But there’s an obvious problem with the “how much sex should you be having?” question: it has an obvious answer. When it comes to the question of “how much sex should you be having,” the answer is: as much as you damn please.
This is far from the first time that researchers have tried to gauge whether there’s a platonic ideal for how often people should be boinking. Research shows that sex tends to drop off after marriage — not due to lack of interest, but due to other life responsibilities, like having kids, interfering with sexual activity. (When you’re frantically Googling “how to remove smeared poop from drywall” at 3 a.m. while your wild-eyed, sleep-deprived wife stalks around like Claire Danes in Homeland, sex is probably the last thing on your mind.)
These responsibilities aside, other studies have indicated that there’s a specific number of times you should be having sex per week, with one study indicating that once a week is enough to achieve happiness (though what type of happiness — marital? personal? A general sense of the type of spiritual enlightenment embodied by fitness gurus on Instagram and people who don’t wear shoes at 7-Eleven? — is unclear.)
The problem with dictating how many times you should be having sex, however, is that it’s predicated on the idea that there’s a hard number that works for everyone — and there just isn’t. There seems to be this pervasive idea that maintaining a healthy sex life is like a diabetic maintaining his blood sugar level: if you dip too low or too high, you’re in danger. While there is some research to support the idea that having a few orgasms a week is beneficial to your health, there’s no reason to believe that there’s a quota for PIV intercourse, and that failing to adhere to that quota makes you a crappy boyfriend or husband. (If she’s working or sick or stressed-out or away — guess what? God made your hand, Jim Beam, and Kleenex ultra-soft facial tissue for a reason.)
In our culture, there’s a sense that you have to have a certain amount of sex to maintain a state of equilibrium in your relationship, and that there’s a resource that can tell you, with mathematical certainty, what that exact number is. But if we’re being perfectly honest, it varies pretty widely with different people.
In fact, for married people in particular, there’s a tremendous range: while 34 percent of married couples have sex two to three times per week, as the New York Times reported in 2009, 15 percent of married couples haven’t had sex in six months to a year. There are many reasons for this mid-marriage sex drought, including work-related stress, having kids, and postpartum hormone levels for women who have given birth. But whatever the cause of dry spells, they’re a lot more common than you’d think. (For tips on how to get rid of dry spells once and for all, check out our course on how to pleasure a woman.)
That said, you probably should ring the alarm if your sex life takes a dramatic dip for no apparent reason. If you find that you’re boning with about as much frequency as Kanye beefs with Jay-Z, that is probably an issue. What is not an issue, though, is struggling to fit sex into a jam-packed schedule, because that is a problem that literally every damn couple on the face of the planet has.
So unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio and your penis will literally spontaneously combust if it’s not inside an Estonian model (which would frankly explain a lot of his behavior), stop worrying about whether you’re having enough sex and start worrying about whether the sex that you are having is good, for both you and your partner. (And if you’re confused on that point, feel free to peruse Men’s Health’s 50 tips for better sex.)