How Often Do Couples Have Sex?

Martha Kempner - Writer And Sexual Health Expert

5 min read - July 12, 2023

It's natural to want to know how our sex lives stack up against our neighbors, friends, and favorite celebrities. Still, the truth is that the amount of sex we are all having varies widely based on whether we have a partner (or two), how long we've been in a relationship, how old we are, what else is going on in our lives, and even what else is going on in the world.

Sex is an integral part of an intimate, romantic relationship—it provides closeness and connection to our partners and has numerous physical and psychological benefits. Quality is always more important than quantity, but even a short dry spell can make us worry. Read on to see how much sex couples have according to the research, why it's probably not a good idea to compare, and what to do if you think you're not getting enough.

How often do couples make love?

About once a week. Every couple is different, and research can only give us a snapshot of people's lives (and is only as good as participants' honesty), but most couples seem to be having sex in that once-a-week range.

Here's how often people are having sex in the UK:

  • People in their 20s in the UK have sex about 112 times a year or twice a week.
  • People in their 30s in the UK have sex about 86 times a year, or 1.6 times a week.
  • People in their 40s in the UK have sex about 69 times a year, or 1.3 times a week.
How much sex is normal?

Here's how often people are having sex in the US:

  • 47% of men and 54% of women ages 18–44 in the US say they have sex once a week or more.
  • 28% of men and 26% of women ages 18–44 in the US say they have sex 1–3 times a month.
  • 9% of men and 8% of women ages 18–44 in the US say they have sex once or twice a year.
  • In the US, 17% of men and 13% of women ages 18–44 say they don't have sex.

Other statistics show that the frequency of sex goes down as we age; that married or cohabitating couples tend to have sex more often than people who are single, divorced, or widowed; and that people who work full-time have less sex.

We also know that this is all subject to change. Statistics comparing US couples in 2018 with teams in 2012 found that the amount of sex people are having has been dropping over the years.

The pandemic changed things temporarily; young people stuck in quarantine without a partner had less sex, while married couples had more in some places.

So take these statistics with a grain of salt. Just because this is what research has found in the past doesn't mean new research will find the same thing, and it certainly doesn't mean that this is the amount of sex you should be having.

How often should couples have sex?

While once a week seems to be average, the math means that some couples are having a lot more sex, and some are having less. It doesn't matter how often you have sex if both partners are satisfied with your sex life.

If you're asking this question, however, there's a good chance that the amount of sex you have has become an issue for you or your partner.

Many factors will affect the frequency of sex, including where you are in your relationship, your job, your other obligations, and your overall health.

Stage of relationship. Couples often have the most sex initially when everything is new, and you're still learning about each other. It can be hard to sustain the frequency of this "honeymoon phase," You shouldn't worry if things slow down, but if you're unhappy with your sexual life for any reason, you should tell your partner.

Age. Younger people have more sex. This is probably due to a combination of physical and lifestyle factors. Young people often have more stamina, are in better physical shape, and may have fewer responsibilities. Our hormone levels also change as we age, which can make our sexual drive go down as well.

Responsibilities. The day-to-day duties of life—whether that's a stressful job, small children who need attention (and may interrupt you), or aging parents who need help—can get in the way of having an active sex life. Even if you can find the time to be alone with your partner, you may be so tired when you crawl into bed that the only thing either of you wants to do is turn on Netflix and turn off your brains.

Health. As we age, many of us experience health issues that can knock our sexual lives off course. If you're not feeling well, it's hard to muster up the energy for sex.

In addition, medication that we take for other issues—like anxiety and depression—can get in the way of sexual functioning. If you suspect your sexual life has suffered because of your health, talk to your healthcare provider.

Relationship issues. Sex can help us feel emotionally bonded to our partners. Emotional bonds can make us want to have sex with our partner. Can you see where this is going?

Couples can get into a vicious cycle of feeling disconnected because of other issues going on in their lives or relationships and then not having sex because they feel confused, which makes them think, you guessed it, even more disconnected. Avoid this cycle by talking to your partner about all relationship issues.

How much sex is normal?

How can I have more sex?

Couples often have mismatched libidos, which means one person wants sex more than the other. This doesn't have to be a relationship destroyer, but if you don't talk about it, it can lead to a lot of pent-up resentment.

If one or both of you are unhappy with the amount of sex that you're having, it's time for some honest communication.

Here are some tips for having more sex:

Work on relationship issues. If there are things going on outside of the bedroom that are making you feel angry toward or disconnected from your partner, start with talking about those. Consider seeking the help of a therapist if these issues have been ongoing in your relationship.  

Make time for each other and for sex. Sometimes life—and all of the responsibilities and chores that come with it—gets in the way of sex. Try to make sex a priority. Set up a date night. Turn off the TV a few nights a week. Make sure to go to bed at the same time and chat for a few minutes before falling asleep. Even make an appointment with each other for sex to ensure sex doesn’t fall off of the “to do” list.

Seek care for general health issues. Overall health—both physical and mental—can impact our libidos and our sex lives. If one partner is frequently not in the mood, it is a good idea to get checked out by a health care provider to see if there’s an underlying health issue that can be treated.

Seek care for sexual health issues. Premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, and anorgasmia (an inability to orgasm) can all get in the way of having a good sexual experience. When the sex isn’t good, it’s hard to get motivated to have it very often. Talk to a health care provider, see a therapist, or look for other solutions to these issues. If climaxing too soon has become a problem or made you put off sex, try the in2 patch. This wearable patch is clinically proven to help men prolong sexual intercourse by gently contracting the pelvic muscles. It gives you more control over ejaculation without taking the spontaneity or sensations out of sex.   

No need to count

How often other people have sex is far less important than whether you are enjoying your sex life as it is. If you are, stop counting and know that you’re doing what’s right for you regardless of whether it’s above or below average. If you’re not happy about it, work together with your partner to figure out a frequency that feels good to both of you.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor shall be considered, used, or relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your physician about any health-related condition, as well as risks and benefits of any treatment.