Is too much (or too little) sex a bad thing?


We often hear about relationships hanging on by a thread because of too little intimacy.  In fact, it was stated in a New York Times article that “15 percent of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months”, according to Denise A. Donnelly an associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University.  Finding a good sex routine in a partnership, especially a long term one can be tricky as each individual has their own wants and needs. Work, children, emotional wounds, sleep schedules, illness and distance can get in the way of creating intimate moments. 

However, what if we flipped this notion around and looked at the lives of those who enjoy sex at high frequency.  That’s right, there are some folks who have sex every day and sometimes twice a day, 7 days a week about 281 days a year (some skip while the woman is menstruating). 

There are all types of books and blogs out there that give testimony to how their relationship’s have change after committing to daily intimacy.  There’s Brittany Gibbons who published an article in Good Housekeeping. She shares that she committed to daily sex for a year to reconnect with her body and her husband after having 3 kids.  I have a friend who did something similar with her husband.  Same formula, mom of 3 kids who wanted to foster intimacy with her husband.  However, very regular sex is not just reserved for those who are married with kids wanting reconnection.  Individuals and couples who don’t have to sneak to find moments of privacy also regularly get it on.  A high sex drive + a partner (or partners) to match desires = lots of activity.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective sex, like most things should be enjoyed with balance in mind.  However when it comes to men vs. women there are some distinct differences. 

I’ll give the back story….In TCM we have something called the Tian Gui.  Allow me to translate some terms to make it plain and simple.  

Tian Gui is like puberty.  It’s the mark of maturity that says now a woman can conceive and a man can fertilize. So, in terms of physical structures we have eggs in women and sperm in men.  Sperm and eggs can also be considered to correlate to the essence of vitality- called Jing. Jing is our original source of energy. 

When the sperm is frequently (like very frequently) expelled, it can exhaust the essence. (No, a man really doesn’t even really have to have a partner for this to happen.)  Some of the signs of this exhaustion may look like fatigue, challenges with focus, low back pain, hair loss and and an off metabolism to name a few.  You may be wondering how frequent is too frequent and it really depends on the person’s entire make up. It’s best to look for signs and consider your overall picture of wellness.

What about women?  Well sex, according to TCM is considered to be a good outlet for those who have an active libido.  Moreover, the absence of sex can cause some Qi stagnation or built up tension.

A woman can’t overspend her essence in the same way a man can because she doesn’t dispel her eggs with each orgasm or sexual encounter.  However, her essence is exhausted with childbirth and menstruation.  

You may wonder why this topic has come up? I recently realized that patients at either end of the spectrum usually come in with specific wellness goals but we rarely talk about their sex life.  Not that I need to know all of their business but I do feel it would help for them to personally recognize how their sex life factors into health and wellness.

Jing and essence depletion can impact fertility and overall vitality. Long term qi stagnation can impact the menstrual cycle and sleep.

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, Jing typically can’t be restored but there are a few foods that can help support it.

Some Jing/essence supportive foods include black sesame seeds, bone broth, kidney beans, royal jelly and sea vegetables.

Foods that help move stagnation are orange peel, foods that are bitter like lettuce and dark leafy greens as well as sour foods.

At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. Always remember that everything you do, say, eat and feel is relevant to the big picture of your wellness!

Well I sure hope this has been insightful for you.

Until next time,