Our sexual habits and lives aren’t static things. Sometimes we have a stable sexual partner, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes our libido is through the roof, sometimes we’re just not feeling it: we’re stressed, we're tired and the lure of the pillow is too damn strong. All of which is fine – we’re only human.
While none of this matters and there’s no “correct” frequency for sex, it does matter whether or not we’re satisfied. But, sadly, new research suggests a lot of women are unsatisfied with their current sexual situation.
A fifth of women aged 30 to 80 are unhappy with their sex lives and just 17% claim to be very satisfied, according to a survey of 2,002 women by Ipsos Mori, commissioned by the Daily Mail. (The sexuality of the women surveyed is unclear.)
When it comes to how often they’re having sex, just 10% said they had sex at least once a week. Half said they did it once a month or less and a further 10% said they had sex once a year, if that. Over a quarter (27%), most of whom were divorced, single or widowed, said they never had sex.
When asked why they sometimes avoided sex, a quarter said they did so because they were too tired. Others attributed it to feeling anxious (13%), a lack of intimacy with their partner (11%), and their partner’s issues, such as erectile dysfunction (6%).
The youngest group surveyed (30 to 44-year-olds) were the least satisfied with their sex lives, despite having the most sex, suggesting there’s a lot more to sexual satisfaction than frequency. A quarter of this cohort were dissatisfied, and 11% were very dissatisfied.
Peter Saddington, a Nottingham-based sex therapist for Relate, said a lack of time and energy, and feeling under pressure were some of the the most common reasons for not having sex. "Actually being in a relaxed enough state to have sex just doesn’t happen. You go through a period of time of squeezing sex in, then it becomes dissatisfying so you end up not doing it at all," he told the Mail.
"It can become a chore, it can become boring if it’s repetitive, uninteresting and there’s no involvement or enjoyment."
Natika Halil, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, a sexual health charity, recommended open communication for improving sexual satisfaction in a relationship. "By sharing your sexual likes and dislikes, ideas about what you’d like to try, or speaking up about things you don’t want, it’s much easier to find pleasure with each other," she told the Mail.
"It also means you don’t have to act as a mind reader and play a guessing game of what works."