Duane Hoffmann / MSNBC
By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 12/7/2006 7:01:17 AM ET 2006-12-07T12:01:17

When do women hit their sexual prime? Do vaginas close up if they're not used? How often do condoms break? And are some tongues technically challenged? Sexploration answers your queries. Have an intimate question? To e-mail us, click here .

Q: My wife and I are both approaching 40 and are wondering what it means when they say women reach their “sexual prime” at about 40.  Is that true? She’s curious, and I’m hoping it will mean more frequent sex.

A: Who knows. When I was about 17, somebody said I was at my sexual peak (I hadn’t had sex yet so this came as a disappointment) but it wasn’t true. This whole “sexual prime” thing is a meaningless label like, oh, “liberal.”

Sure, at 40 Mr. Happy may not stand at attention like a Marine in boot camp, and a woman may not writhe with sexual anticipation on a date, but what does all that mean?

As a rather experienced woman I know once told me, “Younger guys get it harder and straighter, but older guys know what to do with it.”

Same goes for women. Some women say sex is better than ever after 40. Think about it. Are the kids more self-sufficient? Is she established at work? She has less stress and gets more sleep.

She may also be old enough to toss out her inhibitions. A great fringe benefit of aging is not caring what anybody thinks. 

Most importantly, if your relationship is strong and deep, sex can grow. As psychologist and sex therapist David Schnarch has written: “Couples who learn to integrate their increasing capacity for intimacy in their sex often report the most intense encounters of their lives.”

Q: My boyfriend and I keep our long-distance relationship alive with phone sex. I’m worried because some friends have told me that by the time we get back together four months from now, I could “close up.” Should I trust my friends?

A: You mean like an ear piercing? Umm, no. You won’t close up. After four months, you’ll be open for business the second he steps off the plane.   

Q: I gave birth to five children naturally. I’m not exactly “tight.” So how is it possible for a condom to break every time I have intercourse? Are they commonly defective? Or is he not using them properly?

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A: Five kids and you are just now asking this question? Think there’s a connection? Hey, I’m just asking.

While everybody seems to have a condom break story, it rarely happens without operator error. The Food and Drug Administration failure-rate standard for a batch of condoms is .4 percent. In other words, 99.6 percent have to hold up in lab testing, and leading manufacturers typically exceed that standard.

Studies over the past dozen years or so have yielded higher rates of failure in “real life” usage, but it was usually because of mistakes like a guy buying the wrong size (we all don’t need a “magnum”), using oil-based lubricants, trying to have sex like the pistons in Jeff Gordon’s engine, rolling it on incorrectly then flipping it over and trying again, or forgetting to pull back the foreskin if he’s circumcised.

Unless you’re looking for child No. 6, check out the Web site of the American Social Health Association to give him a refresher course.

Q: Why can’t my boyfriend of a year-and-half go “downtown”? He says he can’t do things with his tongue like blow bubbles or French kiss. I try to give him confidence by teaching him how to blow bubbles, but still nothing. What should I do?

A: Wait, wait … sorry … can’t … stop … laughing. Bubble-blowing lessons … wait … happening again...

Sweetie, has he ever licked an ice cream cone? Yes? OK, now think a moment. Got that picture in your mind? Well, if he can lick an ice cream cone, well, do I really have to finish this thought?

Brian Alexander is a California-based writer who covers sex, relationships and health. Alexander, also a Glamour contributing editor, is traveling around the country to find out how Americans get sexual satisfaction for the MSNBC.com special report "America Unzipped" and in an upcoming book for Harmony, an imprint of Crown Publishing.

Sexploration appears every other Thursday.

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