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How often do married couples have sex?

How often are married couples having sex? (Getty Images)
How often are married couples having sex? (Getty Images)

If you're married or in a relationship (or even if you're not) it is natural to wonder how often other couples are having sex.

Whether you're getting it on every day, twice a month (like Katherine Ryan), every so often or once in a blue moon, it's normal to compare your sex life to others – especially in the frequency stakes.

However it turns out couples might be having less sex than you think.

How often do married couples have sex?

A recent survey by Ann Summers asked 2,000 British people in relationships about their sex lives, including how often they have sex, and whether or not they enjoy it. Research found that around half (49%) of Brits have sex at least once a week, while 19% have sex two or three times a week.

However, one in ten of respondents said that despite being in a relationship, they never have sex at all.

Other surveys have found similar numbers. A multi-year study of 35,000 British people, published in the BMJ, found about half of people in serious relationships have sex less than once a week.

A further YouGov poll found that age has a strong impact on how often people have sex.

On average 27% of the population have sex in any given week, including 11% who do it once, 7% who manage twice and 9% who have at least three sessions, but these figures are skewed by age.

There are many factors impacting how often married couples have sex. (Getty Images)
There are many factors impacting how often married couples have sex. (Getty Images)

While younger people are more likely to jump into bed with their partner several times a week, by 40, when many are likely to be in long marriages, activity drops to just once a week on average.

Turns out your location could also bump up (or down) how frequently you're having sex, with a recent survey highlighting which areas of the UK couples are seeing the most action between the sheets.

The research found that around 8% of people are having sex every day in London, and the second most frisky place is Northern Ireland where a third (30%) of residents say they have sex two to three times per week.

On the less frequent end of the sexual scales, the survey, by lubricant brand Knect (the new name for KY Jelly) who polled 2,000 Brits on their sexual habits, found that almost one in five respondents admitted to having fallen into a sexual rut.

And those in Norwich confessed they felt the least sexually connected to their partners, possibly linked to the amount of sex they are having.

Sex frequency may be impacted by age, but it doesn't have to be an end to intimacy. (Getty Images)
Sex frequency may be impacted by age, but it doesn't have to mean an end to intimacy. (Getty Images)

What's stopping married couples having more frequent sex?

Of course there are many factors that may impact the amount of sex married couples or those in a long-term relationship are having, starting with age.

"The frequency of sex can decrease as couples age and their energy levels diminish," explains Barbara Santini, psychologist at Peaches and Screams.

"Work, children, and other obligations can also create stress and diminish the time couples have to spend with each other."

The drop off in frequency of sex as couples age may also, in part, be explained by the menopause, which occurs around 51 years in the UK and can be associated with physical discomfort that makes sex difficult and a lower libido (though not always, if this is the case, there are things to help).

In a poll, of Gransnet and Mumsnet users, in association with Relate, almost a third (32%) of those over 60 said they had lost their libido since the menopause.

But older men can also be impacted by a lower sex drive too.

"Libido tends to decrease, for both men and women, with age," explains Dr Peter Stahl, SVP of Men's Sexual Health and Urology at Hims & Hers. "It’s normal for testosterone production to slowly decline as you get older, particularly after you reach 40.

"For men, there are many causes of a lowered sex drive including low testosterone, depression, stress, chronic health issues and excessive drug and alcohol consumption."

Intimacy isn't just about sex. (Getty Images)
Intimacy isn't just about sex. (Getty Images)

How to find your frequency sweet spot

Whether you're having less (or more!) sex than you'd like, it is important to remember that quality over quantity is key.

While there's no universal rule about how much sex you should be having, Santini says it is essential to communicate openly with your partner about your sexual needs and desires to ensure that both parties feel satisfied and fulfilled.

"Rather than viewing intimacy as an expectation or obligation, couples should strive to make it an opportunity for connection and pleasure," she explains. "By making time for spontaneity and exploration, couples can keep their sex lives exciting and fulfilling, strengthening the emotional bond between them.

"Ultimately, the right frequency of sex is one that feels satisfying and enjoyable for both partners," she adds.

It's also worth noting that the frequency of sexual activity in a marriage does not define intimacy.

"There are many other ways couples can express love and commitment to each other without having sex as often as they did before marriage," Santini explains.

"Understanding what type of physical and emotional connection works best for you and your partner can help establish a long-lasting and thriving relationship.

"Some couples might find that engaging in activities outside the bedroom strengthens their bond, while others may opt for more traditional forms of physical intimacy, like holding hands, hugging, or sharing a kiss."

It boils down to the fact that being open and honest with one another is key.

"Communication is an integral part of building and strengthening any relationship, especially within a marriage," Santini explains.

"Couples need to work together continually to understand each other's needs and expectations better, no matter what stage of life they are in.

"Ultimately, it's up to each spouse to decide whether or not having regular sex is essential. What's important is that intimate moments outside of the bedroom do not have to diminish, even after being married for 30 years or more.

"Couples can continue to find new and creative ways to connect and express their love, making their marriage even stronger and more fulfilling over time."

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