Sex Q&A

Sex Question Friday: How Much Is Too Much When It Comes To Sex And Masturbation?

July 20, 2012 by Justin Lehmiller

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week, I’m answering two related questions that come up pretty regularly in my Human Sexuality course:

How much sex is too much sex?

How much is too much masturbation?

One of people’s biggest concerns about sexual behavior is that they are either doing it too much or too little. Such concerns often arise when people see a magazine article or news story that reports how often the average person has sex or masturbates. If you see that you are above or below the reported average, it is easy to start thinking that there might be something wrong with you. However, as I have written in previous articles, comparing yourself to averages can be misleading and dangerous. Please keep in mind that averages do not tell the whole story, and “normal” represents a range of responses, not just a single number. So if you find that you are above or below some sexual average, there isn’t necessarily cause for alarm.

But is it ever possible to do it too much? Yes. However, defining “too much” is quite subjective—there is no specific number of sexual acts per day or week that would automatically categorize you as having a problem. In fact, as much as we hear about “sexual addiction” in the media, it is not currently an actual diagnosis in the DSM and its very existence has long been debated among psychiatrists and psychologists. That said, “excessive” sexual behavior certainly exists, but making this determination involves taking into account how your sexual activity is affecting your life and (if applicable) your partner’s life. If you are having so much sex or are spending so much time pursuing sex that it is negatively affecting your work, school, or relationship, there may be a problem. It may also be a problem if your sexual activity takes on a compulsive form (e.g., you pursue sex all the time, even when you aren’t feeling horny) or if you find that you consistently engage in risky, unsafe, or harmful behavior.

The take-home message from this is that as long as you aren’t experiencing any life or relationship problems stemming from your sexual activity, don’t get hung up on the notion that you might be doing it too little or too much. Chances are you’re probably well within the normal range and don’t have anything to worry about.

For previous editions of Sex Question Friday, click here. To send in a question for a future edition, click here.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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