We're learning. I was happy to see that confirmed by Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion's findings in the latest National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior.
I was glad to see that more Americans of all ages report they are engaging in a variety of sexual acts in addition to -- or instead of -- vaginal intercourse. Compared to the last survey, in 1994, more people are masturbating (alone or with a partner), giving or receiving oral sex, and generally experimenting with a medley of different sex acts: 41, to be exact.
And that doesn’t even include the use of sexual aids like vibrators.
This is good news for everyone, but especially for women -- and especially for women of a certain age. As this latest study confirms, women are less likely then men to experience orgasm during vaginal intercourse without additional stimulation. And as we get older it takes often takes additional additional stimulation to get the kind of sexual release we got used to enjoying in our 20s and 30s.
Feeling free -- and knowing how -- to mix it up, to combine several ways of making love in a single sexual encounter, makes it easier for women and the partners who love them to experience the full range of intimate pleasure.
The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found that women were more likely have an orgasm if their partners used more than one technique in bed. Fifty-four percent of women who had “one-act” sex during their last encounter reported having an orgasm, while 89 percent of women who included five sex acts in their most recent assignation enjoyed orgasm.
Another piece of good news from the study: among women 50 and older, solo masturbation was more commonly reported than most other sexual behaviors. To me, this suggests that masturbation is not only less taboo among older women that it once was, it also indicates that more women are actively maintaining their bodies for sexual enjoyment. As a doctor who specializes in the health of women over 40, I’m a strong advocate of self-stimulation. It helps us remain sexually healthy and responsive (not to mention in a good mood) during times when we are without partners. When we have partners, it can help prepare genital tissues for comfortable intercourse and/or orgasm.
You may not aspire to all 41 acts. But if you’d like to expand your sexual repertoire, our website offers information and products that can help you expand your knowledge and pleasure. Branch out!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.