CultureHealingMarriage 3 minutes to read

In the world of relationships, myths and misconceptions often circulate, influencing perspectives and creating potentially harmful expectations. One such myth revolves around the idea that men need sex every 72 hours for their physical and emotional well-being. 

Where does this myth come from? What are the potential implications and insidious messages it sends to individuals in various stages of recovery and relationships?

The origin of this myth is a little murky, but stems from a physiological perspective suggesting that men go through a cycle of regenerating semen or seminal fluid approximately every 72 hours. While there may be a biological basis to this cycle, whether this should translate into a rigid expectation for sexual activity in a relationship is debatable. It poses the question: “If you don’t have sex, will you die?” 

While there may be truth to this physiological pattern for men, assuming that this cycle justifies the frequency of sexual activity or determines an expectation for your partner can be dangerous and unrealistic for the relationship. More importantly, any couple engaged in the recovery process should learn the value of emotional connection; emotional intimacy must precede physical intimacy. 

This myth can easily set up couples for disappointment, creating unrealistic expectations based on a misguided cultural narrative. Keep in mind, other external factors, such as arguments, stress, and life events, can also significantly impact a couple’s sexual frequency. 

For many women, there is potential harm in viewing sex as an obligation, especially when it becomes a routine without considering the emotional and physical well-being of both spouses. 

…believing the obligation-sex message makes women more vulnerable to sexual pain, but if they believe this message, they’re also likely to force themselves to muscle through. Forcing themselves to have frequent, painful sex makes treatment so much more difficult because it strengthens the association between sex and pain.*

It’s best if couples can openly communicate their sexual expectations, desires, and emotional needs. At times, non-sexual touch, such as a back rub, can help to reinforce the idea that intimacy extends beyond the physical act of sex. A perspective focused on quality over quantity will benefit the health of the relationship.

In some ways, this myth can subtly communicate that if couples don’t meet the 72-hour standard, there is something inherently wrong with them. This is not true. Couples who can talk about their desires and determine what is best for them and their relationship will not be impacted by this prescribed myth. 

God designed sex to be a mutually satisfying experience for both spouses, not just for one spouse. So when couples can talk about their sexual expectations, creating a mindset that is honest and vulnerable, it can lead to a greater contentment in the relationship.

Debunking the “men need sex every 72 hours” myth requires a nuanced understanding of the physiological aspects while acknowledging the diverse emotional and relational dynamics that are unique to each relationship. 

Let’s get rid of the myth and work toward open communication, compromise, and a mutual understanding of how sex can be an amazing byproduct of a healthy relationship. 

This blog post is based on podcast episode 214 – Myth Busters: Sex Every 72 Hours, with Trevor Winsor, Nick Stumbo, and Robert Vander Meer. Check out the full episode here.

*Sheila Wray Gregoire, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, and Joanna Sawatsky, The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies We’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2021), 189.

The views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not reflect an official position of Pure Desire Ministries, except where expressly stated.

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Pure Desire Team

This blog post contains content from a recent Pure Desire Podcast episode. To listen to the full episode, use the link provided. Pure Desire is committed to providing information, encouragement, and hope for those on the recovery and healing journey.

1 Comment

  1. Brandt

    I don’t think it’s helpful to emphasize the idea that any man thinks he will “die” not having sex. No one believes that. Having an intense and painful longing for sexual connection, yes. But not die. What will die when there is a lack of sex in Marriage and the partner is rejected over and over again…is intimacy and desire and connection. Feeling unwanted and unloved and continually rejected is what will kill a marriage. You should talk about that sometime.

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