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Sheryl A. Kingsberg, PhD

Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor Departments of Reproductive Biology and Psychiatry Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Cleveland, OH

Q:

What is a "normal" or typical amount of sex for a person to have per month? If a perimenopausal woman is only interested in sex once every three to four weeks, is that abnormal?

A: 

What a great question. I'm sure it's one many women think about but few have the courage to actually ask. Here is the most important thing you need to know: There is no such thing as a "normal" amount of sex. Sex is a very individualized thing. What I might consider normal might be way too often for you, and what the woman down the road considers normal might be not often enough. Also, "wanting" sex and "having" sex are two different things. For example, some women may "have" sex more often than their body actually craves it, to compromise with or please a spouse with higher drive.

A survey of 2,000 Americans published in 1993 found that 32 percent of women said they had sex one or two times a week, 18 percent had sex twice a month and 11 percent once a month. Among women 40 to 49 (those most likely to be perimenopausal), 38 percent had sex one or two times a week, 18 percent twice a month and about 11 percent once a month.

What does this mean for you? Absolutely nothing. Your desire for sexual activity is composed of so many variables that trying to determine what's "normal" or not is virtually impossible. For instance, if you have children still at home, particularly young children or teenagers, a stressful job, problems with your relationship or health problems, the thought of sex might be at the bottom of your list.

So how do you know if you have a "problem"? You may have a problem if the frequency (or lack thereof) of sex with your partner interferes with the quality of your life; if you find yourself worrying about it, wishing it were more (or less) frequent; or becoming a contentious topic in your relationship or in your overall ability to be intimate with your partner. That's when it's time to talk to a therapist or even your health care professional.