Is there a magic number? You’d be surprised at how often couples actually have sex...
As a clinical sexologist, “how often should couples have sex?” is a common question in my line of work. It’s usually asked by people who wonder if there’s a healthy, normal, or even right frequency. In short, people are eager to know how regularly others are “doing it”. The gold standard for sexual happiness? Once a week. That appears to be the sweet spot – because enough time passes for us to start wanting sex again.
The stats aren’t sexy
I’ve seen American studies over the years that showed having sex more than once a week didn’t make couples feel any happier. Meanwhile, those who had sex less than once a week didn’t feel as fulfilled. Age matters, too. One US survey found that people in their 20s had sex about 80 times a year, while those in their 60s saw the number decline to an average of 20 times a year.
In Singapore, a 2014 poll said 27% did it one to three times a month, 22% ticked the box for one to three times a week, and 16% shared they had sex more than thrice a week. More recently, a 2020 study discovered that married women aren’t having as much sex as they’d like. Those aged 25 to 29 do it 3.7 times a month on average, but the number drops to 2.6 for those aged 30 to 34.
Why aren’t couples having more sex?
In my 12 years of experience as a relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist in Singapore, the stats sound about right. Most couples I’ve worked with – regardless of race, nationality, or religion – share that they have sex (penetrative or otherwise) once a week or every other week. However, it’s usually not because the desire isn’t there.
The most common reason why people aren’t having more sex? Work. That’s where exhaustion, stress and deadlines come in. And in our personal lives, we have other distractions and parental responsibilities. Mental health challenges, physical issues like illness or disability, and medication can also contribute to sexual difficulties.
Yet we all know there are plenty of benefits to a sexually expressive life with your partner. Sex can strengthen your bond and make you feel desired and loved by one another. Sex is also great for your health! It can uplift your mood, lower stress levels, boost your immune system, help fight heart disease, and improve your quality of sleep and life.
Happiness matters more than all the sex in the world
Most people wrongly assume that being a sex-positive counsellor, I’d advocate a “right” or “proper” way to be sexual. My work involves supporting people to live their lives in a way that works for them and meeting them where they’re at without any judgment. There’s nothing wrong with a sexless relationship if both sides are perfectly happy! However, if one person is sexually dissatisfied, the lack of sex should be addressed and that’s where I step in to help.
At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong answer to the question of how often couples should have sex. It really depends on the couple – and the individual. Of course, other factors that can influence sexual frequency include age, health, stress, mood and sexual desires. But, no one should be telling you there’s a right (or wrong) way. It’s really up to the couple to decide – and prioritise sex so that it happens.
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