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How Often Do Couples Have Sex?

Kristin Hall, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 6/9/2021

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 research findings vary, most studies show that the average American adult has sex 50 to 70 times per year, which is about once to twice a week.

However, a variety of factors, such as age and marital status, likely play a role in what “normal” sex frequency is for the average person. 

Below, we’ve dug into the most recent scientific research to find out how often couples usually have sex. 

We’ve looked at a variety of factors, including how your age may affect your sex life and interest in sex in general.

Finally, we’ve shared several tips and techniques that you can use if your relationship is going through a sexual dry spell.

How Often Couples Have Sex: The Basics

  • According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which uses data from the General Social Survey, the average American adult has sex 54 times each year, or a little more than once per week.

  • It’s worth noting that this figure is for individual adults, not just couples. Research shows that married adults have sex slightly more often, at around 56 times per year.

  • Interestingly, research seems to suggest that couples are having less sex now than they did 20 to 30 years ago, perhaps due to busier, more stressful lifestyles.

  • Other research shows that age plays a major role in how frequently you have sex, with younger people more likely to report having sex on a regular basis than older couples.

  • Although numbers like this are interesting, there’s no “perfect” figure when it comes to sex frequency. Instead of worrying about what other people do, focus on maintaining a sex life that keeps you and your partner happy. 

How Often Does the Average Couple Have Sex?

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? 

While TV shows, movies and other popular media may make it seem like the average couple is in bed enjoying “quality time” every night, most data suggests that American adults usually don’t have sex on a daily basis. 

According to data from the General Social Survey, American adults have sex 54 times per year on average, which is just over once per week.

It’s worth noting that this data includes both single people, married couples and couples that are unmarried. 

As you may expect, the number of times people have sex on an annual basis varies hugely based on their relationship status.

According to the data, people with no steady partner had sex the least, with the average single person having sex approximately 33 times per year.

In comparison, unmarried people who live with their sexual partner had sex the most frequently, clocking in an average of 86 times per year. 

People who lived separately from their partner had slightly less sex, with an average of just under 75 times per year.

Interestingly, married people had slightly less sex than unmarried people, with an average of 50 sex acts per year for people who are married and living togethe

While this might suggest that marriage kills your sex life, we think this difference is likely related to age -- a topic we’ve covered in more detail in the section below. 

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Age and Frequency of Sex

One factor that’s closely linked to frequency of sex is age. 

Data shows that younger people tend to have sex more often than older people, with a large different in frequency of sex between the youngest and oldest demographics.

People aged from 18 to 39 tend to have the most sex, with General Social Survey data showing that 18 to 29 year olds have sex just over 78 times per year on average. 

30 to 39 year olds are fairly similar, racking up just under 78 sex acts per year on average.

In comparison, people in older age groups reported having sex less often. The average person aged 50 to 59 reported having sex 38 times per year, while people in their 60s reported having sex an average of 25 times per year.

In addition to age, other factors that appear to influence how frequently people have sex include their location and lifestyle.

While frequency of sex was relatively consistent across the country, people in the East had sex the least (just under 50 times per year, on average), while people in the West typically had sex more often (approximately 60 times per year, on average).

Full-time workers typically had less sex than non-workers or people who work part time, with an average of 45 sex acts per year for full-time workers and 62 per year for non-workers or people employed on a part-time basis.

According to the Data, People Are Having Sex Less

Interestingly, the survey data suggests that couples are generally having less now than they did several decades ago. 

In the 1989-1994 General Social Survey, adults reported having sex an average of 60 times per year -- approximately 11 percent more often than the 54 times per year reported by participants in the more recent survey.

Most of the drop off in sexual frequency has occurred in people aged 18 to 29, 30 to 39 and 50 to 59. 

The decrease in sexual frequency is especially big for people in their 50s, who reported having sex 21 percent less than the same group in the 1989-1994 survey.

How to Improve Your Sexual Relationship

A healthy sex life is an important part of life. Unfortunately, it can easily take a back seat to other things, such as work, study or family. 

Over time, lots of couples fall into a routine where sex just isn’t as big of a priority as it used to be.

If you and your partner aren’t having sex as much as you once did, making a few small changes to your habits and daily lifestyle may help to turn things around. 

To rekindle the fire, try using the following techniques. 

Identify Underlying Relationship Issues

It’s normal to go through a dry spell every now and then, even in a loving relationship. 

However, a long-term lack of sexual contact with your partner may potentially signal a deeper relationship issue, such as relationship friction or a lack of sexual satisfaction. 

If you think an underlying issue might be causing your sex drought, try talking about it with your partner. 

Be open, honest and sensitive -- together, you might identify the issue that’s preventing you from being close and work out how to solve it.

Make Time for Sex

Many couples want to have sex more often, but can’t due to busy, demanding professional lives and other commitments. 

Research shows that stress is negatively correlated with sexual activity within couples, meaning couples who are stressed are less likely to have sex on a regular basis.

If you’ve recently noticed the frequency of sex dropping in your relationship, making changes to your lifestyle that prioritize time for sex and minimize stress, anxiety and distractions might help you and your partner to have sex more often.

This could be as simple as planning at least one or two romantic nights with each other a week or taking steps to change your work environment to minimize stress.

If You Have Erectile Dysfunction (ED), Treat It

Erectile dysfunction is a common issue that may affect your sex life. Research has found that 30 million men in the United States are affected by ED, or just under a third of the entire adult male population.

A variety of factors can cause ED, including physical health issues such as high blood pressure, certain types of medication, lifestyle factors such as a lack of physical activity and psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.

Since ED can take a serious toll on your sex life, it’s important to seek expert help if you’re one of the millions of men affected. 

We offer a range of ED medications online, which are available after a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider. 

If You Watch Porn, Try to Stop (or Watch With Your Partner)

While research is mixed on the link between masturbation, porn and erectile dysfunction, some research has found that men who view porn compulsively display a reduced level of interest in real-life sex.

While it’s fine to watch porn occasionally, if you’re in a relationship, it’s important not to let porn get in the way of your sexual relationship with your partner.

If you watch porn and find that you’re less interested in sex than normal, try to either give it up for a few weeks or watch with your partner. 

Many guys find that taking a break from porn helps them to “reboot” and enjoy a healthier, more balanced sex life. 

Check Your Physical Health

Sexual desire is both mental and physical. As you get older, issues like low testosterone, which can affect your sex drive, become more common. 

If you’re having sex less because you just don’t feel the urge, it could be worth looking into your physical health. 

Consider booking an appointment with your primary care provider or a urologist to check your testosterone levels.

If your testosterone levels are low or simply on the low side of normal, consider making changes to your habits to increase your testosterone and strengthen your sex drive. 

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Sexual Frequency

When it comes to sexual frequency, what’s considered normal can vary hugely from one couple to another. 

However, research shows that, on average, American adults have sex around 50 to 70 times per year.

From work to study, family life and more, a variety of factors can interfere with sex and affect the amount of time that you and your partner have to yourselves.

If you’d like to have sex more frequently, consider talking to your partner and implementing one or several of the techniques listed above. 

Remember that everyone is different, and that average numbers aren’t targets that you need to aspire to (or, if you have sex more often, limits that you need to abide by). 

Focus on having sex the way you and your partner enjoy, even if it’s more or less often than the average. 

Finally, if a sexual health issue like erectile dysfunction is affecting your sex life, consider using an FDA-approved ED medication like sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®) to boost your confidence and improve your erections. 

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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.

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