It’s been a heavy couple of years. The pandemic isolated everyone, and we’re still reintegrating into society. One thing that suffered was people’s sex lives, and some studies show that people are having less sex than they used to. However, that isn’t always a bad thing. Here’s why people might be having less sex and how to make the most out of the sex they are having.
Factors Affecting the Decrease in Sex
When surveys show that people aren’t having sex as much as they used to, the first culprit is often porn or other sexual aids. Yet porn use isn’t necessarily to blame, since usage isn’t significantly higher than it has been in the past. Further, for most people, masturbation doesn’t take the place of sex; instead, it’s a complementary addition.
Another factor driving the decrease in sex is that some people may not be having the sex they want to have. People with vulvas have long had their sexual pleasure take a back seat to their partner’s pleasure—especially if their partner was male. Now that more is known about how to get women off, they may not settle for sex that doesn’t turn them on.
Still others may be engaging in sexual activity—like oral sex—but they don’t personally define it as sex. Our narrow definition of sex to include penetration and exclude just about everything else is a disservice to pleasure in general. But the fact that people are having less sex in the technical sense may mean they’re having better sex—if they’re engaging in activities that are outside the common definition. Further, they may be having sex that’s more likely to lead to orgasm if their partner has a vulva. This is a win for pleasure and inclusion!
Further, people are more aware of the sexual spectrum and more comfortable being transparent about their identity, especially if that identity is asexual. The ability to be upfront about their desires could be having an impact on the numbers, too, since before, asexual people may have had sex they didn’t want to have in order to feel normal or relate to others. As the stigma around asexuality decreases, the instance of undesired sex will decrease as well.
Finally, some couples go through periods of sexlessness. This is a common though often devastating experience. For information on how to get through it, watch my video below:
Having Less Sex Is Okay
The truth is that the quantity of sex doesn’t matter as much as quality. If people are having the amount of sex they want, whether the overall amount is increasing or decreasing doesn’t matter. Giving yourself permission to say “no” to sex is just as important to consent as saying “yes” to sex.
What’s more, having less sex isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re still exploring your erotic side. Amping up your masturbation skills, trying out roleplay or kink, and indulging your sensual side are equally as important as having sex. Zeroing in on how much sex people are having isn’t as important as learning about whether and how they experience sexual pleasure. The more pleasure and consent-focused our culture becomes, the better.
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Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to take the sex quiz for women.