Dear Dr. Jenni,
My wife and I are newly married.
We are in our late 50s, and this is our second marriage. When we first married (different partners) in our 20s, we had sex multiple times a day. In the beginning of this marriage, we started out having sex almost every day, but after two years, we’ve slowed down to about once a week. How often do couples have sex these days? What is normal? Are we just old farts?
—Frequency for Old Farts?
After the honeymoon stage in any relationship, the frequency of sex declines. For some it declines a lot, for others a little. According to the research polls, once a week is right on target.
The National Opinion Research Center reports that the average American couple has sex 66 times a year, or about 1.2 times a week. As for having more frequent sex when you were in your 20s, the report claims that married adults under 30 have sex 109 times a year, or about 2.1 times a week. In your 40s, the number decreases to 70 times a year, or about 1.3 times a week; and 52 times a year for people in their 50s.
While you perfectly fit in with the national averages, each couple is unique and needs not be a statistic. If you want to have more sex, make a date of it. Or perhaps commit to having intercourse only once a week, and leave the rest of the weekdays for other play such as oral sex, sexy showers or sensual massages. Remember, when you have pleasure, fun and intimacy, frequency naturally increases.
Dear Dr. Jenni,
I work as a nurse in an assisted living home for older people. I love my patients and want the best for them. Recently, I had a 92-year-old man ask me if it was OK to start having sexual relations with his new girlfriend, another 88-year-old female patient. I told him I would get back to him, but honestly, I’m too nervous to ask my boss about protocol around this, and I don’t really know what to tell him. Suggestions?
—Sex in Assisted Living Homes
I’m glad you wrote in! This is a very important question that needs to be addressed in all health care scenarios. Our sexuality need not stop at any particular age. There is a myth that older folks, especially those in assisted living homes, are not sexual beings.
Quite the contrary! There is more time to be sexual, and more wisdom under the belt to know that sexuality is an integration of mind, body, spirit and relationship. Furthermore, sex is an excellent form of exercise for older people. Of course, it’s still important to provide condoms for safe sex and prevention of STDs.
While I am not your boss, I think it’s fabulous that this older couple is interested in finding some private time to have sexual intimacy. I hear that you are nervous to bring up this topic. However, think about how much courage the 92-year-old man had to ask you! Before talking to your boss, practice in the mirror or role-play the conversation with a friend. You will want to know the protocol around this before talking to your patient. You may be surprised to hear what is permissible. Or, this might be an opportunity to help create important and improved guidelines for your patients’ well-being.
Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.