A friend recently asked me what it’s like to be a woman dating and having sex in your 30s. My response was very straightforward, “It’s confusing. I want to have sex with everyone and no one, all at the same time.” On one hand my hormones are raging, while at the same time I have learned from the transgressions of my early 20s and have become much more selective about who I get naked with. My guess is that I am not alone.
According to renowned American sexologist Alfred Kinsey, I am in my “sexual peak.” In the late 1940’s Alfred Kinsey took the sex histories of over 5,000 women before publishing his book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953. Kinsey calculated “sexual peaks” based on the number of orgasms a person can have in a given time period. He determined that women reach their “sexual peak” in their mid-30’s and men at around 18-years-old; figures which have since been disseminated across popular media.
However, if we were to define “sexual peak” by overall confidence, pleasure and finesse in the bedroom, I would argue that many men hit their sexual peaks in their late 20s and 30s alongside their female counterparts. If we’re being perfectly honest here, the majority of men aged 18-20 may be incredibly virile, but are still getting their footing in the bedroom - and that’s OK. In my experience, by the time you hit your 30s, men and women are more or less on the same page when it comes to sexual experience and knowing what they like in the bedroom, resulting in more pleasurable sex for both parties.
However if we are to take Kinsey’s numbers at face value, it would seem that as men and women we are destined to be forever out of sync when it comes to their carnal desires. Yet, from my experience this couldn’t be further from the truth. The popular concept of “sexual peaks” doesn’t take into account the complexities of human sexuality - leading me to believe that it is just another social construct designed to control and define how we as humans experience our sexualities.
Dr. Trina Read, sexologist and author of VivaXO.com, agrees that the concept of “sexual peaks” is socially constructed. In the 1940’s and 50’s, “Kinsey’s research caused incredible notoriety and backlash by saying women were both sexual and able to achieve orgasms; the media storm was incredible,”says Read. “Therefore, I don’t believe sexual peaks are real; they are a made up media phenomenon (similar to sex addiction and sexless marriages),” she explains, adding, “there is no period of time in a woman’s life where she reaches her sexual peak.”
When it comes to female sexuality, the situation is anything but black and white. As Read explains, “Every decade in a woman’s life has pros and cons for her sexual self-confidence and health.”
According to Lisa Wade, sociologist and author of the recent article in Salon, “5 Reasons why your “sexual peak might be fake,” we should stop thinking in terms of “sexual peaks” and instead look at the process as a “sexual evolution.”
Regardless of our gender, when it comes to good sex, we need to stop longing for a golden era or looking to the future. Instead, we need to learn how to meet halfway so we can enjoy our present sexualities on our own terms - peaks and valleys be damned.