Sure, you’ve heard about the waning libido and vaginal dryness that can put a big damper on sex as you age. But it’s not all doom and gloom. While change is inevitable, experts agree there are plenty of ways sex gets better as you grow older.
Here’s what you need to know to navigate the changes you might experience.
1. Sex is more satisfying.
Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson: According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, a whopping two-thirds of women were satisfied with their sex lives—including women as old as 80. Even better, 67% of older women say they have orgasms “most of the time” or “always” during sex, leading the University of California, San Diego researchers to conclude sex really does get better with age. “Not only were the oldest women in this study the most satisfied overall, those who were recently sexually active experienced orgasm satisfaction rates similar to the youngest participants,” said study coauthor Susan Trompeter, MD.
Alice Goodwin in Interviu December 2014
2. Your partner knows what he’s doing.
Experience goes a long way when it comes to better sex, and this is where women in their 40s and beyond have a major advantage, says Lauren Streicher, MD, a gynecologist in Chicago and author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health and Your Best Sex Ever. “Everyone has this idea that sex is best when you’re in your 20s, but it’s simply not true,” she says. “When you’re young, you’re likely having sex with 20-something guys who are totally clueless. Later on in life, everyone’s more experienced.”
3. Pressure to look “hot” may be messing with your head.
While 50 may feel like the new 30, society’s expectations that women should look younger and younger with every passing birthday puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on us, says Streicher. “This pressure to be more attractive and look a certain way makes it tougher to feel joyful during sex,” she says. Recalibrate your expectations about what your body should look like, and there’s a better chance you’ll be more in the moment while you’re getting busy, which helps make everything hotter.
4. Years of sex with the same partner boost happiness.
In addition to containing sperm, semen is also filled with oxytocin and serotonin—two “feel good” hormones that make a beeline for the brain, says Stephanie McClellan, MD, a gynecologist in Newport Beach, CA. “Multiple studies have shown that women who have been exposed to the same semen on a regular basis actually have lower levels of depression and higher levels of joy and happiness,” McClellan says.
5. A new partner can throw everything off.
The vagina is an entry point from the outside to the internal world. It’s also closely linked to your immune system, McClellan says. “If you’ve had the same partner for many years and then suddenly switch partners, your vagina may send out an immune alert that this new semen is foreign,” she says. The result may be irritation or even pain during intercourse.
6. A weak pelvic floor can ruin everything.
Estrogen levels naturally drop as you age. This not only affects your sex drive and vaginal moisture, but it also weakens the tone of the pelvic floor muscles, reducing sexual sensation, says Karly Treacy, a yoga teacher who specializes in pelvic floor health. Translation: You’ll find it tougher to have an orgasm. But before you start doing your Kegels, hear this: There’s a good chance you’ve been doing them all wrong. “The correct action has nothing to do with stopping the flow of urine,” Treacy says. “Instead, you want to recruit the muscles of the pelvic floor in a way that draws them together and then lifts them to create strength.” Here’s how: Imagine the muscles between your two “sit bones” (the bony points in each butt cheek). As you exhale, draw those muscles together as if they were elevator doors closing. Then, when the doors are closed, lift the elevator up. “Do a total of 10 breaths, twice a day for 3 weeks,” Treacy advises.
7. Insomnia can seriously hurt your sex life.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the prevalence of sleep disorders tends to increase with age. And not surprisingly, fatigue is a big libido killer, says Steven A. Rabin, MD, a gynecologist in Los Angeles. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule and exposing yourself to natural light during the day are two of these 11 ways to sleep better tonight.
8. Quickies may not be as fun as they used to be.
Sad, but true: Those super-quick romps may lose their appeal because as women age, it takes longer to become aroused, lubricated, and relaxed enough to really enjoy sex, Rabin says. “When you and your partner understand this, you can adjust your time together and give things a chance to heat up.”
9. You may need your doctor’s help.
Oftentimes, changes that are making your sex life tank are due to medical conditions that can be treated easily (vaginal dryness is a great example of this). So it’s important to speak with your doctor honestly, Streicher says. “There are so many ways your doctor can help you have more enjoyable sex, but your health care providers need to know what’s going on to help you problem-solve,” she says. Nothing is too taboo to discuss, so bring up what’s on your mind, like pain during sex—even if it feels a little embarassing.
10. You may get more action than ever before.
So much for the idea that 20-somethings are the “girls gone wild”: Research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that women in their 30s and early 40s are significantly more sexual than younger women. In fact, women ages 27 through 45 not only reported having more sexual fantasies than women ages 18 to 26, but also said they have more sex.