‘Am I having the right amount of sex?’ is an age-old question. We ask it when we’re young adults, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to lose our virginity. We ask it when we start out in a new relationship, and are worried that we’re having so much sex that we might actually be damaging our organs. And we ask it, perhaps less enthusiastically, when we’re in long-term relationships, and we realise we’ve had more physical contact with our dog in the last year than our partner.
As we grow older, and children, responsibilities and a hectic work regime threaten to knock sex lower down our list of priorities, it’s common to start having less sex. But with relationship help books like ‘The 30 Day Sex Challenge’ perpetuating the idea that more sex equals a happier relationship, you could be forgiven for thinking your flagging sex life is a symptom of something seriously wrong in your relationship. But can science guide us on this issue? Is there a perfect number of sexual encounters to aim for, and if so, what is it?
An oft-quoted study from the University of Toronto attempted to answer this question once and for all, compiling research from three separate studies spanning over 30,000 respondents to determine that sex once a week correlates with the greatest relationship satisfaction. The study further found that having sex more than once a week gave no added benefit. However, this study has an obvious flaw in that it does not address whether couples who are having regular sex are doing it because they’re happier in the first place. A 2015 study which asked half the participants to deliberately double the amount of sex they were having found this decreased happiness, rather than improved it.
With different studies contradicting each other, it seems likely that there is no ‘magic number’ when it comes to sexual frequency within a relationship. If you’re happy with the amount you’re having sex and so is your partner, there’s no reason to feel dissatisfied simply because you think the neighbours might be doing it more than you, or because the Daily Mail has a headline saying you should be doing it three times a week. The ‘normal’ amount of sex varies depending on age, relationship stage, libido, work schedule and relationship duration, so there really is no ‘normal’ to judge yourself against – but if there’s a big discrepancy between how much sex you and your partner think is normal, or you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction, that could be a more serious problem.
While there’s no formula for achieving sexual satisfaction, sexual satisfaction is important for happiness, and if there’s an imbalance in the amount of sex desired, it can breed frustration and resentment with your partner. This is one of the reasons erectile dysfunction can be so devastating, yet many sufferers are too embarrassed to seek help. Research from NATSAL found that 1 in 6 people reported suffering from a health condition which affected their sex life over the last year, but only 24% of male sufferers sought help for their condition. As specialists in testosterone replacement therapy in London, if you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction, the Wellman Clinic can help – and if you have any other condition or anxiety which is affecting the quality of your sex life, our experienced doctors can help with that, too.
If you’re dissatisfied with your sex life, there’s no reason to suffer in silence. Sex is one of life’s great pleasures, and it can be an important part of a fulfilling relationship – but comparing your sex life to others’ isn’t always the best way to find happiness. If you’re happy having sex once a month, forcing yourself to have sex twice a week isn’t going to help you, and vice versa – just make sure you and your partner are on the same page, the lines of sexual connectivity are open and that you deal with any underlying issues for maximum contentment.