The magic number for sex’s most coveted 10 seconds.
For something that (for some people) lasts about 10 seconds or less, orgasms take up a lot of space in our collective consciousness—and for good reason. Psychologically, that sexual climax translates into a release of happy-making neurotransmitters—serotonin, which contributes to our moods and appetite and dopamine, which improves blood flow. Simply put, it may just be 10 seconds. But it’s a really good 10 seconds.
Not all orgasms are equal, and that’s obvious enough to anyone who’s ever faked it: A 2014 study showed that men have a higher rate of orgasm than women, and that doesn’t change with sexual orientation, and lesbian women have a higher rate than both bisexual and straight women. But who is having the best orgasms? It all comes down to age.
A 2005 study reported that a small, but not insignificant 14-percent of women under the age of 35 have never had an orgasm as a result of intercourse (and a considerable 38-percent experienced one only inconsistently). So it’s not too shocking that, as The Independent shared in 2017, the results of a survey by the app Natural Cycles showed that participants who were women ages 36 and older reported better and more frequent orgasms than they had earlier in life (younger participants not only reported fewer orgasms but also lower sexual frequency). These findings might not be quite scientific, but they are evidence that getting older can actually result in a better, more fulfilling sex life. “Aging like a fine wine” is right—especially when you pair that wine with some candlelight and a good playlist.
For guys, however, orgasms get harder over time—figuratively, not literally. According to researchers at the University of Chicago, men between the ages of 50 to 59 are over three times as likely to experience erectile dysfunction than those between the ages of 18 and 29. According to Psychology Today, the more common issue is erectile dissatisfaction: Basically, the fact that it might take longer than it used to, or require a little more effort to achieve an erection can lead to some mental blockages that can translate into something, well, physical (the bright side: at least you don’t have to worry about coming early).
Good sex later in life—for both men and women—is hardly out of reach, in spite of physical challenges like decreased libido, menopause, and E.D. According to a survey by Match.com, women aged 66 and men aged 64 reported having their best sex ever. The University of Michigan’s 2018 National Poll on Healthy Aging similarly found that 74-percent of participants aged 65 to 80 consider sex an important part of a romantic relationship at any age, with 73-percent expressing satisfaction with their current sex life. But these studies don’t define sex as something that necessarily ends in climax, for one party or both.
There’s no time running out for intimacy, but when it comes to orgasm in particular, for both men and women, you can consider your mid-30s to mid-40s a sweet spot: Before menopause or E.D. are likely to set in and add extra physical challenges to climax, and after you’ve gained plenty of confidence to know what you like and how to ask for it, those 10 seconds are a particular pleasure.