When it comes to sexual health, happiness is subjective, according to a new study.
A researcher from the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that individuals who have sex frequently are generally happier than those who don't. However, the research also revealed that "keeping up with the Joneses" is important, especially when it comes to intimacy.
"There's an overall increase in sense of well-being that comes with engaging in sex more frequently, but there's also this relative aspect to it," said Tim Wadsworth, a sociology professor at the university. "Having more sex makes us happy, but thinking that we are having more sex than other people makes us even happier."
Wadsworth analyzed national survey data on nearly 15,400 people for his findings, which were published in Social Indicators Research. Specifically, he found that individuals who reported having sex at least two to three times a month were 33 percent more likely to report a higher level of happiness than those who reported having no sex during the previous 12 months. Additionally, respondents who had sex once a week were 44 percent happier than those who did not have sex at all in the past year.
However, even though many people do not openly discuss how often they have sex, Wadsworth noted that it is commonly discussed in magazines and among peer groups.
"There is plenty of evidence that information concerning normative sexual behavior is learned through discussions within peer groups and friendship networks. I can't think of a better explanation for why how much sex other people are having would influence a person's happiness," said Wadsworth.
According to The Kinsey Institute, frequency of sex differs depending on age and relationship status. For instance, 37 percent of married people between the ages of 25 and 29 report having sex two to three times per week, while only 4.1 percent of single individuals in the same age group have sex as often.