Having good sex throughout our life-yes, at any age- is possible. Sex and sexuality are part of who we are, but we will notice changes over the course of our lifetime. Sex we have in our 20s will look a lot different from the sex we have in our 40s, 60s, and beyond.
Maybe you’ve experienced every stage, or maybe you need a glimpse of what’s to come so you can be prepared. Keep reading to see what sexuality looks like as we age.
Sex in our 20s
Sex in our early 20s is all about self-exploration and self-discovery. Our libido is at its highest, and we take full advantage of that. It is a time to experiment and find what turns us on and what turns us off. There is a lot of learning and unlearning happening in our 20s because a lot of what we know about sex stems from pornography and the media. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age Americans lose their virginity is 17 years old, so that means there are a lot of twentysomethings trying to find their sexual footing.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves in our 20s. Body image, lack of experience, and performance anxiety may add up to a less than pleasurable experience in the bedroom, in the car, or anywhere because one thing is for sure — we are almost always ready for a sexual encounter and sexual spontaneity when we are in our 20s. However, the way we view ourselves may put us out of the mood. A survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation found that one in five adults (20%) said their sex life has been negatively affected by their body image, and 15% of them said their relationship with a partner or spouse had been negatively affected because of their body image.
Sex in our 30s 40s
Sex in our 30s and 40s is great. We have a better understanding of our bodies, and our sexual preferences, and we feel more confident with who we are. We are also not afraid to speak up about what we like and what we want from our partners. However, our hormones take a hit during this decade. For men, testosterone begins to decrease, affecting performance and libido. For women, pregnancy, post-partum, and perimenopause affects the body, hormones, and may disrupt sexual function, leading to a lower libido.
During perimenopause, fluctuating hormones may decrease sexual desire and affect how sex feels physically. Estrogen levels decrease, and the natural moisturization found in the vagina also decreases leading to discomfort and pain during intimacy. Daily vaginal and vulvar moisturizing will help to combat this.
Sex in our 60s and beyond
It is true that our sexual function declines as we reach later adulthood. Medications and hormones will affect our libido. Research suggests up to half of sexually active older women report low sexual desire and problems related to genitourinary syndrome (vulvovaginal atrophy) are the most common. Having said that, having healthy sex in our 60s and beyond is possible. 65% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 80 report still being interested in or are still sexually active. Ageism makes us believe that sexuality stops at a certain age, but sex does not have to stop, and a little creativity can make sex exciting again.
Contrary to popular belief, sex does not strictly encompass penetration. After menopause, estrogen levels are low, the tissues of the vulva and vagina are thinner, and become less lubricated during arousal and sex. This can make penetrative sex painful. For most women, a vaginal moisturizer will provide enough lubrication to allow intimacy to feel pleasurable. For other women, penetration might be out of the question and that is okay! A study published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that nearly 37 percent of American women required clitoral stimulation to experience orgasm. Sex later in life can be just as good, if not better than it was in our 20s and 30s.
Ways To Maintain Our Sex Life
No one is a mind reader. When sexual function problems arise shame, guilt, and even resentment can build up and create bigger problems. Good communication is the foundation for any healthy relationship and establishing open dialogue around sex will help build a closer bond and strengthen trust.
- Be Open To Changing The Definition Of Sex
Forget “intercourse” and think more about “outercourse”! If we only focus on penetration, we forget about all the other ways we can enjoy intimacy with our partner. Think oral sex, mutual masturbation, or an erotic massage.
- Practice A Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is where it starts. Healthy sex life and sexual function are dependent on a healthy cardiovascular system and good overall health so be mindful when it comes to eating right and exercising regularly. Think about limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep every night.
- Make Sex Fun
Don’t be afraid to spice things up. Be adventurous, be creative, and make sex sexy again. Try introducing new positions, including sex toys, and try experimenting with places outside of the bedroom.