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Sex: Why slower (and older) may be better
March 17th, 2011
07:24 AM ET

Sex: Why slower (and older) may be better

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

Recently, my very own mother discovered romance anew and is having what can only be described as a love affair.

Her last boyfriend passed away a couple of years ago, so I’m happy for her in all her giddiness. And while nobody likes to think about their parents having sex, I can’t help but wonder if her sex life is now better than mine.

As a busy dad of two young sons, I have to admit that it’s hard to keep sex high on the list of priorities: My wife and I will often opt to hit the hay rather than tumble in it.

Does sex get better with age? According to a study in the November 2008 issue of Psychological Science, marital satisfaction may improve once the kids have left the nest. In fact, many of my colleagues in the world of sex therapy attest that empty nesters tend to have more disposable income and more opportunity to enjoy quality time with their partner, including sex.

Sex therapist David Schnarch writes about the difference between a person’s “genital prime” and his or her “sexual prime.” For most of us, the genital prime happens during adolescence and our 20s, when the body is in its best shape, however, the mind may not be as well-developed sexually. Schnarch says that a person’s sexual prime is actually well beyond what most of us think of as the hot-and-heavy sex years - more like middle age than high school.

As we age, we benefit from accepting ourselves as we are, knowing what we like, and not being afraid to ask for it.

And aging itself may not affect sex as much as those unhealthy habits that take their toll after too many years. Too much stress, too little sleep, poor eating and exercise habits, and not making the time to nurture ourselves or our relationships can be the most damaging to our sex lives. Letting our overall health fall by the wayside may be the biggest culprit in sexual health woes, so it’s no surprise that many people in their 50s and 60s are more sexually fit than their younger predecessors.

One key difference between older and younger people: Sex is often slower as we age. While younger women may lubricate in as little as a few seconds, it can take older women up to several minutes to become lubricated. The same pattern applies to men and their erections. It’s important for both sexes to realize that taking longer to become erect or lubricated doesn’t necessarily mean a partner isn’t aroused.

In fact, slower can actually be better for your sex life. When the physical markers of arousal aren’t instantly obvious, it gives partners more time to play and connect with each other in bed. The behaviors we usually think of as foreplay can become the main event during sex, and give couples the opportunity to rediscover themselves and each other sexually. As men age, testosterone levels go down, while estrogen levels go up. This means that many older men are able to focus more and appreciate the tender side of sex.

For instance, if one position used to do the trick or if sex has always followed a predictable sequence, as it does in many long-term relationships, aging allows couples to shake things up. Maybe she wants to try a vibrator for better arousal (or maybe he does, too).

Or perhaps one or both people have been curious about erotic massage and other techniques, and now have a reason to introduce them into the relationship. As my colleague at Good in Bed, Dr. Gail Saltz, says, “Celebrate what improves with age: Younger men may have stronger erections, but older guys tend to have better control. You both know each other's bodies, you've perfected your bedroom technique, and you may feel less inhibited than you did in the past.”

I always like to say that the mind is the biggest sexual organ. By understanding the inevitable changes that occur over the sexual life cycle, and knowing how to deal with them, you can sustain a healthy, satisfying sex life well into your golden years. Keeping a sex-positive attitude and a commitment to overall health is the way to maximize sexuality, whether you’re 30 or 80. Go Mom!


soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. marco mauas

    Best of all is not considering, saying, thinking, calculating...how and when "it is better". Better not say when it's better.

    March 17, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Janey

    This is a very good, informative article. Intimacy comes in many shapes, sizes and forms, and it should last a couple's lifetime.

    March 17, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ted

    Great Article! “Celebrate what improves with age: Younger men may have stronger erections, but older guys tend to have better control" That sentence alone makes it worthwhile for a 30 yr old man to keep dating and pleasing 21 yr old women. :)

    March 17, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PHinMiami

      Right Ted. Young women date old men for MONEY, financial security, not your 'Studliness'.

      March 17, 2011 at 12:43 | Report abuse |
    • Hmmmm

      Since when has 30 become "older"??? I'm 41, so from my personal perspective you're one of the little young guys with no control, LOL.

      Totally J/K! ;D

      March 17, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • Tmp

      Pls don't use LOL, esp when you are 41.

      March 17, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • right

      @Tmp

      Right, cuz at 41 you're too old to know how to use teh internets...

      March 17, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      @Tmp

      lulz. You've been pwnt.

      (I'm 39, well-educated and a highly skilled writer.)

      March 17, 2011 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      Um...I think you need to update your conception of what a 41 year old is.
      41 years old is NOT a baby boomer anymore. That was the case maybe in the 80's, but not today.
      I'm 34, and the Internet came out right as I graduated High School. Sure, I remember modems and online bulletin boards, but I was looking for dates via AOL Internet and other online venues LONG before it was popular to do so :)
      Anyhow, a 41 year old would only be 7 short years older than me - hardly a guy who remembers poodle skirts, Elvis, and drive-in burger joints with girls on roller skates. That would be SIXTY year olds, not 40 year olds.

      March 17, 2011 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
  4. ed

    this bird is DEAD!!

    March 17, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Marty

    I like old women. You don't have to worry about them taking you to the cleaners with child support.

    March 17, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bigrick

      lol...good one Marty!

      March 17, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • dianee

      i'm married and prefer younger guys. they LOVE it cuz they know i'm not leaving my husband. (im in a non-traditional marriage.) no surprises. all involved know the rules of the game.

      March 17, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • Russell Jeffords

      The don't swell, they don't tell, they rarely smell. and they're grateful as h*ll
      Give me an older lady ANY day!

      March 18, 2011 at 19:25 | Report abuse |
  6. If you say so...

    That's just....sad.

    March 17, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Older is better

    We had great s3x in our 20's, good s3x (kids) in our 30's, but we raise the roof in our 40's. It absolutely gets better with age.

    March 17, 2011 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oman

      With three teenagers (one soon to be in college) and an 11 year old, at 47, I can't wait for the kids to be gone, but I'll miss 'em. I can only hope my marriage survives until then.

      April 1, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
  8. louise jackson

    Nothing new.... it's called "playing with yourself" or "beating your meat". Folks have been doing it forever. The real thrill is two individuals who are committed and in love with one another...making passionate love....WOW. Making love beats lust any day.

    March 17, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LEB

    What's sad about it? Sometimes you've just got to take care of your own needs. It keeps you from constantly pressuring your partner, too, which is a major turn-off.

    March 17, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Its all good

    I have 3 young children that keep my hopping like I never imagined. My husband and I make it a priority to make time for our intimate relationship. It sure makes the difference in keeping us close. At least 4-8 times a week, and we are more in love than we were when we met. If it gets better than this, than woohooo!

    March 17, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. James

    Hey at least Rosy won't ever cheat on you :-P

    Seriously though, news flash, ALL guys jerk it from time to time, and those who don't are liars. It's been going on and will continue for as long as humanity, and is a perfectly normal part of being human.

    March 17, 2011 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Brigit

    4-8 times a week? And you say you have three kids? I'm not buying it.

    March 17, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      Jealous?

      March 17, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • Millie

      Why not buy it?? We only had 3 kids (heard of birth control?) and in same category of 4-8 times almost up until year before husband died after being together for 50 years. He was a slightly older experienced man who cared about pleasing his partner instead of just himself and I who had not been with anyone else wanted to make him happy and as a result had a wonderful life all those years together. The thing about aging was you didn't have the kids interrupting.

      March 17, 2011 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      My fiancé and i have 5 children all together and we're hitting 3-8 wk. no kidding.

      April 7, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
  13. Its all good

    Yup. Quickie in the morning, romp in the eve. Date night. Save water, shower together. Fun fun fun. Did you know that even in women, the testosterone level is highest in the morning? It is a serious part of our life, and we love it.

    March 17, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oman

      I can't wait. I'm jealous.

      April 1, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
  14. Jorge

    It gets a whole lot better from 30 to 50, when you're smart enough to woo the younger hotties, flush enough to run around with them but not too old to catch your breath. After that it's all downhill, especially if you have to burn the candle at both ends at your career...

    March 17, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Brigit

    Its all good,

    Let me guess: Are you a born again Christian? Otherwise, I'm not buying it.

    March 17, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Its all good

    I am absolutely positively not born again!! Sorry if I offend those who are, but so not me! No, I am not trying to have more. In fact, this frequency continued through most of my pregnancies. We did have to cut things back around a couple of surgeries though. Buy is if you want or not, but keep an open mind. I think if people were more open about there desires and intimacy, there would be less divorce. Keep in mind desire is all a spectrum. There are those who have time together once every 2 years. I was just lucky enough to find someone on the opposite end of that spectrum. I could not possible imagine the kind of deprivation involved with such infrequent time together, and hope I'll never have to.

    March 17, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brigit

      You seem sincere. Or maybe just really young. Either way, at two to three times a day, the type of initimacy you describe sounds a bit routine.

      To each her/his own.

      March 17, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse |
  17. WhoKnows

    For rhe person that said younger women date older for their money.....I'd like to tell you, not all of us do. I am very proud to say my husband is 27 years my elder and we both work very hard for what little we have & I helped him pay child support & raise his youngest daughter. He was already divorced when we met. He is the love of my life and no matter how much or how little we have, we've got each other.

    March 17, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. bostongye

    More younger women need to open themselves up to the idea of having their salads tossed. Older women seem to love it and it makes the whole thing much better.

    March 17, 2011 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Rick

    Roflmao @ young peeps who think old duffers can't use the Internet or do it with younger women. Age 56 here and still rising to the occasion. ;)

    March 17, 2011 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jay

    I'm in my 50's, and still enjoy a fast&furious roll in the hay, full of lust and different positions. I guess I'll 'slow down' in my 70's.....

    March 17, 2011 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Susan Martin

    When you grow up, you will see things differently. Or, perhaps in your case, since you don't seem to get much beyond your age cage, NOT,

    March 17, 2011 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. mike hunt

    sick

    March 17, 2011 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Middle69

    Wonderful article! Just like a crock pot, low and slow. Microwaves are so not my style :-)

    March 18, 2011 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sal

    Call me a cynic, but there are NEVER two people who both love one another at the same time. In any given relationship one of the partners is cheating, and if it's not you I've got news for you.

    March 18, 2011 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. woodrow

    The biggest problem I've had with age is the women getting really fat and out of shape. I'm just not attracted to that. And physically speaking my charger never changed with age. But I can't get excited about an obese shapeless woman. So age does matter because I can't attract younger women anymore. So it's ix-nil on the pootang.

    March 18, 2011 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. dss111

    At 71 i know more than i did decades ago, and appreciate...and so celebrate...the differences more. So 5-7 times/week is not uncommon...sometimes 2 osr 3 of which are on the same day...So it is hardly boring. We expect many more years to keep getting better. We are better and healthier people as a result. Too bad if the thought gags the young, who do not know what they are missing. Fear is an unknown now, and the holy rollers who scream about it are people to smiile about.

    March 18, 2011 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. DelFuego

    Sal you are not a cynic. You obviously suck at relationships.

    March 18, 2011 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tom Leykis

    Nobody wants to think about or see a couple of blue hairs getting busy.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Funny

      I have to disagree. Go to Google and search 'granny' or 'mature' and view the results.

      March 18, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      See, no. But if they're still doing it, I say more power to em!

      March 19, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
  29. Pixy

    My hubby and I have 4 children, including a set of 4 yr old girls. I'm almost 30, he's 27, been together for years, and "go at it" just abt every day. We're both Irish/Scottish (w a smidgen of Dutch for me), and Scorpios. If our love life gets any better, I'm afraid one of us will quite literally have a coronary! Lmfao, can't wait to see if this is true or not =D

    And before ppl get on their high horses, tubes are clamped, both college educated, not on any sort of state aid, and while my love is very religous (Grandfather is a Catholic priest, Father and step-mother are non denominational pastors) I am not.. Let's see, I wonder who will have a snarky remark to my post, lol ;) Anywho, Can't wait for my 50's =D

    March 19, 2011 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Molly

    Due to their high promescuity, older people also need to be conscious of their chances of getting an STD or contracting HIV/AIDS. I'm writing my thesis on this subject right now, and prevention methods totally missed that generation.

    March 26, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Leo

    Agree on 100%. I'm 56 now, and I do everithing like in 30's just much better, and eljoy morte and more. Bravo!

    April 7, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. webpuppy

    we are 57 and rediscovering each other ;-)

    April 12, 2011 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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  33. Don

    Stay fit, eat right, exercise and keep it tight!

    April 15, 2011 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
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    May 11, 2011 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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  36. JIM

    M/78 & F/68 Never Better ! ! Never Quit Practice Practice Practice

    Above ALL, Love each other

    May 18, 2011 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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    August 27, 2011 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply

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