The Science of Cougar Sex: Why Older Women Lust

Posted on July 20, 2010 

The Science of Cougar Sex: Why Older Women Lust

Men who cheat on their spouses have always enjoyed an expedient explanation: Evolution made me do it. Many articles (here is one, and here is another), especially in recent years, have explored the theory that men sleep around because evolution has programmed them to seek fertile (and, conveniently, younger) wombs.

But what about women? If it’s really true that evolution can cause a man to risk his marriage, what effect does that have on women’s sexuality?

A new journal article suggests that evolutionary forces also push women to be more sexual, although in unexpected ways. University of Texas psychologist David Buss wrote the article, which appears in the July issue of Personality and Individual Differences, with the help of three graduate students, Judith Easton (who is listed as lead author), Jaime Confer and Cari Goetz. Buss, Easton and their colleagues found that women in their 30s and early 40s are significantly more sexual than younger women. Women ages 27 through 45 report not only having more sexual fantasies (and more intense sexual fantasies) than women ages 18 through 26 but also having more sex, period. And they are more willing than younger women to have casual sex, even one-night stands. In other words, despite the girls-gone-wild image of promiscuous college women, it is women in their middle years who are America’s most sexually industrious.

By contrast, men’s sexual interest and output, usually measured by a reported number of orgasms per week, peaks in the teen years and then settles to a steady level (an average of three orgasms per week) for most of their lives. As I pointed out in March, most men remain sexually active into their 70s. According to the new study, as well as the study I wrote about in March, women’s sexual ardor declines precipitously after menopause.

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