Obviously, Sex Makes You Happy

The next time you’re tempted to pass up on weekly sex, don’t! There’s a new study making its rounds that states that the couples who have sex once a week are the happiest.

The study, which was published today in Social Psychological and Personality Science, was authored by Amy Muise, who is a postdoctoral fellow as well as sex and romance researcher at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The study has three parts, each part taking into consideration the frequency of sex that married couples have, as well as the couples’ happiness levels.

“Our research suggests that couples do not need to aim to engage in sex as frequently as possible but instead aim to maintain a connection with their partner.”
–Amy Muise, lead author

For the first part of the study, Muise took information from biannual surveys taken between 1989 and 2012. The surveys were given to more than 25,00 people between ages 18 and 89. Couples would answer questions regarding how often they had sex and how they perceived their happiness. This study did link sex to higher levels of happiness, but only with the frequency of having sex once a week.

The second part of the study involved online surveys given by Muise to 335 people online, most of whom were straight. It confirmed the results of the first study, but Muise went a step further and compared annual household income to the participants’ happiness as well. She found that, essentially, weekly sex was more important to happiness than annual income.

The last part of the study was a 14-year-long survey of 2,400 married couples. This part, like the second, confirmed the findings of the first survey. By the way, the researchers didn’t see any differences in the findings based on gender, age or length of relationship. The findings also didn’t prove that the frequency of sex affects happiness, because they weren’t looking to prove a cause-and-effect.

So, if once a week is good, then would even more lead to couples being even happier?

“It wasn’t bad to engage in sex more frequently than once a week. It just wasn’t associated with greater well-being on average,” Muise said. In fact, in a 2015 paper, 128 couples were recruited and divided into two groups. One group was asked to double the frequency of sex, while the other group changed nothing. At the end of the survey, the couples who doubled their sexual exploits weren’t any happier than their counterparts. In fact, they experienced less happiness and less enjoyment of sex.

Muise uses that as a reminder to couples “not to feel pressured to live up to a certain ‘number’ when it comes to sex frequency.”

“Perhaps this is the average since it seems to maximize the benefits for well-being,” Muise said. “It is likely that weekly sex is enough for the average couple to maintain their intimate connection and to feel like they have an active sex life, and this is why we see this as the leveling-off point.”

Russell Smyth is a professor of economics at Australia’s Monash University who studies sexuality. He has done his own research, which has yielded results similar to Muise’s. He states that couples are happier when sex is better, but for different reasons. Men most likely gain happiness from the physical aspects of sex, while women gain their happiness from the emotional experts.

Smyth does, however, offer a theory as to why more sex isn’t always better.

“It is like having an ice cream,” Smyth said. “You enjoy your first ice cream. You also enjoy your second ice cream, but by not as much. You might also get some enjoyment from your third one, but even less because you are fuller, concerned about calories and so on.”

[Featured image by Three Lions for Getty Images]