
The bottom line is that sex should be fun (if done safely and with consent). It can improve relationship quality and even provide some health benefits. While work, kids, finances and phones can reduce desire for sex, it may pay off to try to have intercourse anyway. Increased sexual frequency tends to increase libido, which in turn increases frequency and more desire for frequency. Even scheduled intercourse counts and can lead to more spontaneous adventures. If you’re interested in more sex, be sure to talk to your partner as over half of women and men in committed relationships want more sex. After all, it’s springtime-don’t neglect the “birds and the bees.”