Ask the Doctors: How Often Should We Be Having Sex?

Is there a certain number of times per week you should have sex with your partner? For example, if you have it once or twice a week (or even less), is there something wrong with your relationship? Or if you have it six times a week, or every night, is your relationship only based on sex? I’ve always wondered this …

Asking how often or how long you “should have sex is like asking how often you should eat. The answer is “enough that you feel satisfied without overdoing it. Don’t worry about what magazines or websites say your neighbors are doing- the only thing that matters is what works for you!

If you’re feeling like you’re not getting the sexual satisfaction, physical contact, or attention from your partner that you want, then your needs aren’t getting met and it’d probably be good to change that. On the other hand, forcing yourself to have sex because your partner wants to or because you think you should is a great way to build resentment and that can damage relationships. Instead, it’s always a matter of finding the middle ground between too little and too much. That zone will change from day to day and over your lifetime, so checking in with yourself and with each other is essential.

Ultimately, the answer to your question is that there isn’t any answer. Frequency of sex doesn’t tell you if the relationship is good or not. There are some couples who never have sex, for any of a number of reasons, and they’re still happy. Other people in similar situations are miserable. Some people have a lot of sex and are deeply in love, while other people with similar sexual habits fight all the time. Whatever your sexual patterns, if you’re feeling good about each other, great! And if you’re feeling disconnected, angry, or resentful (whether those feelings are the cause of or the result of your sexual interactions), it’s important to take care of that.

Having said that, it’s quite common for people who are feeling upset with their partners to not want sex. Sexual frequency is often the canary in the coalmine, signaling that there are some deeper issues. A lot of therapists report that people come to them with sexual problems, when the real cause is something else. When those concerns are taken care of, sex suddenly starts working better. And of course, once sexual problems arise, they can cause their own difficulties. So if you’re feeling upset about your sexual patterns, it’s a good idea to work that out.

Regardless of how often you have sex, if you’re feeling fine about it, don’t stress. And don’t compare yourself to what other people say they do, either. It’s not really useful because it doesn’t tell you whether they’re happy or not.


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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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