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Parents have sex?!?

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Ana asks:

How often do parents have sex?

Sarah replies:

The answer to that question depends entirely on the parents in question.

Parents are people and have sexual desires just as do folks who don't have children. Just like anybody else, folks who are parents may have more or less sex of any given type throughout their lives. In general, we do know several things about the frequency of sex for anybody. The longer individuals are in relationships, typically the less often they will be sexually active (at least for periods of time). It's important to remember that we're talking about averages here, not about the individual. For one couple, a couple of times a month may be satisfactory, for others it may be more like a couple of times a week or more. At the start of relationships, we're often in that "honeymoon" period where we just can't get enough of the other person and may want to be sexually active very often. However, as we become more and more comfortable with our partner and other parts of our lives come to the forefront, we may be satisfied with partnered activities on a somewhat less frequent basis. Also, in the lives of any individual, there will be times where we may have other things going on with us that are more important than sex and take our priority and energy. When we're going through major life changes or lots of stress, for example, we may not have a lot of extra time and energy for sex. When the individuals in question have children living with them (especially young children), the kids may require a lot of care and energy and thus reduce both the opportunity for and desire for sex at times. In terms of individuals who are new parents, again it's not uncommon for other things (like learning to care for a child) to take the priority. Additionally, if we are talking about a woman who has given birth (as opposed to couples who have adopted), she may not be able to take part in most sexual activities that involve genital contact for a certain length of time after delivery (especially if there were complications during the birth). Also, new mom's may have to contend with postpartum depression or body image issues that may make them feel less ready to return to sexual activity right away.

Really though, just like those without children, parents can be sexually active as often as they desire. As our lives and our relationships change, we may find it necessary to renegotiate the kinds of sex we're having and the frequency of various kinds of sex. You may want to check out our article Sexual Negotiation for the Long Haul for more information. There are also many other things that people (parents and non-parents) can do to experience intimacy without actually having sex. Sometimes simply sitting and talking quietly with a partner or snuggling while we watch a movie can be just as satisfying as sexual intimacy. Those types of activities can help couples continue to feel connected, even when they may not have the time or energy to devote to sex at a given moment.

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