How Often Do (Or Should) Couples Have Sex: By Age, Orientation, And Relationship Status

Married couples have sex about 55 times each year and sex frequency between couples often declines from midlife through the elderly years.
split screen image with a bar graph on the left depicting the number of times couples have sex each year (married, 55; never married, 59) with a sweet photograph of a couple snuggling in bed together on the right
Updated:December 2023

Married couples have sex about 55 times each year [2] and research has found that sex frequency between couples often declines beginning at midlife through the elderly years. [4]

Key Statistics To Know:

In this article, we’ll explore statistical data on sexual frequency among couples across several demographics (married/unmarried, heterosexual/homosexual, and younger adults in college), as well as how often couples “should” have sex.

How Often Couples Have Sex (All Ages)

bar graph depicting that among men and women aged 50 to 59, 32% engage in partnered sex weekly, 28% engage in masturbation weekly, and 22% engage in oral sex weekly
  • Americans in their 20s have sex an estimated average of 80 times per year. [2]
  • Americans in their 30s have sex an estimated average of 77 times per year, compared to those in their 40s (an estimated average 60 times per year), and in their 50s (an estimated average 40 times per year). [2]
  • Americans in their 60s have sex an estimated average of 20 times per year. [2]
  • Americans in their 70s and 80s have sex an estimated average of 10 times per year. [2]
  • A 2021 study found that 54.1% of men aged 18 to 24 and 55.4% of women aged 18 to 24 had vaginal sex in the previous 30 days. [5]
  • One study found that among men and women aged 40 to 49, 44% reported having sex with a partner weekly. [4]
  • 34% of men and women between the ages of 50 and 59 report having sexual intercourse weekly. [4]
  • 26% of men and women between the ages of 60 and 69 report having sexual intercourse weekly. [4]
  • 54% of the respondents aged 75 to 85 years old reported having sex as frequently as at least two to three times per month. [3]
  • 23% of 75 to 85-year-olds reported having sex as frequently as once per week or more. [3]

Sexual frequency varies by age, with younger couples having sex more often than older couples.

Of course, frequency does not necessarily equate to satisfaction.

While couples tend to have sex less often as they age, many report greater pleasure and intimacy.

Becoming more comfortable with one’s body and sexual needs over time can lead to more honest and intimate sex, even if it does not happen as often.

How Often Married Couples Have Sex

bar graph depicting that among americans, married people have sex about 55 times per year compared to never married people who have sex about 59 times per year
  • On average, married couples in America have sex about 55 times per year, compared to those who never married (about 59 times per year). [2]
  • 66.1% of those aged 18 to 49 who reported having penile-vaginal sex less than once per week were married or living with a partner, compared to those who were separated or divorced (8%), widowed (.4%), or never married (25.5%). [1]
  • 74.4% of those aged 18 to 49 who reported having penile-vaginal sex at least once per week were married or living with a partner, compared to those who were separated or divorced (6.1%), widowed (.6%), or never married (18.9%). [1]
  • 21.8% of those aged 18 to 40 who reported having no penile-vaginal intercourse were married or living with a partner, compared to those who were separated or divorced (9.3%), widowed (.7%), or never married (68.2%). [1]

As a generalization, living with a partner is associated with greater sexual frequency for the simple reason that a partner is potentially available for sex.

Married couples tend to have sex less often than cohabiting couples, likely for many reasons — including older age, increased stress, and increased likelihood of having children.

However, sexlessness among couples has recently been on the rise, which may be related to increased mental health issues, technology use, and later age at marriage/childbearing are some possible reasons.

How Frequently Couples “Should” Have Sex

text graphic on the topic of sex frequency and happiness that reads: one study found that happiness is related to the quality of sex, not the frequency of it
  • One study sample found that “happiness is related to the quality but not the frequency of sex.” [8]
  • Another research paper involving three studies found that among those in relationships, having sex once per week is associated with well-being, but greater frequency is “no longer significantly associated with well-being.” [9]

Desired sexual frequency varies greatly by both individuals and couples and desire discrepancies are common.

Nonetheless, in general, sexual quality trumps sexual frequency — we would rather have great sex less often than mediocre or poor sex more regularly.

The quality of sex can be influenced by both individual (mental/physical health, sexual function, stress, trauma, etc.) and relationship (communication, trust, intimacy, etc.) factors.

How Often Gay Couples Have Sex

bar graph on how often gay couples have sex, depicting that among males in a same-sex relationship who were asked how often they engage in sex more than 2 times per week, about 8% said never, about 17% said hardly ever, about 24% said occasionally, about 28% said usually, and about 23% said always
  • About 8% of males in a same-sex relationship reported never having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 17% of males in a same-sex relationship reported hardly ever having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 24% of males in a same-sex relationship reported occasionally having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 27% of males in a same-sex relationship reported usually having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 22% of males in a same-sex relationship reported always having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]

On average, men in same-sex relationships tend to have sex more often than those in heterosexual or lesbian relationships, though obviously, couples’ behaviors vary.

Current data show that sex twice a week or more is common for over half of gay couples.

How Often Lesbian Couples Have Sex

bar graph on how often lesbians have sex, depicting that among females in a same-sex relationship who were asked how often they engage in sex more than 2 times per week, about 11% said never, about 24% said hardly ever, about 30% said occasionally, about 25% said usually, and about 10% said always
  • About 11% of lesbians in a same-sex relationship reported never having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 25% of lesbians reported hardly ever having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 30% of lesbians reported occasionally having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 25% of lesbians reported usually having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]
  • About 10% of lesbians reported always having sex more than 2 times per week. [6]

Lesbian couples tend to have sex less often than gay couples, with just over 1/3 usually or always having sex twice a week or more.

Of course, sexual frequency does not equal sexual satisfaction for any sexual orientation and is influenced by the quality of sex.

How Often College Couples Have Sex

illustrative graphic featuring five silhouettes of young-looking adults with text below explaining that men and women both have an average of about 5 different sexual partners during their college years
  • One survey found that among students actively enrolled in college in the United States, 43.9% reported never having vaginal intercourse, while 30.4% reported doing so within the last two weeks. [10]
  • That same survey found that 5.9% of college students reported having vaginal sex more than 2 weeks ago but within the past month; 7% reported having it more than a month ago but within the past 3 months; 6.8% reported having it more than 3 months ago but within the past year; and 6% reported that their last vaginal sex took place more than a year ago. [10]
  • Men and women both had an average of 5 different sexual partners throughout their college days. [7]

Among college students who are sexually active, almost 1/3 recently had vaginal intercourse while about 1/4 had sex more than 2 weeks ago.

While many students may only have 1-2 partners and limit sex to serious relationships, those who have more sex partners tend to skew the average.

College is a time when many younger individuals explore their sexuality, whether in a relationship or more casually as part of “hookup culture.”

Sources: