Hey Miley: "We can't stop, we won't stop," ... Having sex after 40.
The lyrics from Miley's chart-topping single and jaw-dropping performance at the VMAs rolled around in my head as I sat aghast watching Miley Cyrus pompously insist to Matt Lauer that after 40, sex is over. Sorry, Miley, but thousands of stories, hundreds of patients and numerous research studies say that sex is most definitely not over after 40 and, in fact, in many cases, it just gets better (For further testament, look at my Facebook page -- I couldn't keep up with the comments when I asked my fans if sex ended after 40 -- the answer again and again is a resounding "No!")
Of course, many men and women will experience a dip in their sex drive as they age and some may even have to alter their behavior in order to maintain a healthy sex life, but there is no scheduled moment in time when a higher power strikes you down and says, "That's it, sex is over for you." Sexual desire can come and go at any age and is affected by a multitude of factors. People in their 20s and 30s can struggle with their sexual desire, while people in their 40s and 50s can have the best sex of their lives -- Miley your naiveté is showing.
Look at Madonna -- she's been a sexual icon throughout her youth -- and has remained as such more than a decade after turning 40.
Sexual wellness is not defined by how few wrinkles you have or how good you look in lingerie. A healthy sex life is characterized by confidence, security, emotional stability, the dynamics of a relationship and each individual's level of self-discovery. While sex in your 20s might be the aesthetically pleasing version of healthy sex, most people in their 20s don't have much more than their beauty and youthful curiosity to cling to between the sheets. In your 40s and beyond, many people have a greater sense of self -- they know what they want and need to be satisfied and, when it comes to sex, the odds are, they know how to get it, too.
In 2011, a follow-up survey to a long-term research study was sent out to more than 1,300 women, aged 40 to 80 years -- nearly 900 women returned the survey and the results were reported in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Medicine. Almost 50 percent of those women reported sexual activity within the last month -- with or without a partner. Arousal occurred in 64.5 percent of the sexually active women, with 69 percent experiencing lubrication and 67 percent reaching orgasm. Even more interesting was the report of sexual satisfaction, turns out no sex after 40 might be a choice for happiness for many women -- two-thirds of the sexually active women and 50 percent of non-sexually active women reported being moderately to very satisfied with their sex lives.
In another study, published in August 2011, in the Archives of Sexual Behavior sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness were researched among midlife and older couples in five countries. The mean age for the men in the study was 55 and the women, 52 with the length of the relationships ranging from one to 51 years. The outcomes revealed that relationship happiness and sexual satisfaction among men was directly correlated with physical intimacy, sexual functioning and personal health. However, among women the relationship happiness was the dominating factor for determining sexual satisfaction. And, women in long-term relationships reported greater satisfaction later in the relationship than in the early portion of the relationship.
Youth may be fleeting, but your sexuality and your sex life certainly don't have to be. Stereotypes and social inadequacies related to aging are often myths derived from the inexperienced youth -- because no one can see that far or fully understand the experience of aging until it happens. It is rather inexplicable and it is what makes being young, well, being young. And, Miley is young -- how much can you really tell a 20-year-old who has already reached the height of her success? Normal teens think they know it all, imagine what those that already "have it all" must think they know... like what sex is like after 40.
For more by Jen Landa, M.D., click here.
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