• “They tend to have more education about sex and how their bodies function and they’re more able to set boundaries and say no to things they don’t want." (AAP)Source: AAP
With age comes wisdom and perhaps, even sexual confidence.
By
Jo Hartley

6 Mar 2017 - 3:24 PM  UPDATED 6 Mar 2017 - 3:25 PM

During her twenties, Lynn Anderton had an average sex life. Her husband wasn’t proactive in demonstrating techniques and her sexual confidence was low. But all that changed in her thirties.

“I started reading more about sex from magazines and became more assertive in initiating it and knowing what I wanted,” Anderton tells SBS.

“I learnt about oral sex techniques and different positions, which I was previously oblivious to, and became more confident in my own skin and in putting my knowledge into action.”

At the age of 55, Anderton is now divorced. However, she’s felt confident in entering into new intimate relationships because of how she took control of her sex life during her thirties.

Participants revealed that being in a loving, long-term relationship enabled them to express themselves more freely in a physical sense. They were also less conscious of their body shape.

Anderton’s story is not uncommon.  

Many women enter a new age of sexual confidence and discovery during their thirties, and there are a number of factors that drive this.

In a UK study commissioned by Singles247.com, findings showed that women reach a peak of sexual confidence at the age of 31. 

Participants revealed that being in a loving, long-term relationship enabled them to express themselves more freely in a physical sense. They were also less conscious of their body shape.

This was in comparison to when they felt at their lowest in terms of sexual confidence at the earlier age of 25. This low was attributed to peer pressure and body image issues.

Similarly, a study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that women in their early 30’s to early 40’s thought about sex more, had sex more often and were more open to flings.

However, in this instance, the researchers noted that these surges in sexual interest could be linked to women’s biological clocks. 

One such reason is because we’re starting to understand women’s sexual desires more.

Isiah McKimmie is a relationship therapist and sexologist. She says that, while she’s not certain that sex drives peak for women in their 30’s, there are certainly notable reasons why it may appear that way.

One such reason is because we’re starting to understand women’s sexual desires more.

“In recent years, we’re beginning to understand women’s sexual desire as responsive rather than spontaneous as we’ve previously expected it to be,” she says. 

“This means that instead of seeing desire as something that will spontaneously arise, we see it as something that responds to stimuli.”

Subsequently, women are giving themselves permission to explore and enjoy their sexual needs. Through doing this, they’re able to focus on learning to please themselves during sex, not just their partner.

“They tend to have more education about sex and how their bodies function and they’re more able to set boundaries and say no to things they don’t want,” explains McKimmie.

McKimmie adds that it also comes down to women wanting to break away from the stereotypes that they don’t enjoy sex, or only do it to please a partner.

“It’s more socially acceptable for women to have sex outside of relationships and be open about what they want in the bedroom,” she says.

“We also know that the more women enjoy sex and the less restricted they are by sexual shame, the more likely they are to have a higher drive.”

McKimmie reiterates the earlier point that there’s a strong link between body confidence and sex drive. Similarly, there’s a link between the type of relationship and sexual pleasure.

“Research has shown that women are less likely to orgasm on a one-night stand, than with someone they’ve previously had sex with,” says McKimmie.

“Certainly for couples that I work with in coaching, they find the more comfortable they are discussing sex with their partners, the more they enjoy having sex together.”

“It’s important to note that sex isn’t all downhill after a certain age, because we see that people enjoy sex into their sixties, seventies and even eighties."

Unfortunately, it’s not quite so clear-cut for other cultures. 

“Studying people from diverse populations is especially difficult around sexuality, as it tends to be a rather specialist area,” says McKimmie.

“But, we do know that low sexual literacy in many cultures leads to higher rates of sexual dysfunction in women, such as pain during sex and difficulty reaching orgasm, and lower enjoyment.”

Overall, McKimmie is cautious to pinpoint sexual ‘peaks’ in women as she says that sexual desire, quality and quantity will fluctuate throughout our lives.

“It’s important to note that sex isn’t all downhill after a certain age, because we see that people enjoy sex into their sixties, seventies and even eighties,” she says.

“The key thing is in staying open-minded and flexible with what you enjoy.”

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