Do You Have a Healthy Sex Life?

There's never too much.

Jason Sudeikis & Olivia Wilde smiling
(Image credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

My friend Barry met his wife when they were both nineteen years old. He lost his virginity to her Junior year and they continued to date for many years, got married, and are still going strong ten years into their relationship. You know what helps? They have a lot of sex. Why is that important? Among other reasons, it means they still regularly remind each other that they think the other person is sexy. This means that they still feel appreciated in ways other than "because you do things for me." In talking with Barry, he attributes the success of his relationship in part to the fact that they have a healthy sex life.

This brings up the question: how much sex is "normal" for a couple to have? A 1994 University of Chicago study known as "The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States" is considered the most comprehensive in the field. The study showed that almost 80 percent of married couples have sex "a couple of times a month." Thirty-two percent reported having sex two to three times per week. According to Dr. Harry Fisch, a Dr. Oz contributor, married couples under 30 years of age on average have sex with each other about twice a week. For married couples between the ages of 50-59, the frequency is about once a week.

If these numbers seem high to you, don't despair. Some couples don't feel the need to express their love in this manner as frequently as others do. If this number feels low to you, awesome, here's why: there's a whole slew of studies about how having regular sex can help you emotionally, mentally, and physically. Sex relieves stress. It triggers the release of chemicals that improve mood and ease pain. It even increases immunity from viruses. So if you are in a strong monogamous relationship I am of the firm opinion that you should have a lot of sex. It's for your own good.

Are you still in despair? In my experience, the people who worry about whether they have a healthy sex life are the people who feel like they want sex more than their partner. If someone is in a relationship and both parties are into a once a week Saturday night romp-fest, then I don't hear many complaints. If someone is knocking boots with their partner all across town two to three times a day they might get a bit sore over time, but those complaints are mild. The people I know who raise the "Is our sex life healthy?" question see a discrepancy between their sex drive and their partner's and begin to worry about all sorts of things because of it.

If you worry about whether the amount of sex you have is healthy, look to whether you and your partner have healthy communication. Here are a few tips to get things back on track:

Pick your moment to discuss wisely

So you want to brooch the "I'd like to have more/different/awesomer sex" topic, the best moment is not during the halftime at the Super Bowl. It's not right when you both get home from work. It's not even right after sex, when he thinks he just rocked your world and might get confused. Pick a time when you are in the same space for an extended period of time and can have a conversation without a lot of interruption. Over morning coffee, for example.

Communicate from the heart, and about what you like

If your guy hears that he's not satisfying you he may get defensive. We're a bit childish when it comes to these things, so offer a lot of positive reinforcement. Tell him what you like about your sex life, and how you might want it more (or differently) and why. Speak from the heart, so he also remains open with you and doesn't try to shut down or change the topic.

Initiate sex in simple ways

Men don't want to always be the one who initiate sex. I have one friend who told me that his wife wants it more frequently than he does. She lets him know that in simple ways, by reaching out and touching him, or kissing him discreetly in public on their way home. Or grabbing his hand and dragging him into the bedroom. Not unlike you ladies, we men have the desire to feel desired. Yes we're good for household chores and a warm body to sleep next to, but we need to know that you need us to get off too. So reach out in simple physical ways and don't be surprised if we respond in kind. The answer to the "Is your sex life healthy" question ultimately won't be found in a survey. It will be based in communication with your partner and making sure you're having the amount and type of sex you both feel good about. So if you're worried about this question, talk to your lover, and get back on track.