Sex After 35
Manila, PHILIPPINES -- Between bites of a green salad at a posh Italian restaurant, Lonette used her fingers to count her lovers. “There was the young one, the teacher, the government official, the one who liked classical music, the ad man…” All in all, including her first husband, they numbered 14.
Fourteen makes sense for a woman who says that during a two-hour tryst, she can have as many as four orgasms. When her current boyfriend is in town, they have sex every day, sometimes twice. With a head full of flirtatious curls, come-hither eyes, and hips that slither on the dance floor, Lonette is a total babe. She obviously has a hyperactive sex life. She’s 56 years old.
If you’re surprised, we don’t blame you. Advertisements, media, and movies tell a different story, sell sexuality in terms of youth or men. When Calvin Klein decided to make denim sexy, he featured a 15-year-old Brooke Shields purring, “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” Cosmopolitan’s headlines read: ‘7 Ways to Make Him Ache for You’ and ‘The Breast Size Men Prefer’ (FYI: all breast sizes, as it turns out). When Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton starred in ‘As Good As It Gets’, critics were amazed at a romantic comedy that featured – gasp – old people?
But despite media portrayal, the truth is that women are capable of having their best sex after they hit 35.
In fact, sex in your twenties can often be stressful. Lonette described herself as a “shy, shy” 20-something wife for whom sex began to feel like a chore. It wasn’t adventurous. And it was always the missionary position. Carmen, a journalist, was “terrified of getting pregnant out of wedlock,” while real estate developer Patty married her childhood sweetheart when both were virgins. The lack of openness about sexuality in Filipino culture means that young couples are often misinformed, and the two were so clueless in bed that after four years of marriage, she’d still never had an orgasm.
“Early twenties are greenhorns,” dismisses Agnes Bueno, M.D., the consultant at St. Luke’s Human Sexuality Clinic. “Women, of course, are at their prime sexually when they’re 35.”
Dr. Bueno trained with Masters and Johnson in the US, the pair that first studied sexuality within a laboratory context. According to their studies, they found that a woman is physiologically more sexy (as in physically more capable of having better sex) in her thirties and forties, when she is more lubricated and more able to sustain multiple orgasms. Furthermore, a post-30-something woman has finally achieved a certain level of comfort with herself, says Dr. Bueno.
This was true for Lonette. “My personal sexual revolution came during my 30s,” she says. “I was dowdy when I was in my twenties. In my thirties I blossomed. I was coming out in my personality and confidence. I was getting compliments, come-ons, and I’d never had that before. You wake up. You look good.” Anna, a yoga instructor, says that she had “a lot of energy” when she was younger, but that as she matured as a person, her sex life matured, too. “You’re not that hung up about your body. The confidence comes from outside the bedroom, from achievements in your career.” Also, she adds that a younger woman is sometimes “afraid to say what they want,” so they “don’t get it. When you’re older, you’re more confident.”
“When you’re not satisfied with yourself, you need a man to tell you you’re beautiful,” she adds, “but when you are satisfied with yourself, you can tell yourself that you’re beautiful and it’s validating,” she says. In fact, once she entered her thirties, Anna felt so sure of herself and her sexuality that she set about trying to prove a point: that a woman could have sex with no strings attached. She calls the next few years her “crazy phase,” where she was juggling two or three fuck buddies at a time and had sex with around a dozen men over the course of a couple years. (In retrospect, although she had “too much fun” to regret the experience, she stresses that it’s not for everyone, and that sex with love is still her ideal.)
In her 20s, Patty dreaded sex so much that she prayed the novena every night until her husband went to sleep. “I hated it,” she says, of what was a painful, unloving experience. “Totally, totally, yuck.” Predictably, she separated, and took on a glamorous job in PR where she re-met her second husband, an old family friend, at a grand dinner party. She’d given up her young-mom outfit of jeans, loafers, and thick glasses in favor of a backless gown, long hair, and contacts – and not only did he not recognize her, but he asked her out the very next day. They eventually married, and as a more experienced man, he taught her how to enjoy sex, although after their first bedroom foray, he exclaimed that she had been about as responsive as a log.
While all women agree that gaining confidence is a wonderful aspect of sexuality, a maturing lifestyle also makes sex better.
Saddled with young children and a full-time job, Carmen remembers being “much too tired” to initiate sex in her thirties. But in her forties, she began getting “more comfortable with taking initiative” and was more relaxed because she had fewer responsibilities at home. And while most women moan about their aging bodies, Carmen says she is “more confident about my looks and my body because of regular workouts”.” Additionally, exercise has made her more flexible and more willing to try – and show off – new positions.
But many women don’t know what they’re missing, resigning themselves to ho-hum sex lives. An anecdotal survey of a dozen women between the ages of 37 and 63 revealed that 60% only had sex a few times a month – some only once a month – but still said that they wouldn’t change anything about their sex lives.
Carmen, however, is reaping the benefits of a mature sex life. It took two decades of building confidence, investing in a relationship, and waiting for the kids to grow up, but now at 51, she says sex is better than ever before. She and her husband of 24 years have sex two or three times a week, experiment with fancy techniques at every opportunity, and look to DVDs and magazines for ideas. They even keep a separate condo “for private pleasures.” For women old and young, it’s sex worth aging for.