Scientifically, how many times a week “should” couples be having sex?

How often should a couple be having sex?

Let’s start here: “The Three Things You Can’t Talk About” in most first-world, middle-class-ish existences are sex (which creates you), money (which drives a lot of people), and failure (which happens to everyone almost hourly, but no one seems to ever want to really talk about).

This post is about No. 1: sex.

If you Google virtually any variation of “how many times a week should couples have sex” (change the wording around if you want), there’s about 20.3 million results each time — and all are articles trying to scientifically prove that some number is better/worse than some other number.

Here’s the actual truth: it’s completely dependent on situation, which involves:

  • Age
  • Number of kids
  • Job responsibilities
  • General libido of both people
  • Health/wellness
  • Importance of sex to the people involved
  • General well-being of the relationship

In the interest of talking about sex and failure at the same time (but not money, baby!), I’ve been married two years or so … I’ve hit a few 0x weeks (haven’t we all?) and I’ve probably hit a few double-digitX weeks. Life. It happens.

That said, is there a number we should be getting close to?

Let’s start with Jezebel here:

That mystery solved, why would therapists push for twice a week? The reason: Reverse engineering, AKA, wishful thinking. In other words, happy couples report that they have sex about two to three times per week, so the idea is that by doing it twice a week, perhaps you too can glean the happiness of the happiest people. But doing what happy people do doesn’t mean it will make you happy, because there’s always the possibility that it’s the happiness that leads to the twice-weekly boning, and not the boning that leads to the happiness, dig?

I like the phrase “twice-weekly boning.” That’s a good trivia team name. Also, everything in life is essentially cart/horse when you really come to it. Do you have a high salary because you’re an amazing business person, or are you an amazing business person because you have a high salary? Line up 100 people and you ain’t getting 100 of the same answers.

Here’s tabloid rag The New York Post, which I grew up reading every night because I’m a very off-task, salacious person:

According to couples psychotherapist and certified sex therapist Sari Cooper, studies have found that “happy couples have sex three to four times per week.” But she cautions couples to be wary of the results, which may only survey snippets of respondents’ time together. “These polls may not take in the total picture of a couple’s life — think early marriage, pregnancy, having young children, or having a job that requires travel — and may cause perfectly happy couples to feel inferior or worried that they’re not doing enough.”

As you can see, I clearly read this paper every day as a small child, because I think the same as they do on “possible defers” to the idea of “twice-weekly boning.” Man, that’s such a good phrase. OK, so this certified sex therapist is saying 3-4, and the other article is saying 2-3. That puts us in a 2-4 range, which would be about 8-16/month. Seems logical, right?

Daily Mail throws a little more context behind it:

Now, a leading sexual health doctor has claimed the average couple has sex two to three times a week.

But, many men are not able to hold out long enough to satisfy their partners, Dr Harry Fisch claims.

Dr Harry Fisch says the average couple has sex two to three times a week but that it often does not last long enough to satisfy the woman

The urologist, from New York Presbyterian Hospital, says about 45 per cent of men orgasm within two minutes of starting penetrative sex, which is much too quick for the average woman.

He adds that most women need five to seven minutes to reach orgasm, Nerve.com reports.

The doctor says the average man has 11 erections a day and that some young men see having sex many times a day as normal.

So this guy is saying 2-3 times (similar to above) but also reporting there’s a huge disconnect between male orgasm time and female orgasm time, which I don’t think would surprise anyone. Everything about “female orgasm” is semi-fraught, as an aside.

If you want to go bigger on sample size here and use actual people instead of sex therapists, here’s a Reddit thread (with 278 comments) where people talk about their amount-of-sex-per-week relative to their age, time married, and kids. Some of the better comments are subsequently summarized on Huffington Post.

Pause for entertainment. Anyone remember ‘dis?

And here’s the good people of Wall Street Journal addressing the potential sexualized elephant in the room:

No wonder they miss sex when it disappears. It’s a way for them to be aggressive and manly but also tender and vulnerable. “For some men, sex may be their primary way of communicating and expressing intimacy,” says Justin Lehmiller, a Harvard University social psychologist who studies sexuality. Taking away sex “takes away their primary emotional outlet.”

I’m a dude and would somewhat agree. Personally think I’m a pretty emotional person without sex so maybe it doesn’t fully apply to me, but most guys I know? I would say this is true for about 6-7 in 10. Again, every situation is different.

I texted 10 friends about this in an effort to write this post: 5 guys, 5 girls. I got one girl who said “7-9 times a week.” That felt like an outlier, although I know her and vaguely know her husband and I could see it work. Most everyone else said “1-3,” with a few “2-4.” Again, small sample size and obviously my friends are specific kinds of people probably somewhat similar to me, but regardless, I felt like it was moderately interesting.

This feels like a good place to end, contextually:

Pretend right now that you didn’t have any conception of how often couples “should” or “shouldn’t” be having sex. Imagine that we live in a world where people have as much sex as they feel like having, and no one worries about it. If that was the case, would you be writing this email to me? Would you be feeling concerned about your relationship? In other words, are you missing having as much sex with your boyfriend, or is your question being driven by a fear that you guys aren’t “normal”?

Bottom line: it’s what works for that couple. But, if you’re really into quantifying? Let’s say 2-3 as a good start. 


Ted Bauer


  1. How about non hetero situations (where there is most likely no risk of pregnancy, divine intervention notwithstanding)?

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