You often hear about a man or woman’s sexual peak or when someone is in their sexual prime. But is there any science to back this up? Keep reading to learn more about sex drive, what affects it, and at what age you might expect to have the best sex.
What Exactly Is a Sexual Peak and When Do People Reach It?
It’s often touted that men reach their sexual peak before the age of 20, while women hit theirs around 30 to 35. This implies that the time before and after your sexual peak, you won’t have as good of sex.
“This belief may stem from the seminal work of [Alfred] Kinsey and his colleagues, who used total orgasm frequency from all sexual ‘outlets,’ including masturbation, as an index of sexual peak,” according to a study in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.
According to Kinsey’s work, men reported having the highest number of orgasms when they are 17 or 18, with women reporting the most orgasms when they are over 30 years old.
But looking solely at total orgasms doesn’t exactly account for the whole picture. “Other important indicators may include the capacity for sexual performance and the ease with which one becomes sexually aroused,” the article states.
While sex drive can change over a person’s lifetime, and other factors might affect a person’s sexual function, that doesn’t mean a person is enjoying sex less. Just because a man can orgasm more often doesn’t mean he’s having better sex.
Beyond that, women might report more orgasms later in life because factors like better sexual communication and more skilled partners can come into play, as well.
“People can have more than one period of time when they’re having incredible sex,” Searah Deysach, sex educator and owner of Early to Bed, told Healthline.
So When Are Men and Women Having Their Best Sex?
If ‘sexual peak’ doesn’t really mean anything, then at what age are people actually having the best sex?
A 2022 “Archives of Sexual Behavior” study examined the relationship between sexual desire and age in men and women, and the results showed no exact correlation between the two factors.
“On average, the associations between age and both men and women’s sexual desire followed nonlinear trends and differed between genders/sexes and types of sexual desire,” the study found.
In 2018, Match.com conducted a survey of 5,000 singles across the U.S., which found that single 66-year-old women and single 64-year-old men report having their best sex. While it’s worth noting that being single versus committed can make a difference in your sex life, this is just one example that shows that great sex isn’t reserved for any specific age or gender identity.
“Great sex isn’t about having a ‘perfect’ body or being young or any of the cultural standards we’ve been fed about what sex should be,” says Holly Richmond, CST, LMFT, a certified sex therapist. “Rather, great sex is about knowing yourself and being able to communicate what feels good to your partner.”
What Factors Impact Sexual Desire?
As it becomes clear that age doesn’t have as significant an impact on sex as once assumed, it’s worth noting other factors that can.
- Poor self-esteem or body image
- History of negative sexual experiences
- Sexual dysfunction
- Certain medications
- Alcohol use
- Physical fitness
- Disconnect with your partner
- Lack of trust
- Poor communication about your desires
- Unresolved issues
If you feel like you are struggling with your sexual desire, speak to your doctor to determine if any of the above factors could be affecting you.
It should be noted that not everyone wants to have sex, and that’s totally normal and great. Asexuality, for example, is a sexual orientation in which a person experiences no sexual desire toward individuals of any gender. Asexuality doesn’t make a person any less. Having sex is a choice and there’s no right or wrong way of being when it comes to what we like.
Next time you hear someone say you’re past your sexual peak (super rude, maybe don’t keep them around), you can rest on the knowledge that, according to science, there’s no such thing. Whether you’re 30 or 75, have as much (or as little) sex as you like—as long as you’re enjoying yourself.