Growing older is a natural and exciting part of life. Starting in our 30s, changes in location, relationship status, and career advancement determine how we spend our time and manage our days. However, after hitting 30, these external priorities can start to take precedence over our own mental, physical, and sexual health. On top of everyday stressors, not giving your body and health enough TLC can compound stress and cause you to put sex on the back-burner.
Sex Gets Better with Age
Sex isn’t just a twenty-something-year-old’s game. In fact, not only does sex have a more profound effect on your health later in life, it often gets better with age! Whereas men’s sex drives tend to slowly decrease with age, women experience a surge in sexual drive between the ages of 27-45. But it doesn’t stop there. While it might not feel like exactly the same sex you had in your twenties, sex can and should continue for women even beyond menopausal age. In one particular study of men and women ages 50-80, 76% of respondents agreed that sex is an important part of relationships at any age, yet just 17% said they feel comfortable talking about their sexual health with a doctor.
The benefits sex has on your health and relationship are not timestamped; they continue all throughout your life. That’s why this year for Sexual Health Awareness month, we decided to share the reasons why you should have more sex in your 30s, 40s, and beyond!
What’s slowing you down?
Our 30s, 40s, and 50s bring so much change to our social lives and our bodies. In addition to external factors, there are a few things that typically happen to our bodies as we enter perimenopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal stages that can affect not only our sexual drives but the way we respond to touch. The same is true for our partners as well. Here are some common things you might experience in relation to sex as your body, and the body of your partner, ages.
- Less estrogen can lead to vaginal dryness and thinner vaginal lining, which may make intercourse uncomfortable or painful
- Can be less easily aroused, and may be less sensitive which can result in decreased interest in sex
- Thinner vaginal lining
- Delayed erection
- Less semen
- Shorter orgasm
Benefits of Sex as We Age
During a Women’s Health Conversation Convention presentation, Dr. Jennifer Berman, a sexual expert, urologist, and female sexual medicine specialist, traced most sexual problems back to one thing – stress. As she put it, “Stress is absolutely the biggest issue related to health, not only sexual health.”
Though stress is often one of the leading causes of why people don’t have more sex, sex can actually work “backwards” to alleviate the symptoms and causes of stress. Here are some of the benefits of having more sex as you age:
- Sleep better: Stress and pains can keep you up all night worrying. A bad night of sleep starts a vicious cycle of more exhaustion, less energy to check off those to-dos, and, thus, more stress and less sleep. When you have sex, your body releases oxytocin while decreasing the production of a stress hormone cortisol. This can reduce pain levels and leave your body in a relaxed state, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
- Better intimacy: Relationship stress can place a huge strain on your overall health and stress levels. Though it’s just one piece of the puzzle, having sex can increase feelings or connectedness and intimacy with your partner.
- Improved bladder control: Incontinence affects about 30% of women at some point in their lives. Having sex helps to build the strength of your pelvic floor to help control your bladder.
- Boost your immune system: Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that college students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of a certain antibody compared to students who had sex less often. What does this mean? Fewer sick days that can result from increased stress levels.
- Squeeze in some exercise time: Exercise is one of the most important keys in your fitness over 40 plans. While exercise can sometimes feel like a chore, sex can be one of the most enjoyable ways to get your heart rate up and rush in some extra endorphins! According to WebMD, you can burn about 85 to 100 calories with 30 minutes of sex!
- Have better sex: Surveys have shown that more women tend to feel more satisfied after sex as they age. While you may not have sex as often as you used to, it really is a matter of quality over quantity. The more you get to know your body and your preferences, the more confident you will find yourself communicating that with your partner and having more satisfying sex. In fact, in one study of women ages 40 and up, 67% of participants reported that had an orgasm “most of the time” during sex in comparison to the younger participants.
- More sex in the future: An object in motion stays in motion. Women who have frequent genital and clitoral stimulation often have better self-lubrication to overcome sexual dryness and painful sex. Not only that, experimentation with what feels good will help you to feel more comfortable and confident for future sexual encounters.
Most of the hurdles to sex can be overcome by communicating with your partner and experimenting to find what feels good and what doesn’t feel good anymore. Instead of focusing on the “end goal”, embrace that your body is yours to experiment with and to treat with good feelings.
With that said, the ball is in your court! It is completely normal and okay to not experience the same drive you once had to have sex. Go at your own pace, and don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor to keep your sexual health on your radar. No matter how it manifests, self-love should be at the center of your motivation, no matter your age.