Let’s talk about sex, baby. More specifically, the amount of sex in your life.
Study after study (after study) has shown that there are very real health benefits to getting busy. “Sexual health is general health,” says Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, a gynecologist at the Southern California Center for Sexual Health. “It has far-reaching implications, from improved sleep to improved cardiovascular function to a decrease in stress.”
“Sex has far-reaching implications, from improved sleep to improved cardiovascular function to a decrease in stress.”
Holistic Sex and Relationship Coach Kim Anami agrees. “All the feel-good chemicals released in the ascent to orgasm, at orgasm, and in afterglow elevate you,” she says. “Dopamine increases your drive and ambition; oxytocin makes you more relaxed, kind, patient, and loving; testosterone will make you perform better at work; endorphins will reduce your stress and leave you feeling elated.” And those are just the physiological effects.
“Sex plays an important role in our relationship,” says sex therapist Laura Berman, PhD. “Not only is it awesome for our physical health, but it’s also crucial for our emotional health and our connection to our spouse.”
And yet, coupled millennials are having nine times less sex than the previous generation. Sure, this dry spell leave you with more time to devout to #squadcare (score)—but does it also mean everyone is missing out on the good-for-you effects?
Keep reading to see if sex is a big enough part of your life.
How much sex is enough?
Is there some exact number of weekly sex-capades a person needs to partake in to experience these post-coital highlights? Or will the sporadic roll in the hay (or 500-count hotel sheets) do the trick?
All the experts I polled were careful to say that every couple is different. “There’s no magic frequency with which people should have sex,” says Debra Herbenik, PhD, author of Because It Feels Good. “Couples ebb and flow due to travel, illness, how well they’re getting along, sleep quality, and so on—and that seems to be a better pattern than aiming for a certain frequency.” Fair enough.
“More than a month without sex can become a slippery slope for couples, especially if you’re trying to rebuild a connection.”
What about from a medical perspective? “We don’t know the exact frequency of sex that results in overall general health,” admits Dr. Krychman. But a 2004 study from researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania suggests that having sex once or twice per week leads to higher levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A—AKA, a stronger immune system.
Once a week is also the sweet spot recommended by Berman. “More than a month without sex can become a slippery slope for couples, especially if you’re trying to rebuild a connection,” she says.
In order to prioritize intimacy, Anami suggests scheduling weekly “sex dates.” For these, cancel your dinner reservation, focus on each other, and definitely turn off Netflix.