How Much Sex Is Too Much Sex?
Maybe you’ve skipped dinner and gone straight for dessert before, but if you’re skipping meals (and other vital things) to have sex instead, you might be having too much of it. While science suggests sex can improve mood and decrease anxiety by reducing stress signals in the brain, it’s possible doing the deed can interfere with leading a healthy life . Don’t get us wrong — sex is a normal, healthy, fun part of adult life. In fact, Greatist Expert Ian Kerner says sexual attraction and sexual compatibility are the basis of many successful relationships. Thinking with our nether regions may be natural, but continually acting on those thoughts while the laundry piles up for weeks may be a sign of a sexy-time dilemma. So how much sex is normal, and how much is too much?
Sex Rx — Why It Matters
Let’s break down the deets between the sheets. According to the Kinsey Institute, 18- to 29-year-olds have sex an average of 112 times per year, while 30 to 39-year-olds do the deed (on average) 69 times per year (what a convenient number). So if that’s average, what’s healthy? Kerner says most couples in a relationship should be having sex at least once per week. And couples therapist Dr. Barry McCarthy agrees that once or twice a week makes for a healthy sex life. During the infatuation stage (also known as the honeymoon stage, when two people can’t stop thinking about each other) couples often have sex every time they’re together, Kerner says. And when couples first move in together, the frequency of sex increases (but only temporarily) .
With all that, err, gyrating, sex can get a bit uncomfortable. (Let’s just say our bodies can’t exactly stay lubricated indefinitely.) If there’s pain or numbness, it’s smart to slow down or bag it for the night. Using lubricant can make for more pleasurable sex, and can actually help ensure safe sex because it makes condoms less likely to break. Lubricants also allow cut down on that painful friction. Whether a marathon or a quickie, sex should be fun, and most definitely shouldn’t cause bodily damage.
Let’s Get It On (But Not Too Much) — The Answer Debate
It may be a cue to hop out of bed when sex gets in the way of leading a normal, healthy life. Having nookie through breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and skipping out on the 9-5 just because you’d rather shag like Austin Powers can become problematic if it happens on a regular basis. (But seriously, sex addiction can be a real problem, so if your sexual habits are getting in the way of day-to-day life, it’s best to consult a doctor or therapist.)
At the end of the day, it comes down to quality over quantity. Having a ton of sex doesn’t mean it’s too much, so long as both partners enjoy it, Kerner says. If one partner is much more satisfied than the other (read: one is having more orgasms than the other), than sex can feel like a daunting chore.
There’s no “right” way to go about sex, and preferred amount can vary from person to person. For a fulfilling sex life that’s juuuuuust right, it’s helpful to be honest and open about how frequently you’d like to get jiggy with it. One study found couples who communicate about sex — especially during the act — are more sexually satisfied. If it feels like too much (either physically or emotionally), let your partner know you need a break. Sex can be dangerous if there's any sort of pressure or force to do something you don't want to do.
Just remember compromise is key: Instead of singling one person out for how much or how little they want sex, research suggests assessing the couple as a whole and that meeting in the middle can be helpful . As funny and un-sexy as it sounds, it may even be smart to schedule sex so the lower libido partner doesn’t feel pressured, and the higher libido partner doesn’t feel rejected . Our hunger to get frisky comes and goes, and successful couples need to manage those ups and downs. Sometimes libidos will be matched, but when they’re not Kerner says we need to take responsibility for our sexuality, by enjoying ourselves by ourselves. “Masturbation is an important aspect to a healthy life. If you have a higher libido, masturbate more,” he says.
Thanks to Greatist Expert Dr. Ian Kerner and Dr. Barry McCarthy for their help with this article.
How much sex do you think is too much? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.
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