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Sexual Frequency: How Much Sex Is Enough?

Lissa Rankin's picture

story_of_20_toes_cartoon_funny_intimate_lookHowdy, rock stars! Today, I want to talk about a question many of you ask yourself but rarely say out loud. How much sex is enough sex? What’s “normal?” So many people worry that they’re not having enough sex- or that they’re having too much. Take two people getting it on with the same frequency- twice per week. One may be completely frustrated because she wishes she was doin’ the bump daily. The other may be resenting the pressure from her partner and wish she could scale it back to once a month. Truth is, we’re all SO different.

What’s “Normal?”

According to the Kinsey Institute, 18-29 year olds have sex an average of 112 times per year, 30-39 year olds an average of 86 times per year, and 40-49 year olds an average of 69 times per year. 13% of married couples have sex a few times per year, 45% a few times per month, 34% 2-3 times per week, and 7% 4 or more times per week.

What happens when you're not having enough sex?

Almost half of married couples have sex a few times per month. Does that surprise you? It kinda surprises me. When you think back to a time when you had sexual mojo- in the true, Austin Powers sense of the word- how often were you having sex? What happens to us? I know, I know- jobs, kids, fatigue, illness, marital challenges- they all threaten to rob us of our mojo. I had a patient- let’s call her Sophie- who had a baby, and afterwards she said she honestly didn’t care if she never had sex again. Many confounding factors played a role- she was breastfeeding, she had postpartum depression, and the medication she took for her postpartum blues didn’t help her libido. But seven years later, things haven’t changed much. The kids are older and sleeping through the night, the postpartum depression is gone, and she’s off her meds. But Sophie is still picking up the marital pieces of years of abstinence.

Another patient- we’ll call her Monica- married her high school sweetheart and had been married twenty years. At first, things were hunky dory, but as the years passed, their sexual frequency dropped off until they were only having sex a few times per year. She tried seducing her husband, because her sexual needs demanded more sex than she was getting, but to no avail. As a result, her self-esteem dwindled and her mojo went poof. She asked if he was gay, but he denied it, saying that he was attracted to women- just not her. Ouch. Monica came to me to ask if she was “normal” because she wanted sex every day. She worried that maybe she was a sex addict- that something was wrong with her for wanting to enjoy more physical pleasure with her husband. Four years later, I hear they’re getting divorced. No big surprise there. I feel for you, sister.

How much sex is enough? My straw poll:

After talking with Sophie and Monica, I got really curious about sexual frequency. How much sex is enough? So I started asking people in relationships to answer these three questions:

1) How much sex would make you perfectly blissful?

2) How much sex would make you feel satisfied and content?

3) What’s the bare minimum sexual frequency you would need to get by, if you knew it wouldn’t last forever (such as when your partner is ill)?

The Answers:

The answers I got from my little straw poll were surprisingly consistent. Granted- my study selection was limited mostly to married couples with children- so it’s a skewed population. And I asked more men than women. But here’s what they said:

1) Blissful- 3-5 times/week

2) Content- once/week

3) Bare minimum- once/month

What My Tweeps Have to Say About Sexual Frequency

I asked my buddies on Twitter how much sex was enough, and here’s what they have to say. Dr. Jeanette, a licensed psychologist, says, “When you have enough sex, you know it. Just like an orgasm, there is no doubt!” She believes that you’re having enough sex when “you’re full and satisfied, and your cup runneth over. Divine sex is the only sex that touches the whole body.” For more on the formula for divine sex, visit Dr. Jeanette’s website (and follow her on Twitter @DorisJeanette). @PheasantPhun says, “Money and sex are similar. When you have some, you can’t get all you want. If you don’t have any, you can’t get any. Another similarity between money and sex, you only need enough to get by on, and some days you need way more than others.” @ThingsMomsLike says, “Seems like it ebbs and flows through the years and if no one is dissatisfied, it's all good. We check in. If it's been a while, we talk about it, and usually it's a mutual sense of just being too tired.” @stephanieelliot says, "How much do we get it on? A lot more now that hubby is home and walking around nekkid!" @amandabeez says, “Can you ever have enough?”

My Sex Life (TMI?)

What do you Pinkies think? I can’t help comparing everyone else’s answers to my own sex life (you’re probably counting boinks right now- it’s impossible not to compare ourselves to others, isn’t it?) My husband and I probably get down about once or twice a week (twice is a good week- once is probably more average). I’m pretty sure if I showed up in my black teddy more often, he’d be all over that, so I guess I’m the brakes in our sex life. Why don’t I put out more often? I mean, I love my husband and I think he’s totally sexy. So what gets in the way? Time, energy, not wanting the burden of any more expectation in my life. But we’re content. Is content good enough? Not sure. Could it be better? I think so. Could we grow in mojo as we explore our sexuality together? Yes. Will we? Hope so.

What I Think

I guess, when it comes right down to it- here’s what I think about sexual frequency. If you and your partner are both happy, it’s enough. Nuff said. If one of you is dissatisfied, it bears exploration, because those seeds of discontent breed loss of mojo and relationship discord. Can you talk to your partner about it? I know sex is hard to discuss, but can you touch base periodically and check in? If you and your partner disagree about sexual frequency, can you make compromises? So often, we make assumptions about our partners that simply aren’t true. Maybe you wish you could have sex twice a week, but your partner only wants it every other week. Maybe you assume your partner just isn’t that sexual, when in truth, your partner just doesn’t always want to put in the hour-long ordeal of loads of foreplay. What if you could just have a quickie every now and then- just to tie you over? Would you be willing to sacrifice quality for quantity? Or is it all about quality- and quantity be damned?

What Do You Think, Pinkies?

We’ll be digging deeper into this topic- quality vs. quantity- in upcoming posts, so stay tuned. But for now, tell me what you think, Pinkies. How much sex is enough for you? Are you able to talk to your partner about your wants and needs? If you’re not putting out, why not? What roadblocks are keeping you from Owning Sexuality in a rockin’, kickin’ sexy way? What can you do to better Own your sexuality? It’s all part of Owning Pink, and we’re in this together. Let’s talk. And while we’re at it, can you help me make an Owning Sexuality playlist? What are your favorite sexy jams? Post your comments below.

Tata for now, you sexy thang!

Lissa

PS. Wanna join the fun on Twitter? Follow me at @lissarankin. And are you painting your life Pink? Enter the contest to win a free Ipod.

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Round-Up of Extraordinary Bloggers & Podcasters's picture

[...] Sexual Frequency: How

[...] Sexual Frequency: How Much Sex is Enough? – Many of you know how much sex Alisa and I have from listening to Episode 001 of our podcast or reading our blog, but Lisa asks her community what they think is enough. Lisa is someone I’ve been following on Twitter for some time and she is a fireball of energy. Check out Owning Pink. [...]

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dearest Brigitte, My editor

Dearest Brigitte, My editor will probably smack me, but here's two snippets from my upcoming book What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. Hope they help!

I want sex all the time, but my husband doesn’t seem the least bit interested. Am I the only woman in the world who has to beg a guy for a little nookie?

No, honey. You are definitely not the only woman who wants sex more than her partner. A recent survey conducted by Woman’s Day Magazine and AOL questioned 35,000 married women and found that 79% want sex more often, and only 19% call their sex life satisfying. Michele Wiener Davis, the author of Sex Starved Marriage and Sex Starved Wife, reports that 20% of all marriages have sex less than 10x per year. Grim odds, eh?

One of my patients, Lily, was a virgin when she married her high school sweetheart, so she didn’t have any other partners by which to evaluate her experience. After years of a nearly sexless marriage, Lily, who longed for a more intimate relationship with her husband, blamed herself, and her self-esteem suffered. But there was absolutely nothing wrong with Lily. It wasn’t until she separated from her husband and connected with a new lover that her sense of self blossomed. Short of finding another lover, what can you do if your relationship is not as sexual as you wish? Dr. Michelle Gannon, San Francisco psychologist, couples therapist and founder of Marriage Prep 101 Workshops, offers some suggestions to improve your love life: 1. Let your partner know in a gentle, loving, non-complaining way that you would like your relationship to be more sexual. 2. Invite your partner to share thoughts on what might help him get in the mood. 3. Find out if there are certain times of the day that he feels more amorous. Make an effort to accommodate your sexual schedule to his. 4. Stress and fatigue can deplete sexual desire. Ask him to brainstorm how he might reduce the stress in his life. 5. Talk to him about masturbation. Some men may not have enough sexual juice to masturbate in the shower and still have sex with you. 6. Gently bring up the issue of porn. People who are addicted to porn may lose interest in real live sex. If this is an issue, ask him to cut back or get help. 7. Remember that, while half of the population needs no external stimulation to feel sexy, the other half needs to be kissed, touched sensually, and physically aroused before they feel turned on. This applies to men, as well as women. 8. Keep in mind that decreased libido is a sensitive subject for most men, so be gentle with him. Many men are embarrassed if they are not interested in sex. 9. Read books together, attend an intimacy workshop, or see a counselor. 10. Last, but certainly not least, make sure the problem is not health-related. If you can’t tell, have him visit a doctor. Lou Paget says. “The number one robbers of intimacy and sexual connection are fatigue, stress, and limited time. When men are stressed, especially regarding money, it completely wipes out libido. It may be that you have a naturally higher libido than your partner. Or maybe something (or someone) is in the way. If he was interested in sex before but things have changed, ask him why. If there’s no one else and he’s already done what he can to manage his time and stress levels, keep in mind that testosterone levels are lowest in the evening. Maybe it’s time for morning sex.” Disparities between your partner’s libido and yours can rob you of your self-esteem. Remember that, no matter what, you are beautiful, sexy, worthy, and lovable.

Brigitte Bauhart's picture

As a very healthy Women's

As a very healthy Women's Circle member, I have to say that as we, my husband and I approach 47, for the past 7 years of our 23 year marriage living in sin, and courtship, sex has been ok, when previously it was red HOT and smoking...I am frustrated. I have initiated, flirted... He says that the teens in thehouse are an issue. Excuses. Exercise really helps libido and so does just doing it. I like the idea of both quickie and gourmet sex and anything in-between. Can I slip him a "spanish fly"? Any suggestions, I like Dr. Oz's approach-schedule it, with a babysitter.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Great thoughts, Jenn! And

Great thoughts, Jenn! And thank you for sharing your stories and your wisdom. Yes, fatigue is the killer. And I'm with you- morning is great (but tricky with a 4 yr old). I guess we all have to find ways to be creative. xoxo Lissa

Jenn's picture

my women's circle was just

my women's circle was just talking about this yesterday. Most of us are in our 40's, some menopausal or post menopausal, almost all with kids in their teens or older. We talked about our cycles of desire, about some women wanting it more often than their husbands, about the need for education in the female genitals and handling of them, dildos, about time of day that is good for you (I discovered Sat 10 am is my best time, or Sunday, but not midnight on a weeknight or any night). We joked about the box of 24 condoms that was a 2 year supply. About frequency and mood and just talking. The sexiest thing my hubby could do for me when the kids were little was wash the dishes or talk to me for an hour. That's a turn on. Surprises, whether gifts or dates or trips, are a turn on. Doing it in the bathroom instead of the bedroom works for me. And fatigue is the #1 all time killer of fun. There are supplements like Sex Essentials, and herbal remedies like Oatstraw for increasing a tired mid-life libido - but if there are underlying issues like adrenal fatigue or thyroid problems - it's worth seeing a doctor and not just chalking it up to boredom or complacency in a marriage. We've been married 25 years and there's been lots of ups and downs, from 465 X a year to 12 times a year, and back up again. Dialogue is the thing that has helped the most...and willingness to try new things. love this conversation, a true Scorpio jenn

Sex… « Waiting for the Click's picture

[...] read this article

[...] read this article months ago on Owning Pink and I was surprised to find out that more than half of married couples [...]

Sarah's picture

What a great article! These

What a great article! These things don't always come up on conversation and sometimes it's just plain awkward when they do.

I'm with the 3-5/week would be blissful crowd. Interestingly enough in our bedroom, it's me that wants sex more than my husband. We still have sex 2-3 times a week, which is nice, but I wish it were more and that a) he would want me more (like he used to) and b) that he be the one initiating things. I've definitely heard that men wanting more sex than women isn't always the case (exhibit a). While we've been married a couple years, we don't have any kids and I just worry that our sex will continue to diminish as the years and kids come. Is that irrational? What would you suggest?

I will say, we did have a great discussion last week where I aired this (again) and he said that if I were to improve on a couple things in our relationship that it would help motivate him.

Melissa Derbyshire's picture

Oh, wow! It's so nice to hear

Oh, wow! It's so nice to hear that it's not permanent! I was reluctant to go back to condoms because that's how we got pregnant with our two children (oops!) although we're so glad to have them. I didn't know that other pills were an option. I'll see if I can get a prescription. Thanks, Doc!

And yes, I would LOVE to open up a wider dialog about this.

Melissa

Lissa Rankin's picture

Thanks, Pinkies, for sharing

Thanks, Pinkies, for sharing your thoughts. What about the rest of you out there?

I want to pay some extra Pink love to Melissa, Hopeless in Houston. I'm gonna put my doc hat on for a minute to see if I can help. First off, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I would venture to say that MOST of my patients are having sex no more than 2-3 times/month, at best. Sad? Maybe, but true. So Maria and melissa, you two are blessed. It's not typical, from what I see in my practice. But that doesn't mean it can't change.

I have a quiz I give my patients from Pink Posse member Dr. Rachel Abram's book The Multi-Orgasmic Woman. The quiz breaks down your sex life into different categories to help you assess what might be the problem with any sexual challenges you face- whether they're related to your health, your relationship, your past, your medications, your body image, etc. I'll ask Rachel's permission to see if I can post the quiz on Owning Pink. It helps a lot of my patients really focus on what's going on and serves as a great conversation starter for us to talk about sex.

I don't know the details of your situation-the health of your relationship, your physical health, whether you've ever been raped or molested, whether you take any other medications, how you feel about your body. All those things play a huge role in libido for women. But you mentioned that you're on the Pill, and that can definitely play a role. If you're on a pill like Yasmin, Ortho-TriCyclen, Yaz, Orto-Cyclen or any of the other newer generation birth control pills that tend to be good for your skin, you might consider changing. The older pills- like Lo-Estrin and Ortho-Novum- are better for libido (although less ideal for acne). Or you may want to switch to a diaphragm, condoms, or an IUD, which won't affect your libido in the same way.

But don't worry- changes that occur are related to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which binds your testosterone (your sexy hormone) and makes it less active. And they're reversible. No permanent damage has been done. If you stop the pill and still have issues, chances are your libido issues aren't related to your hormones. Female libido is insanely complicated. Unlike with men, you can't just give us a pill like Viagra and expect us to go zinging straight to the bedroom. So much of it is in our mind- not to say you're crazy, but that we create sexual feelings mentally and emotionally. And while hormones do play a role, they're only a piece of the beautiful Pink puzzle that makes us female.

If all else fails, you may benefit from some bioidentical testosterone cream, which your doctor or integrative medicine practitioner can prescribe from a compounding pharmacy. This helps many women who otherwise struggle with issues of libido.

I could go on- in fact, maybe I'll make a whole post out of this, Melissa, because it's such a common dilemma. So stay tuned. And hang in there. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure it will resonate with many others, and that's what I want to promote on Owning Pink- true community between women, since we are all unique, but our stories overlap in so many ways.

Big Pink hugs, Lissa

melissa's picture

my husband and i,

my husband and i, consistently in our 7 years of marriage, have sex 2-3x/wk. i love it. it's a great release. we have the same sex drive. we enjoy the sex we have and look forward to it. we are able to talk about it and discuss what we want and need. it's great!

Maria's picture

Is there such a thing as too

Is there such a thing as too much sex?

With two little kids, it is hard to section out some time but I think once a day would be the best!

I don't get it once a day but have no problem taking care of things myself.

Most of my friends tell me they wouldn't care if they didn't get it again for the rest of their lives which is crazy to me. I can't imagine a time when I won't want it.

Melissa Derbyshire's picture

Oy, what a loaded question!

Oy, what a loaded question! There are only 2 things my husband and I have fought about over the years... sex and money.

We don't fight about sex any more, because I think we've just come to a place of accepting that we can't both get what we want. But there's definitely room to be happier.

This is a two-fold problem:

The first is universal. Women need emotional intimacy to have sex and men need sex to have emotional intimacy. Unless you never fight and never have fought, the perfect cycle of pleasing each other gets broken and it's really hard to start it again.

The second problem is not universal, but certainly common. My husband wants as much sex as every other man his age (29) but my sex drive is ridiculously low. Let me make this clear: the sex is VERY GOOD. But getting into the mood is like trying to force myself to go running. No matter how much I know I'll feel better afterward, I just can't get motivated to go through with it.

What's the cause of this? I've thought about seeking medication, but I really don't like taking drugs. I've read that the Pill reduces sex drive, and that even coming off of it doesn't repair the damage that is done. It permanently screws up your hormones. Is this true? And if so, what can I do??

Hopeless in Houston! Melissa

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