Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sexual Prime--Myth?

 Hugh Hefner (87) with wife, Crystal (27), seems to be in a never-ending sexual prime.

I have always thought there was something called 'sexual prime.' I had always had the impression that younger men, in their late teens-early 20's were at their sexual peak, whereas women didn't reach it until they were in their 30's. This subject has popped up more recently in my life. Being in my early twenties, sex is something different than it was five years ago (along with a lot of other things). Having gone through my own relationships and experiences, I started to wonder what kind of pull a 'sexual peak' has on a relationship. Doing a bit of research, I'm finding out that the idea of a peak or prime is actually a misunderstood myth.

It all comes back to Alfred Kinsey, my favorite sexologist. He founded the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction in Indiana (that I would love to attend for graduate school if I ever go back). Kinsey conducted tons of interviews and polls to determine sexual data about the general population. His reports were ground-breaking, showing us information we had never known, and had previously thought of as taboo. But, his research was published in 1953. For anyone who doesn't want to do the math in their head, that was 61 years ago. Not that his information isn't still relevant--it's definitely a good base for us to start from. But we need to look more into why the data was what it was then and what it would be now. His information told us that the people who were having the most orgasms were 18 year old men and 35 year old women. According to a Huffington post article that interviewed a Canadian psychologist who specializes in female sexuality, the societal norms have a lot to do with the women's results. Lori Brotto says that the women in this age range back then were likely married and more settled in life. The 18 year old men were probably all masturbating. Not that younger women don't also indulge privately, but especially back then, they likely wouldn't admit to it. So, what does this mean to us in 2014?

Times are pretty different now than they were in the 50's. Back then, people married young and had kids young. These days, we are living longer and most people are in no rush to settle down & have kids. Teenagers have always been thought of as crazy hormone-driven horndogs, but more & more often now, we are seeing articles about the older population being happier and more sexually active. There are many reasons for this, and a big reason is that happiness. Sex drive has a lot to do with other life factors. People are much more able to be turned on when they aren't stressed out. As we get older, we tend to understand life and ourselves better, as well as how to handle situations. Our stress is more likely to be handled in a positive way the older we get, as we've typically experienced similar situations in our pasts at that point. Older people know themselves better--mentally, emotionally, and physically. Sex is always more enjoyable when the persons involved have a better sense of self-esteem and confidence.

Testosterone plays a big role in how we crave sex, and it tends to decrease as we age. So typically, younger people will want sex more because their hormones are raging for it, and older people will want it because they know what they want. Looking at things on a purely biological basis, yes, sexual prime will come in the late teenage years into your twenties, maybe even the early thirties now. Fertility doesn't last forever, and we can't make babies into our fifties and sixties. A lot of women may be more open to spontaneous or more frequent sex in their late 30s and 40s because of the fact that they know pregnancy is not a worry. 

There are so many factors into sex drive. Women tend to get turned on much slower than men, who fantasize about sex about twice as much. Take into account that each person is different and each person has their own fetishes and dislikes, stresses and worries, and there is way too much to have any actual fact about one particular age for a sexual prime. One person may experience their most frequent sex life as a young 20-something, while another one might not experience it until their 40's. So, if you're a 20 year old guy who doesn't crave sex like his friends, or a 50 year old woman who wants it more than she ever did, don't feel like there's anything wrong with you. Maybe a relationship you were in in your 20's wasn't giving you what you needed in other areas, and so sex wasn't a priority, whereas it is now, and vice-versa. Drive is very specific to each individual person, and though we can generalize somewhat, there is not cut and dry answer to what is normal and how to achieve it. If your sex drive is higher or lower than you think it should be at any age, consider your circumstances, your relationships, and then maybe talk with your doctor to figure out why you are feeling the way you are.