The female orgasm just keeps getting better with age. This is based on new research from Natural Cycles, a fetility tracking app whose accuracy is so on pointe that European governement health officials certified it as a legitimate form of contraception in February. For its study on the female orgasm, Natural Cycles surveyed 2,618 women and divided them into three age groups: “young” (below 23 years), “middle” (23-36) and “older” (36 and up).
Of these groups, research concluded that older women (are we still okay with the word cougars? No? Okay.) not only experineced the most satisfying orgasms (58 percent) but also the most enjoyable sex (relatively speaking), with 86 percent reporting that they’d had toe-curling intercourse in the last four weeks. If that wasn’t enough, these women were also the most comfortable in their skin. So it’s safe to assume the common denominator between these self-evaluations is one’s own confidence.
“The results of the survey send out a really positive message about something us women have known and expected for some time,” said Amanda Bonnier of Natural Cycles. “As you get older and get to know your body better, you can have a more enjoyable sex life and feel confident about yourself.”
As we at Playboy have explored before, millennials (or in this case, those under 23 years old) experience the fewest orgasms, though they are more pleased with their physical appearances than middle-aged women, because we damn well know that youth begets glowing skin and a taut physique.
These numbers keep up with results of other surveys. A 2015 survey by sex-toy company Adam & Eve found that 45 percent of women experience their first orgasm between the ages of 18 and 24. That’s because the female orgasm is exceedingly more difficult than a man’s. In fact, Planned Parenthood says that as many as one in three women have trouble reaching orgasm while having intercourse. So cultivating one, either alone or with a partner, takes practice. For some, it can take years.
According to Women’s Day, which spoke with sex researcher Debby Herbenick, based on past research, only 61 percent of women in their thirties mentioned they had recently achieved an orgasm, compared to 70 percent of women in their forties and fifties. Again, this result underlines the fact that orgasms get better with experience due to the fact that women learn what they like. Women then grow more comfortable in themselves sexually.
On the other hand, this research ignores the concept of the sexual peak. “There’s at least one study I know of which found that women experience a small sexual peak in their thirties, meaning they tend to fantasize more about sex and have more frequent sex,” resident Playboy columnist and sex scientist Justin Lehmiller says. “Although that study didn’t look specifically at orgasms, it seems logical that better or more frequent orgasms might accompany such a peak in sexual desire.”
Lehmiller explains that some scientists believe there’s an evolutionary reason women reach a sexual peak in their thirties, and that it’s nature’s way of encouraging women to capitalize on fertility before menopause.“Compared to younger women, women in their thirties are probably more comfortable talking about sex, too, which means they may be more likely to tell their partners what they want,” he adds.
Another contributing factor to better orgasms is the trust and intimacy that gets established with a long-term partner, who, over time, learns how to become a better lover more in tune with their partner, like where—and when—to hit all the right buttons. Sure, looks can fade, but the gift of experience just keeps on giving.
Finally, while less than a third of Natural Cycles’s participants had sex twice per week, the majority believe monogamy is key to a happier sex life, with more than 80 percent saying that it’s possible to have an amazing, long-lasting sex life with the same person, despite some evidence suggesting otherwise. So, score one for monogamy, too.