How Often Do Most Couples Have Sex

As a sexual health doctor, this is the number one question I hear. But it’s not the whole story. 


By Dr. Harry Fisch

The number one question I’m asked about sex: how often is normal? 

The average man has eleven erections every day (including partial erections). Teenage boys and men in their twenties with high hormonal levels might think it’s totally normal to have sex several times a day. But in my experience, I’d say that the typical average is two to three times a week. That was also the figure in the American Sexual Behavior Study, a 2006 survey reporting that the average frequency of sex for married couples went from about once every two-three days for couples between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine, to about twice a week for couples between 30 and 50, and less than once a week for older couples. 

Couples of any age in the early phase of a love relationship tend to have a lot of sex—daily if not more frequently. But the frequency of sex declines as any relationship ages, although married couples have more sex than those who are single. Obviously, regular access to sex makes it more likely to happen! 

Remember, these are averages. Some couples are happy with more frequent sex, some happy with less frequent sex. If you only feel like having sex once or twice a week but find those encounters deeply satisfying, that’s normal for you and that’s totally fine. Not wanting any sex at all is not. 

And that’s really the point: not how much sex you’re having, but whether you and your partner are happy with the sex you are having. Quality wins out over quantity every time. It’s all about the satisfaction. 

That said, quality sex isn’t just about frequency. It’s also about the length of the sex act. 

There have been studies in which couples consented to be scientifically observed having sex, and one of the observers timed each session with a stopwatch to make a fairly accurate assessment about the length of the coupling. Not surprisingly, there is an extremely large variation in the time it takes a couple to have sex, ranging from the excessively short (about two minutes or less, which famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey dryly noted was a “frequent source of marital conflict”) to the “Are you done yet?” (over forty minutes). 

An astonishing 45 percent of men finish the sex act too quickly, which is to say, within Kinsey’s conflicted two minutes. That’s pretty speedy. Way too speedy for the average woman to be able to have an orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. At least five minutes, and more like seven, is usually what’s needed for a woman to be able to achieve orgasm.

And even though the average length of the average inter-vaginal sex session is about 7.3 minutes, that’s still not particularly long, especially for women who usually take much longer than men to become aroused enough to have an orgasm. 

So if your man is done within two minutes of things getting hot and heavy—or still not done 40 minutes later—you may want to gently broach the idea of getting a medical checkup to make sure everything’s functioning correctly. And don’t worry: As I discuss in The New Naked, if 7.3 minutes doesn’t seem like enough time for you to get the satisfaction you need, you and your partner can learn to express what you do need or want, so you both can be happy in bed and out.###

Excerpted from The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex Education for Grownups. Copyright 2014 by Dr. Harry Fisch. Reprinted with permission from Sourcebooks.

Image via Flickr.


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