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Good Sex In Your Prime Is An Investment In Your Middle Aged Sex Life

Couple asleep in bed.


Good Sex In Your Prime Is An Investment In Your Middle Aged Sex Life

Why good sex when you’re young will enable you to stay sexual at midlife and beyond.

Miley Cyrus made headlines by declaring that sex was basically over once one passed 40.

There was some discussion in my local sex therapy community about whether or not Miley was being entirely serious. But sex in the second half of life is a topic that gets a lot of attention these days.

The next day I found myself invited to the Manhattan studio of Inside Edition to discuss middle aged sex—and to what extent it still exists. In previous articles we’ve dealt with suchmidlife-related related subjects as

— how to keep sexual passion alive when you’re too busy or tired(link is external), and

— how to have good sex when the male partner no longer gets spontaneous erections.(link is external)

These subjects have been on a lot of people’s minds lately.

I remember at 20 wondering about whether older people still had sex.  Now after 25 years as a sex therapist, I’m pretty convinced that they do. Either that, or a lot of older people in my office have been paying a lot of money just to make me seem foolish.

But things do change over the decades. Most 20 year olds, if offered a choice between sex and sleep, would regard it as a no-brainer and choose sex every time. Later in life, things begin to look different. Sex can always wait. It’s sleep that’s precious and not to be refused if offered.

Somewhere between the birth of one’s first child and retirement, there is a subtle shift from needing sex to merely wanting it. One becomes more discerning: It’s not just sex that one wants; it’s good sex, sex that takes you someplace special and makes you feel genuinely good about yourself.

For many couples, a satisfying sex life in middle age and beyond is one of life’s greatest rewards. To be deeply known in both the emotional and biblical sense is for most of us an important ingredient in feeling fully alive.

Whether couples continue to enjoy sex at midlife and beyond seems to depend strongly on how much they enjoyed it when they were younger. In my office, I encourage young couples to imagine that they have a sexual bank account together. Every time they have good sex, they’re making a deposit in that account—the one that contains all their stored memories of pleasure, joy, and gratitude.

Decades later, when sex may be more of a wish than a need—and when getting in the mood may require plenty of rest, careful positioning, some lubricant, and maybe a bit of Viagra—that account can pay handsome dividends for a couple. is external) New York City

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[Stephen Snyder]

Stephen Snyder, M.D., is a sex and couples therapist, psychiatrist, and writer in New York City. He is currently Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He has lectured nationally on topics related to mental health aspects of sexuality--combining the biomedical perspective of a physician and the psychological perspective of a sex therapist. He has been an active member of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research since 1995. He has been a featured lecturer and discussant at the Society’s national meetings, and has served on both its Professional Book Award and its Consumer Book Award committees. Over 25 years of practice in Manhattan as a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and sex and couples therapist, he has worked to develop better treatments for sexual problems-- including integrative treatments that combine medical and psychological approaches. His current major areas of interest include: sexuality and the self; diversity of individuals’ sexual natures; current controversies regarding the “medicalization of sexuality”; and sexual psychology in popular culture (be sure to catch his blogs on Twilight, and on Alvin & The Chipmunks). He lives with his wife and children in New York City.

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