The average adult has sex 54 times a year (once a week, basically, with a few extras thrown in), according to a study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2017. If your personal average is a lot higher, you might be wondering, how much sex is too much-and what are the repercussions of having too much sex, anyway?
Let us put your mind at ease, with help from 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. "The definition of frequent sex is variable and if it feels good and doesn't hurt, then sex at any frequency is okay," Dr. Brightman tells Health. In other words, get your freak on to your heart's content as long as you're not experiencing any adverse effects.
However, it does help to know some signs that you should maybe give your body some respite from sex—your own personal "too much" warnings, if you like.
The main physical hazard of having a lot of sex is excessive swelling of the vagina and labia, Sherry A. Ross, ob-gyn and women's health expert in Santa Monica, California and author of she-ology and she-ology. the she-quel, tells 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," she explains.
A long sex session can also cause the natural lubrication of the vagina to dry up, which can lead to friction and pain. "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," Dr. Ross says. She points out that vaginal dryness can also occur in menopausal women, 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, Dr. Brightman says. If the swelling seems excessive, try an ice pack for some relief. Next time you do it, 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, Dr. Ross says.
Men can also experience similar discomfort when they overdo it, Dr. Ross points out. "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 makes the vagina feel more full, being overly stretched can be painful and uncomfortable, and it might even cause vaginal tears.
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, Dr. Ross explains, 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 or tearing, pain with urination, or persistent vulvar pain, get it checked out by your health care provider.
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. "As long as there is proper lubrication and consensual breaks in between going under the sheets, you're not in any danger," Dr. Ross says. "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, Dr. Brightman adds. 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. And if you feel like you're overdoing it, take a break for a day or two.