How much sex does a happy couple have?

It's not uncommon for couples to go without sex for months. Here's what experts have to say about the minimum number of times a week couples must have sex for a great relationship.

Curated from: Bangalore Mirror

Suresh Aiyer, a 38-year-old executive who works for a multinational company in Mumbai doesn’t remember the last time he got some action between the sheets, he tells us candidly. “Really, I can’t recall,” says Aiyer who has been married for 10 years. His wife, Komal is a beautician, and the couple lives in Mumbai.

“A few months ago, we had gone on a holiday, but all we did was sleep,” says Aiyer, who says he imagines his situation is unusual. But, in fact, it isn’t. For urban residents, sex, it seems, takes a backseat, substituted these days by an active social life, visibility on social media and the pressures to make it big.

Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist, blames globalisation behind dwindling sex drives. “The pressure of modern life has taken a toll on lifestyles and consequently on our bodies. The endocrine gland is affected when one gets too stressed, and that affects mood, which, in turn, reduces the frequency of intimate interactions,” says Shetty.

It’s a pandemic

The disturbing trend has been reported around the world. According to a 2017 study that has been published in the journal,Archives of Sexual Behavior compared to a decade ago, Americans who were married or living together had sex 16 fewer times per year in 2010-2014. The study also reports that when compared to results from 15-20 years ago, Americans had sex about nine times fewer times per year in 2010-14. In Japan too, the situation is the same. A 2017 survey conducted by the country’s family planning association revealed that nearly half of all married couples had not had sex for more than a month.

The numbers may vary in India, say sexologists, but the urban scenario doesn’t seem too different. “I get a lot of patients complaining of a lack of sex where they have had sex once a month or even twice in three months. I advise them to prioritise sex. Having sexual intercourse at least three times a week helps people to stay healthy and, for those in relationships, it helps maintain good interpersonal relationship,” says Dr Pavan Sonar, a Mumbai-based counsellor and sexologist. Sonar tells us many of his married patients report they have sex only once a month, “and this has been going on for years.”

Dr Hitesh Shah, a Mumbai based sex educationist, counsellor and therapist highlights the problem here with two examples. “Last week, the papers reported that a woman cut off her husband’s penis for denying her sex for years. In another incident, a Mumbai man sought to divorce his wife for demanding too much sex.” Shah believes these situations should be alarming for any society. “Many of the young couples – some who have been married for up to five years – who have come to me for help have not even consummated their relationship,” he shares. “Mismatched libidos are often the cause.”

What’s happening?

One reason sex recedes into the background is the fact that many are conditioned to think of the act as purely a means for procreation. The actor, Pooja Bedi believes, “When one has sex to procreate it becomes a matter of duty. However, recreational sex is fun and an intimate investment.”

But, in families where both the wife and the husband work full-time, it may be hard to fit sex into a hectic schedule. Living with the in-laws could be another reason why couples hesitate to engage in the activity. The presence of children or the fact that they hop in and out of their parents’ bed also works as a deterrent. Sonar, however, adds that for some, having children in the bed is a way to avoid having sex. “That could be because of some physical issues or mental blocks,” he says.

You need it

Experts say sex is vital not only for the pleasure it provides, and the fact that the act encourages bonding between partners, it actually keeps the body and mind healthy.

“During sex the body secretes endorphins which are a natural painkiller,” says Sonar, “besides, it stabilises the hormones and works as the ultimate stress-buster.” In fact, a 2007 study showed that, aside from being a powerful means of communicating between partners, sex also boosts self-esteem and helps ease social anxiety.

So, how much is the right amount? In the 2013 book The Normal Bar authors, Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz and James Witt prescribe having sex three to four times a week to achieve, “prime levels of happiness.”

How to have more sex

Switch off the TV, and start talking to each other about your sexual fantasies.

Be honest with yourself about the ways in which you turn your partner down and deny her or him sex. Why do you do it? Do you need help with house work? Do you feel she or he does not care for your needs in bed? If so, address your concerns and deal with the problem instead of sweeping it under the rug.

Learn how to seduce. Let your partner know that she or he is wanted. Try and remember the things that would turn him or her on, and make an effort to do those, like you once did.

Encourage. Even if you haven’t said so in so many words, your behaviour could be sending the signal that your partner does not know what he or she is doing. Use words. Explain what you like, and thank him or her for a good performance.

Plan your ‘naughty time’. Couples should take trouble to make time to keep the sexual energy alive in their relationships. Don’t make it mechanical by circling the days off on a calendar but do check yourself into a hotel once every few months.

Make your bedroom privacy a priority. Kids can wait, as can the in-laws. Don’t make the space a shrine to your family with photos, or a reminder of your duties. Use candles, essences and pretty bedding to create an atmosphere of romance.