Why Are Couples Having Less Sex?

Figures prove that couples are having less sex today than previously. We take a look at why this might be happening.
Why Are Couples Having Less Sex?

Last update: 01 May, 2022

You arrive home from work and you’ve still got chores to do. Children, shopping, looking after the home, etc. When you finally have some time to yourself, you just want to go to bed and abandon yourself to sleep, without having to think of anything else. The days, weeks, and years go by. Only once in a while do you stop and think about what’s really happening and it can be pretty scary.

It’s hardly surprising that most couples say they’d like to have sex more often. This isn’t just a question of individual sexual drive. In fact, as a general rule, people are having less sex than they want.

For this reason, several professionals have started to investigate what’s behind this decline in sexual encounters. In this article, we’ll identify the causes that are contributing to the trend.

Couples are having less sex: the figures

In reality, life for many people is rarely separated from their work and daily tasks. When it comes to entertainment, the options are endless, especially in cyberspace. So what place is left for sex in this scenario?

A study conducted in the United States obtained data indicative of this trend. It discovered that the frequency of sexual intercourse has been significantly reduced.

The study stated that, in 2010, adults had nine times less sex than 20 years ago. The decline was shown mainly in stable couples, those who had children in common and who didn’t consume pornography.

The lowest figures were observed in coital and penetrative practices in stable heterosexual couples. According to intergenerational testimonies, sex used to be conceived as just another daily activity, a way to pass the time doing something fun.

Couple talking in their bed, showing that they're having less sex.
Nowadays, quality is preferred over quantity in sexual relations.

Why are the stats lower?

What’s happened since this study was conducted? As a matter of fact, ten years after its publication, the figures were following the same trend. Experts struggled to discover the causes. Those they found are listed below:

1. Sex as a routine

Thirty years ago, society was much simpler than it is now, not only in thought but also in the way of life. Leisure options, lifestyles, or matters related to work were also far less complex. In fact, we could say that sex had fewer competitors.

This meant that sex carried more weight as an option for having a good time. This leads us to the next factor.

2. Live to sleep and prepare tomorrow’s meal

Nowadays, working days are endless. Not only in the literal sense of people who spend 12 hours (or more) working, but also those who continue to receive orders from their boss via cell phone when they leave the workplace. Consequently, the line between everyday life and work often becomes blurred, thus the desire to have sex decreases.

Furthermore, with the incorporation of teleworking, the working day has been extended. Furthermore, you might sleep and work in the same physical space. This makes it difficult to disconnect and, therefore, think about sex.

3. Fatigue and capitalism

All of the above leads to a generalized physical and mental state of fatigue in the population. Women and people in charge of children are the ones who suffer most from this chronic lack of energy. Indeed, although the general trend suggests a move towards equality, the differences between genders are still notable.

Capitalism punishes anyone who doesn’t put work first, particularly those who aren’t white men. Although, in countries where the rights of minorities and equality are more developed, better figures for sexual satisfaction are recorded.

4. Anxiety and depression

Mental health is another pending issue in the Western world. Anxiety and depression are the two mental disorders that most affect sexual desire and sexual satisfaction. Obviously, no one experiencing psychological suffering will feel in a position to have sex on a regular basis.

Anxiolytics and antidepressants also reduce libido.

Anxious woman in bed
Depression decreases sexual desire.

5. Not more, but better

Another of the intergenerational differences in terms of sex is in the way it’s viewed. There’s been a change from it being seen as a part of daily routine to a leisure activity and demonstration of intimacy. Therefore, although sex has always been associated with pleasure, there are now new rules regarding its practice.

The ideology surrounding sex in recent generations is another reason why couples are having increasingly less sex: quality is preferred over quantity.

Nowadays, the sexual act is often measured down to the last millimeter in order to create the best experience. For this reason, if people don’t have too much time to work hard on it or guarantee the satisfaction of both partners, they tend to leave it for later.

While this last reason is a good justification for having less sex, all of the above are problems in our society that need solving. As always, the argument is the same: you can live without sex, but not without good health. Surely, when people are guaranteed a decent quality of life, sexual figures will increase.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Wellings, K., Palmer, M. J., Machiyama, K., & Slaymaker, E. (2019). Changes in, and factors associated with, frequency of sex in Britain: evidence from three National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal). bmj365.
  • Twenge, J. M., Sherman, R. A., & Wells, B. E. (2017). Declines in sexual frequency among American adults, 1989–2014. Archives of Sexual Behavior46(8), 2389-2401.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.