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Home Sexual Health. They married in their 20s, and for years the New York couple had a rich, full sex life. But beginning in his late 30s, the husband no longer eyed his wife with desire. When she hesitantly tried to talk about their sex life, he changed the subject.
Sex became almost a nonevent, and their once-strong relationship soured. As a California couple headed into their 40s, their sex life changed too — but for the better. True, they no longer frolicked in the bedroom like newlyweds. But both agreed that the sensual side of their marriage had never burned so brightly. What explains the difference between the two couples? Both men and women undergo physical, psychological and hormonal changes that are normal, gradual and subtle — touching all systems of the body, including that most active sex organ, the brain.
For women, some of the changes are caused by menopause, which occurs when female hormones decrease, bringing a halt to menstruation. On average, that happens in the early 50s. But the process often begins in the early to mids and spans four or five years. She may lose protective fatty tissue in the pubic area while gaining weight elsewhere. Once pleasurable, intercourse may now feel uncomfortable, even painful. Not understanding these natural physical changes, she may complain that her husband is being too rough and withdraw from sex.
Her husband may mistakenly believe she has lost interest in him. Men go through hormonal changes too. A French study of healthy men ages 20 to 60 showed up to a percent decline in testosterone over four decades. Comparing 77 healthy married men ages 45 to 74, Raul C. However, none of these changes should interfere with a full sex life. For example, if a woman has vaginal discomfort, the solution can be as simple as a shift of position during intercourse or use of an inexpensive, over-the-counter water-soluble lubricant.
Says New York City urologist E. Indeed, experts say the changes themselves can actually enhance the relationship and make for better sex — if the couple discovers ways to capitalize on them. Herant Katchadourian, professor of human biology at Stanford University. But as a man ages, the tempo changes from allegro to largo. Because of a normal slowing of blood flow and changes in muscle tone, men in their 40s or 50s require more time to reach a climax, and their orgasms are less forceful.
He may become more in tune with her interest in a slow, sensuous seduction. According to a University of Chicago study, women in their 20s are least likely of all age groups to achieve orgasm during intercourse. Women in their early 40s are most likely — and by a wide margin. Take action.
The University of Chicago study found that 51 percent of to year-old men became excited when they watched their wives undress. By the mids, the percentage dropped to Once couples learn to pay less attention to what they see and more to what they do, says New York City sex and marital therapist Shirley Zussman, their sex lives improve dramatically.
Balance the seesaw. When they were first married, the man remembered, he always took the sexual lead, pulling his wife close and whispering his desire to make love. But now, 20 years later, she often makes the first move. Again, hormonal changes are bringing the couple into closer balance. Men and women both produce testosterone and estrogen, but the proportion of each changes over the years.
Dare to experiment. As partners become older, more experienced and more trusting of each other, they may become less inhibited in their views of what constitutes satisfying sex. The two looked at each other. They did — and it worked. Achieve more from less. The University of Chicago survey showed that nearly half of to year-olds said they made love at least two or three times a week, including 11 percent reporting four times or more. By the early 40s, the had fallen to 30 percent. Yet more than any other group, men and women in their 40s considered themselves emotionally and physically satisfied by their lovemaking.
As the frequency drops, couples should realize that each encounter can become more special, a moment to be anticipated and savored. In a secure relationship, there is less emphasis on how often, and more on how good.
A gratifying sex life after 35 calls for a series of adjustments. But for couples who understand the normal and inevitable changes, and meet them together, sexual pleasure can be greater than ever. Their sex lives will be rich in their 40s, 50s — and beyond. We are no longer supporting IE Internet Explorer as we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices.
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