Men hit their sexual peak at 18, while women hit their sexual peak at 35, never the twain to peak or orgasm simultaneously. A recent column in The Telegraph complicates this further by suggesting that we start calling women in their 50s or 60s particularly those who prefer younger men , not Cougars, but WHIPs: Women who are hot, intelligent and in their prime.
This raises a question: If women are in their prime later in life, are we even more misaligned from the year-old male prime than we thought, or has that shifted too?
Can we pick whatever prime we want and call it a day? And when exactly are men in their prime? First, we need to know where this alleged mismatched peaking comes from in the first place.
Scientists measured peak sex hormones in men and women and found that testosterone in men generally peaks at 18, when they are also most responsive to arousal. Estrogen peaks in women in their mid-to-late 20s.
This notion has long been deemed misleading—at best only a partial way of assessing sexual peak. Sociologist Lisa Wade unpacks why the male sexual peak might be fake in a piece for Salon, where she explains how the idea has been propped up in a number of ways. This creates a lifelong cultural repression and discomfort with their bodies that prevents women from being confident and comfortable in their sexuality.
But back to men: A man is also considered to reach his physical prime in his 30s because afterward, muscle mass begins to decline. But if a man decides to work out in his 40s or 50s and rebuild that mass, he may actually reach physical peak then. But the study also found that men tend to increase their desirability again in their 50s. Back at Salon, Wade sums it up thusly: Instead of thinking about sexual peaks at all, perhaps we should use a different metaphor: We are all forced to fight for our own sexualities, contending with cultural, interpersonal, psychological and physiological factors that conspire to limit our imagination.
Instead of anticipating or mourning a golden time, the goal could be embracing our sexual experiences as they change throughout the life cycle, sometimes trading one good for another, but always with the aim of maximizing the good. Or as a commenter notes on Reddit in a thread asking men what age they considered their prime: