How Much Sex Is Too Much?

As long as you're listening to your body and don't have pain, the sky's the limit.

If you're sexually active and are frequently engaged in sex, you might be wondering, how much sex is too much—and what are the repercussions of having too much sex, anyway?

Here's something to put your mind at ease. "The definition of frequent sex is variable, and if it feels good and doesn't hurt, then sex at any frequency is okay," said Rebecca C. Brightman, MD, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive medicine at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

In other words, the number of times a person has sex a year is different for everyone. You can have as much sex as you'd like as long as you're not experiencing any adverse effects like pain. If you are experiencing discomfort, swelling, irritation, or otherwise, listen to your body and take a break from sexual intercourse. If the side effect is severe or lasts a long time, you'll likely want to talk to a healthcare professional.

It also helps to know what these signs look like specifically. Here's when you should maybe give your body some respite from sex—your own personal "too much" warnings.

What's Average?

While sex frequency varies from person to person, research has been able to estimate the number of times people have sexual intercourse. An average adult has sex 54 times a year (once a week, basically, with a few extras thrown in), according to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2017. And that can change depending on a few different factors.

One of the factors is age. The study reported that Americans in their 20s had sex about 80 times a year on average. After about age 50, it's not uncommon for sexual frequency to start to decline. By the time people are in their 60s, they have sex about 20 times a year on average.

Another factor, which may be surprising, is that the study found the number of times people had sex declined among people who were partnered (whether married or living together) but stayed relatively steady among unpartnered people.

Having Too Much Sex—What Are the Risks?

The main physical hazard of having a lot of sex is excessive swelling of the vagina and labia, Sherry A. Ross, ob-gyn in Santa Monica, California, and author of she-ology and she-ology: the she-quel, told Health. "With a lot of sexual stimulation, the vagina and labia become engorged with blood, and this can lead to excessive swelling and pain with sexual contact," explained Dr. Ross.

The vulva is the term used to describe all external female genitalia, which includes the labia, the opening to the vagina, the clitoris, the mons pubis (or pubic mound), and the anus. The labia, or lips, are the folds of skin around the vaginal opening. The vagina itself is internal. It is the muscular canal or tube that leads from the vaginal opening to the cervix of the uterus.

Aside from leading to swelling and pain in the vagina and labia, a long sex session can also cause the natural lubrication of the vagina to dry up. If the vagina is too dry, friction and pain can occur.

"If you haven't had the right amount of foreplay to become sexually aroused and get wet, the vagina will be dry—making sex painful when the penis or fingers enter the vagina," said Dr. Ross. Dr. Ross pointed out that vaginal dryness can also occur in menopausal people, resulting in a burning sensation inside the vagina during sexual contact and penetration.

If you end up with a swollen and/or sore vagina after sexual contact, back off until you feel okay, said Dr. Brightman. If the swelling seems excessive, try an ice pack for some relief. Next time you have sex, consider using a vaginal lubricant or extra virgin coconut oil to create extra wetness in the vagina for a prolonged sex session. For chafing, Aquaphor or a similar product can help to soothe affected areas, said Dr. Ross.

Penile Risks

People with penises can also experience a similar discomfort when they overdo it, pointed out Dr. Ross. "The penis can experience soreness, swelling, and chafing, and [a man may have] difficulty urinating."

Speaking of penises, bigger isn't always better—especially if you're having a lot of sex. While a thicker penis can make your partner feel more full, being overly stretched can be painful and uncomfortable, and it might even cause vaginal or anal tears.

What Are the Side Effects?

The more sex you have, the greater the risk of bladder and vaginal infections. This is due to disruption to the natural pH balance of the vagina, explained Dr. Ross, when bacteria from the vagina and anus find their way into the bladder. To help prevent this, get into the habit of emptying your bladder after having sexual penetration with your partner.

In some cases, the side effect of having a lot of sex might call for medical attention. If you have any abnormal discharge, unusual or persistent bleeding, evidence of tearing, pain with urination, or persistent vulvar pain, get it checked out by a healthcare professional.

But if the only thing all that sex has left you with is a feeling of satisfaction (and perhaps a little fatigue), there's no reason why you can't keep going.

A Happy Ending

"As long as there is proper lubrication and consensual breaks in between going under the sheets, you're not in any danger," said Dr. Ross. "Communication is vital in a relationship—especially during intimacy. Being honest and comfortable with your partner ensures a healthy and satisfying sexual relationship."

Listen to your body at all times, added Dr. Brightman. If something doesn't feel good—whether it's the first time you've had sex for a week or your third round in 24 hours—stop and discuss it with your partner. In fact, having an open discussion with your partner about sex has health benefits.

And if you feel like you're overdoing it, give your genitals a rest by taking a break for a day or two. There is no shame in taking as long as you need until you feel like you are ready to give sex another go.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles