Think the party is over when you turn 30? Think again.
In 1953, Alfred Kinsey proposed the theory that women reach a sexual peak in their early-to-mid thirties. Women at this age reported having the most frequent orgasms, so he believed they had a stronger sex drive due to changes in hormone levels. Later research on this claim has been inconclusive. One recent study reported that women in the 30-44 age group have orgasms only 26% of the time. However another study found that compared to both older and younger women, women ages 27-45 reported having the most daily thoughts about sex, the highest frequency of sexual intercourse and the most willingness to engage in sexual intercourse.
Most women reach a hormonal peak during their mid-to-late twenties, but there is no evidence to prove that there is a clear sexual peak at any specific age. Many have dismissed it as myth, leading a lot of people to believe that the best sex happens before 30 and it’s all down hill from there. However, some women still report that they feel a spike in their sexuality after 30.
“I’d kind of hate if my sex life were only ever as it was in my twenties,” said Nicole, 40, married. “We’re wrong to fetishize that decade for women.”
Sexual desire and response are complex and change a lot over time based on a variety of factors, so there are plenty of reasons whywomen might feel like they’ve reached their sexual peak in or around their thirties.
A woman’s hormone levels change during her thirties.
Shifts in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels can all contribute to women’s sexual desire and enjoyment. Women’s estrogen levels reach a high point during the mid-to-late twenties so the body responds most quickly to arousal at this time.
As estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, so does a woman’s chance of getting pregnant.Women’s fertilitydecreases 3-to-5 percent per year after age 30. Some researchers believe there may be a connection between this decrease and an increasein sexual desires and behavior: sort of an “evolutionary adaptation” to help make the most of dwindling fertility.
Testosterone levels decrease in both men and women as they get older, but this happens more slowly in women. This may explain why some women in their thirties report that their sexual desire appears to be greater than male partners of the same age.
Women over 30 are less likely to use hormonal birth control.
Many forms of birth control can have a negative effect on libido. Even though thefreedom gained from hormonal contraception can be sexually liberating, it can also unnaturally level a woman’s hormones and slow her sex drive. Obviously women under 30 aren’t the only ones using contraceptives, but they’re more likely to be. A women over 30 is also less likely to worry about an unplanned pregnancy because she probably has the resources needed to raise a child.
Women over 30 are less likely to use recreational drugs.
Certain recreational drugs can have a negative effect on sexual desire and activity. Although ecstasy is considered an “aphrodisiac” drug, the after-effects include the depression of normal body functions. Marijuana also has a depressant effect on the body. Opiates are linked to low sexual desire and inability to orgasm, while amphetamines can cause sexual dysfunction.
Statistics show that drug abuse rates rise with age, peak between age 18-20, and then steadily decrease after that. (For example, in 2001, 51% of all recreational drug users were age 12 to 25.)
Women under 30 have lower self-esteem and poorer body image.
Research shows that body image plays an important role in women’s sexual satisfaction. Discontentment with one’s appearance has a negative effect on sexual enjoyment, which in turn decreases future sexual desire. Women under 30 are most at risk for dissatisfaction with their bodies, making them more likely to experience depression, anxiety and low self-esteem than women over 30.
“I enjoy sex more the older I get,” said Jenny, 39, in a long-term relationship. “I have a better understanding of body issues – mostly that they are my issues, not his.”
Women over 30 are typically more confident in bed.
In addition to body image and physical self-esteem, maturity and general self-confidence typically come with age as well. This no doubt translates to more confidence in bed– including the ability to ask for what she wants and not settle for less – and, in turn, more sexual satisfaction.
“I would say I hit my sexual stride [in my thirties],” said Mary, 32 single. “Most of my twenties, I was in a long-term relationship. When I turned 30 we went our separate ways and I feel like my confidence really became apparent.”
“I absolutely feel much more confident, less inhibited, less worried than I ever did in my twenties,” said Andrea, 38, married. “I know exactly what I want and I’m not afraid to go after it. I think I settled for ‘less than’ in so many ways when I was younger. Never again.”
The older a woman gets, the more sexual experience she gains.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, most young people have had sex by age 17 and the CDC reports that women between 25 and 44 have slept with a median of four men. The more experienced a woman is, the more likely she is to be comfortable during and enjoy sex. Also, more sexual experience translates into better understanding of her body and knowledge of what she enjoys and what feels good. They’ve also often learned how to please their partners better, resulting in a greater sexual experience for both parties.
“I learn more with – and from – long term partners,” said Jenny, 39, in a long-term relationship. “I’ve done a lot and tried a lot and know what I like.”
“I can say there is a vast difference when I have had sex with women well into their thirties and up, rather than women in their twenties,” said Mtume, 35, single. “More awareness of the other, more awareness of what they like and how to get it.”
Older women are unapologetic about being sexual.
“My thirties were way better than my twenties,” said Janet, 43, married. “The older I get, the less fucks I have to give about what other people think is appropriate.”
Women are susceptible to slut-shaming and insecurity at any age, but the older a woman gets the more likely she is to shed preconceived notions about sex. They’re more likely to initiate sex, seek out new partners, and walk away from relationships that aren’t working.
“I’ve had sex with women of many different ages,” said Steve, 32, single. “I find sex with women over 30 to be fantastic. Their experience and attitude is much more involved in the act.”
Women have better lives in general during (and after) their thirties.
Stress and anxiety can both be major hindrances to a healthy and happy sex life. A woman’s twenties can be challenging, but the older she gets the more likely she is to have resolved the issues of her youth.
“I wish I could stay in my thirties forever… way better than my twenties,” said Mary, 32, single. “You’re no longer trying to prove anything to anyone.I feel like you truly realize that the only person that matters is you. If you fall on your face no one cares and you don’t care who sees it.”
Typically women in their thirties and up have more professional and financial stability than younger women. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , in 2012 weekly earnings for full-time female workers were highest for women age 35 to 64 compared and lowest for young women age 16 to 24.
“I’m happier now than in my twenties in all aspects of my life,” said Rosann, 30, married. “Each decade of age is a whole new view on life and it affects every part of you, including sexuality.”
The truth is… a woman’s “sexual peak” can occur at any time in her life.
“It was in my forties that I grew into myself and began to stop caring about what other people thought,” said Therese , married. “And because of that, sex got a lot more interesting and fun.”
It’s almost impossible to consider any particular time period a sexual prime or peak. However, it is safe to answer the question “is the party over when you hit 30?” with a resounding no.
“I can say with confidence: no, it’s not over unless you want it to be,” said Nicole, 40, married. “It’s a bit of a use-or-lose situation though.”
A woman’s sexual experiences and feelings can vary greatly and there are so many factors at work aside from age. Changes in health, environment, relationship status, etc. can all have an impact. If a woman is leading a happy, balanced and fulfilling life then she is more likely to have a satisfying and dynamic sex life as well. Instead of focusing on whether or not she’s in (or past) her prime, there are ways to help bolster a woman’s sexuality at any age.
- Stayed tuned into your body. Listen to what your body is telling you. The healthier you are – physically and mentally – the greater your ability to have good sex.
- Decide what you like. Experiment with yourself and others. Figure out what feels right and what doesn’t.
- Learn to love yourself. Accept yourself – flaws and all – and that confidence will be apparent to others.
- Be honest and communicative. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and talk to your partner/s about what you need.
- Know what you want and go after it. Don’t ever settle for less than you deserve.
- Remember that sex drive fluctuates. Don’t stress or give up if you hit a “down cycle.”
- Don’t apologize for being sexual. Don’t let other people’s preconceived notions or judgments stop you from doing what makes you happy.