Jason Carrasco MSc., RP, RMFT
Are you having enough sex?
This month we have been focusing on ways to have good sex, while also exploring what exactly makes up good sex. For more on this - check out our latest podcast episode if you have not already had a listen.
How frequently should you be having sex? When it comes to sex, is there an actual number that you should strive for? This question can easily make its way into our minds. If you were to take a look at the world around us, we are constantly being bombarded with images or sex. Movies, television shows, video games, and advertisements (to name a few) are all telling us things that we should know about sex. Things like, what it should look like, how frequently it should happen, how hot and heavy it should be.
I’m using the term should quite loosely - and somewhat sarcastically to be honest. If we were to believe these messages, then something must be wrong with you or with your relationship if your sex life doesn’t look like what we’re being shown.
The truth is - these messages can cause more harm than good.
These pervasive images don’t tell us the story of the couple with busy lives; the couple with a heavy workload; the couple with children to take care of.
Previous sexuality studies have looked at this very question. Some of the earlier studies have shown that having sex in a romantic relationship helps to enhance their general well-being. The assumption here is that the more sex you have, the better you’ll feel (with yourself, and in your relationship). A recent study looked at this assumption and found that the benefits of having sex were reached when couples were having sex about once a week. This same study found that there was no difference in personal or relational well-being for couples who had sex about once a week than those who had sex more frequently.
What if frequency changes?
As with many things in life, change is inevitable. However, this inevitability does not always lead to bad outcomes. Studies have shown how sex in romantic relationships changes over time, especially as those in longer-term relationships begin to age.
If you’ve started to notice changes in the frequency of sex in your relationship, ask yourself: is this a problem? Studies have shown that shared expectations of sexual activity among partners in romantic relationships have contributed to better sexual and relationship satisfaction. But what happens if you and your partner(s) are on different pages?
Studies have used the “good-enough sex” model as a way to determine how do couples come together and figure out what makes the sex they have “good-enough”. This has helped determine what can help improve relationship and sexual satisfaction.
You’ve noticed a change in your sex life, now what?
Issues involving sex and our bodies touch on many different parts of our lives. Studies have shown that it has the potential to make us feel frustrated with ourselves, make us wonder why we don’t “measure up” in our relationship, and ultimately impacts how we interact with our partner(s).
It’s often easier to check things off as something being “wrong with my body” - and so we’ll most often go directly to see our doctor first. This is great - and is definitely a conversation worth having! It should not be the only conversation that you have with a professional.
Issues involving sex can sometimes come from issues happening in our bodies - or what is often referred to as being “organic” in nature. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes issues with sex have more to do with our minds than with our bodies.
When talking to your doctor, studies have shown that it’s important to include your romantic relationship in this conversation. If your doctor is not able to find an organic cause to your issue, it may be time to consider therapy with your partner(s). Studies have shown that there are a lot of techniques and theories that therapists are able to use to better address your sex related concerns. The important thing for your therapist to do, is to adapt what they do to fit your needs - not everything is a “one size fits all” solution.
How frequently you have sex is up to your relationship.
Change is normal and bound to happen.
If you feel that your sex life is problematic, there are different ways to help address this.
Sexual issues aren’t always problems with your body - there may be something else going on.
Conversations with your doctor should not just focus on your physical body.
A therapist can help support you, and your relationship, as you work through these sexual issues together.
If you find yourself experiencing difficulties with sex in your relationship, there are supports available. Feel free to contact us and set up an appointment today.