How Often Do Couples Have Sex? (We Know You're Curious)

Answering the age-old question: "Is everyone having fun without me?"
How Often Do Couples Have Sex
Photo: Getty Images | YakobchukOlena
Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
by
Jamie Cuccinelli
Jamie Cuccinelli the knot writer and wedding expert
Jamie Cuccinelli
Senior Editor, Sex & Relationships
  • Jamie is a Senior Editor for The Knot where she oversees all sex and relationship editorial content.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, she worked with an array of digital publications that include Brides, The Zoe Report, Bustle and MyDomaine.
  • Jamie graduated with a degree in English and Media, Culture & Communications from New York University.
Updated Sep 29, 2023
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You've probably heard it a million times and counting: "Comparison is the thief of joy." But that's not likely going to stop you from wondering how often do couples have sex (and how you and your partner measure up).

It's natural to be curious about how often do people have sex. But worrying if you're "normal" or the odd one out can kind of feel like high school, TBH. And, the truth is, when it comes to couples' sexual frequency, the answers vary. Every relationship is different and what feels right and comfortable for one couple, may not work for another. But alas, if it's numbers and stats that you're after, we're here to oblige—and of course, provide some helpful context, along with Dr. Laurie Mintz, LELO sexpert and author of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — and How to Get It.

So, how often do couples have sex? Let's dig into the data, shall we?

In this article:

How Often Do Couples Have Sex

Here for the numbers? According to 2022's General Social Survey (a decades-long project of the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago), the way it breaks down is this: Of individuals sampled who identified as being in a serious relationship with a steady partner, the majority reported, on average, having sex two to three times a month.

Fancy yourself a percentage person? Here's the nitty gritty on surveyed couples who were married, living together, or in a serious relationship but living separately:

  • 9% reported not having any sex
  • 10% reported having sex once or twice a year
  • 18% reported having sex once a month
  • 21% reported having sex two to three times a month
  • 19% reported having sex once per week
  • 16% reported having sex two to three times per week
  • 7% reported having sex more than three times per week

TLDR; No, not everyone is necessarily having more sex than you. But, as Dr. Mintz, reiterates, it's not particularly beneficial to compare yourself in the first place. "Don't SHOULD yourself when it comes to sex," she says. "Do what works for you and stop comparing yourself to others."

We know, we know—it's easier said than done. But, if it helps, more frequent sex isn't necessarily indicative of a healthier, happier relationship.

Does More Sex Make a Relationship Stronger?

Not according to the number gleaned from 2022's GSS: When again focusing on those who identified as having a steady partner, those who reported having sex more frequently weren't necessarily more satisfied in their relationship.

This aligns with a 2015 Carnegie Mellon study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, where couples were instructed to increase their sexual frequency—however, the couples' happiness actually decreased as a result. "We find that increased frequency does not lead to increased happiness, perhaps because it leads to a decline in wanting for, and enjoyment of, sex," reported researchers.

So where's the sweet spot? Wherever you and your partner deem it to be.

How Often Should Couples Have Sex?

First of all, let's eliminate the word should from this particular lexicon. That is ultimately up to you and your partner. "There is no such thing as too much [sex] unless it's interfering with one's life," reports Dr. Mintz—like you're shirking responsibilities to get it on, that is! "There is also no such thing as too little, unless one or both partners are upset and dissatisfied with the frequency," she says.

As Dr. Mintz explains, "The only thing that is important is that you and your partner communicate about your frequency rather than let it evolve by default. Ask each other, 'What's your ideal frequency'" and then find something that works for both of you. You are the only ones it needs to work for!"

So don't get too hung on those "How many times a week do couples have sex?" -type questions we know you've been Googling. Instead, ask yourself and your partner if you're satisfied with your sexual frequency—and then take things from there.

How to Have More Sex With Your Partner (If That's What You're Both Into)

According to a survey completed in 2020 by Lasting, a marriage counseling app, ninety percent of couples surveyed desired sex more than once a week. That being said, there are plenty of factors that could prevent couples from, well, coupling.

"There are individual, relational, and contextual variables that impact the frequency of sex, both in a having more and having less," says Dr. Mintz. "These include any physical ailments (e.g., chronic pain) or medications (e.g., SSRIs), psychological issues (e.g., depression, anxiety) and overall level of relaxation or stress."

As Dr. Mintz also points out, how equitable the division of household and child-rearing tasks are can also impact the frequency in which a couple has sex. "Research also shows the more equitable the division, the higher the level of couples sexual desire," she says.

Tips for Talking to Your Partner

"The best way to talk to your partner is to sit down outside of the bedroom and talk it over," encourages Dr. Mintz, who suggests the following script: "I want to talk to you about something a bit scary for me to talk about, and I hope you will keep an open mind. I love you and I love being intimate with you. I would like us to increase the frequency with which we have sex. In my ideal world, we'd have a sexual encounter X times a week. What are your thoughts?"

Dr. Mintz adds, "Couples who make [sex] a priority will often, in the midst of busy lives, schedule sexual encounters–something sex therapists routinely recommend."

"Also, as long as you are having this open discussion about sex, take the time to discuss making your encounters more novel and exciting," says Dr. Mintz, who explains that sex toys and aids like vibrators can help those have easier and more frequent orgasms and increased sexual satisfaction. "For the type of toys best for partner sex, I recommend a clitoral vibrator like the LELO Dot that can be used before, during and after intercourse, or a partner toy like Tiani Duo."

Again, the one thing to remember is that every couple is different. Your needs, schedules and preferences will always be unique to you—and that means your sex life will look different, too. Just be sure that you (and your partner) are both happy with how it looks. And if not, communicate. As Dr. Mintz so succinctly puts it, "The better the communication, the better the sex life."

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