Perhaps among the most common questions asked about sex is how often we should be having it. The answer is also among the least understood, with urban myths and abstract statistics causing people to stress over the health of their sex lives.
We know that sex, when practiced safely, does lead to a number of health benefits. These perks include everything from an improved immune system to lower blood pressure and increased bladder control.
But many folks face anxiety over whether they’re having enough sex, or perhaps too much. Confusing data, along with a lack of healthy conversation about that data, is a huge part of the problem.
According to the Kinsey Institute via Psychology Today’s Laurie Mintz:
“[Eighteen to] 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.”
The real issue is that these numbers don’t factor for variables like sex addiction or pleasure derived from reported sex and only define sex as vaginal intercourse. Excluding a representative sampling renders the data difficult to decipher and completely useless for many couples.
The average young person simply isn’t actually having sex 112 times per year. That’s just a number derived from averaging out the numbers reported by groups of heterosexual people.
There’s also a widely repeated misperception that men need sex twice a week to avoid sexual frustration. Urologist Dr. Marc Richman discounts this entirely in Jezebel.
“There is no medical reason why a man needs to have sex twice a week and I do not believe that recommendation is based on any legitimate scientific data. “
The recommendation apparently finds its roots in “reverse engineering” based on reports that the happiest couples have sex at least twice per week.
Given the absence of queer individuals, along with the fact that stated averages appear to leave out asexual people as well, the data simply can’t be trusted. In fact, one out of 100 people report being asexual, and no serious doctor would argue this represents a health concern.
Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, believes people are making a problem out of a “nonissue” when they try to make the frequency of the sex they have consistent with arbitrary numbers.
The real trick is making sure that you (and your partner, if applicable) are satisfied and maintaining a genuine connection with each other. Sexual frequency is not the measure by which you should judge your sexual health, unless you’re personally unhappy with the amount of sex you’re having.
To quote Dr. Durvasula again: “Intimacy is important — make it more about the connection than the checklist.”
If you have serious concerns about your sex life, consult your medical provider. But don’t stress over unrealistic statistics or hearsay about how much sex you should be having.