They may not be as perky as their younger counterparts but women approaching 40 are having the best sex of their lives, US researchers have found.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that women in their thirties and early forties are friskier, have more sexual fantasies and flings than younger women due to their "biological clock ticking", the UK's Daily Mail reported.
The researchers said that as women approach the menopause, they may sense their chance to have children is ending, resulting in an increased sexual appetite.
The team led by Professor David Buss surveyed 900 women about their attitudes towards sex, how often they had sexual fantasies and how likely they were to have a fling with a near stranger.
The women were split into groups:
- 19 to 26 years of age (in their sexual peak);
- 27 to 45 years of age (who were at the tail-end of their fertility); and
- women close to, or in, menopause.
The study revealed that the women in the 27- to 45-year-old group had the best sex lives. They had sex more often, thought about sex more frequently and were more open to having a fling with a stranger which may explain the rise of the "cougar".
"Results indicate women with declining fertility have greater sexual motivations and increased sexual behaviours than do women with relatively high fertility," Professor Buss said.
"These findings lend further support to the influence of the biological clock on women's mating psychology to facilitate conception before the window of opportunity closes."
The research was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Health & Wellbeing's sex expert Desiree Spierings says that women in their thirties and forties sometimes experience a spark in their sex drive, which is partly due to biological factors but also to women becoming more comfortable as "sexual beings".
"Some women start to evaluate their life at this point and realise that for some reason they have deprived themselves from a healthy, frequent and pleasurable sex life," she says.
"They then tend to make this conscious decision to accept themselves as a sexual being and feel more comfortable to start to express their sexuality."