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Does sex get better with age?

Health Hub logoHealth Hub 29/08/2014
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Good sex is the preserve of feisty 20-year-olds with great bodies and rocket-fuelled sex drives. At least, that’s what most people think.

But a new survey begs to differ. According to a US poll of over 2,000 men and women, sex really does get better with age - and that’s particularly true for men. The study found that men are the most confident in bed between the ages of 50 and 69, while women experience their peak of sexual confidence between 18 and 29.

So as men get older, their confidence in the bedroom increases, making sex more fun, less stressful and more satisfying. Here are a few more reasons why your sex life will only get better.

Men worry less

You may worry a bit about the odd grey hair or the laughter lines around your eyes (nothing’s that funny, eh?) but you worry far less about getting older than your partner does.

According to the poll, only 34 percent of men are worried about the physical signs of ageing - compared to 56 percent of women.

The poll also found that the word most associated with men and grey hair was “distinguished”, while with women it’s “old”.

Why is any of this good for your sex life past 30? For a start, it means men are less self-conscious in bed, leaving them freer to enjoy the experience. As we age we no longer feel the need to show our 'best side' or hide wobbly bits. We’re much more likely to think: take me how I am.

The other upside to all this is that our partners spend a lot of time and effort warding off the ravages of age. From a purely selfish perspective, many 35- or 40-year-old women have never looked so good. Some research even suggests that the ‘cougar’ phenomenon is driven by a subconscious confusion: young men are primed by evolution to go for long, luscious locks, clear skin and sparkling eyes, the genetic signals of youth. All of which are increasingly found on older women.

Women get sexier

So our partners are looking great, and they’re also more into sex. That’s really not surprising. According to The New Hite Report (2000), older women are more likely to enjoy more multiple orgasms than younger women. The Pennell study of 2001 found that women's sexual arousal or capacity to orgasm actually increases with age.

The National Over-45s Sex Survey carried out by Health Plus magazine found that older women are also more adventurous - with 89 percent admitting they like to vary positions and locations, including the garden. A majority said that sex was better in their 40s than it had been in their 20s.

This all suggests that women prefer sex when they get older, but what about men? There’s a simple 'it takes two to tango' argument here. If older women are having all that wild sex, their partners must be too. And let’s admit it, if your wife or girlfriend is enjoying the experience you’re more likely to enjoy it as well. Her satisfaction only adds to your lust.

It’s also true that as we age more of the sex we have is within the bounds of secure, long-term relationships. That might sound boring compared to the one-night stands of youth, but research suggest the most satisfying sex - for both parties - happens within marriage or long-term partnerships.

As relationship counsellor and sex expert Julia Coles said: “The idea that wild sex means sex with a stranger is a myth. The most important element of a fulfilling sex life is trust.”

The prime ages for sex

As you leave your 20s behind sex might get slower, more sensual and less wham, bam, thank you ma'am. That’s a good thing.

Sex therapist David Schnarch talks about the difference between genital prime and sexual prime. For men, the genital prime is in our late teens or early 20s. We get aroused in seconds and can have sex three times a night. We’re in our physical prime.

Unfortunately, our minds are not yet primed for the best sex. We might be too impulsive, too insecure or simply not experienced or confident enough. Schnarch says that many men reach their sexual prime much later, and sometimes not until middle age.

And as you hit your 30s and beyond, you know what you like and you’re not afraid to ask for it.

You’re also better at sex physically, even if arousal takes longer and the three-times-a-night sessions are a distant memory. You’ll be less prone to 'hair trigger' problems, for a start, and in your 30s you bring the perfect combination of stamina and experience to your sex life.

If you’re 40 or 50, there’s good news too. While 20-somethings report the highest rates of sexual activity, according to Harvard Medical School research, men in their 40s and 50s report equally high rates of sexual satisfaction. In other words, sex is as much fun when you’re 50 as it is when you’re 20.

So the good news for your sex life is that, whether it’s great, OK, or in need of a jump start, the best is probably yet to come.

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