Sex: How Often Is Enough?

By: Letty in Education, Relationship & Dating (Posted February 11, 2011)

Most people think other people are having more sex than they are. In truth, the only people having a whole lot of sex in my opinion are those in that dizzying first phase of romantic love when you are literally drugged by your own hormones and just can’t keep your hands off each other. There’s an old saying that goes, “Before you get married, put a bead in a big jar every time you have sex. Soon you will fill the jar. After you get married, take out a bead every time you have sex. You will never empty that jar.” Scientifically, the reason this is true is that when you move from the giddy throes of falling in love to the comfy Sunday-morning-with-pancakes-and-the-paper stage of a relationship, a different hormone takes over. You don’t get a rush of adrenaline and other inner opiates that makes you crave a sexual encounter anymore. What you do get is a steady stream of the bonding hormone oxytocin. (It’s the same one that pumps copiously when a woman is in labor or breastfeeding.) In other words, the neighbors probably aren’t doing it any more than you are if you’ve been together for a while — and that’s just fine.

Here is some hard data I found about the frequency of sexual encounters. According to a University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center General Survey in 2005, the number of reported episodes of intercourse go down with each decade of life:

Ages 18–29: a mean of 84 episodes per year

Ages 30–39: a mean of 80 episodes per year

Ages 40–49: a mean of 63.5 episodes per year

Ages 50–59: a mean of 45.8 episodes per year

Ages 60–69: a mean of 27.1 episodes per year

Ages 70 and older: a mean of 10.4 episodes per year



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