How Often Do Married Couples Have Sex?

The average American married couple has sex about 55 times each year but 15.6% of married people report being sexless for the past year.
split screen image featuring a donut chart on the left depicting that 15.6% of marriages are sexless with an image of happy newly-married couple smiling at one another while riding in the back of a limo after their wedding on the right
Updated:November 2023

The average married couple in the United States has sex about 55 times per year [2], but 15.6% of married people report being sexless for the past year. [6]

Key Statistics To Know:

  • Married couples in America have sex around 55 times each year. [2]
  • Compared to those who are single, divorced, separated, or widowed, married people have more sex. [3]
  • 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 sexual partner, compared to those who were separated or divorced (6.1%), widowed (.6%), or never married (18.9%). [1]
  • 15.6% of married people reported being sexless for the past year, but 13.5% reported being sexless for the past five years. [6]
  • One study sample found that “happiness is related to the quality but not the frequency of sex.” [4]

We’ll explore the frequency of sex among married couples (as well as those living together), how common sexless marriages are, and how often couples “should” have sex — based on studies related to marital happiness and the average reported frequency among various age groups.

How Often Are Married Couples Having 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 around 55 times per year, compared to those who are sexually active but never married (around 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 sexual 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]
  • Compared to those who are single, divorced, separated, or widowed, married people have more sex. [3]

While marriage is both culturally and statistically associated with declines in sexual activity over time, married individuals still tend to have more sex overall compared to those who are unmarried, simply because they have a partner at least potentially available for sex.

How Common Are Sexless Marriages?

donut graph depicting that among married americans, 15.6% report being sexless for the past year and that additionally, 13.5% report being sexless for the past five years
  • 15.6% of married people reported being sexless for the past year. [6]
  • 13.5% of married people reported being sexless for the past five years. [6]
  • Among those who are divorced or separated, 16.6% report having sex in the past year, compared to 24% who reported being sexless for the past year. [6]
  • Among those who are divorced or separated, 18.6% report having sex within the past five years, compared to 20.2% who report being sexless for the past five years. [6]

Sexless marriages occur for many reasons — mental or physical health problems, relationship issues, sexual dysfunction, and discomfort with sex in general are several examples.

While certainly couples vary in their levels of desire for sex, in my experience counseling several men in sexless marriages, a lack of any sexual contact is very often linked with decreased intimacy overall.

Those who keep some sort of physical contact, even when sexual intercourse is not possible or desired, seem to keep the spark alive more strongly than those who abandon sex altogether.

How Often Should Couples 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.” [4]
  • 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.” [5]
  • Americans in their 20s have sex around 80 times per year. [2]
  • Americans in their 30s have sex around 77 times per year, compared to those in their 40s (around 60 times per year), and in their 50s (around 40 times per year). [2]
  • Americans in their 60s have sex around 30 times per year. [2]
  • Americans in their 70s and 80s have sex around 10 times per year. [2]

As a Sexologist I have been asked many times how often a couple “should” have sex.

There are certainly no rules, and while quality definitely trumps quantity, data does suggest regular sexual contact is usually beneficial.

Of course, individuals vary greatly in their levels of sexual desire and face different circumstances that can interfere with sexual activity, though prioritizing sex does matter.

Sources: