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This episode explains what it means to be a late bloomer, to have sex later than average. It covers some of the research on the subject and answers questions I've received from people who identify as late bloomers. I want to note, late bloomers refer to people who become sexually active later in life -- not people who are chaste, celibate, or asexual and do no want to be sexually active.

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Dr. Lindsey Doe: This episode of Sexplanations was brought to you by our generous sponsor, Adam & Eve. I'm sitting in this sex swing from them to remind you that sex can be playful at any age.

-- Intro Cut Scene --

Late Bloomer (noun): A person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.

Usual or on time in a sexual context is classified as having sex for the first time when you're 15 - 19 years old. 14 or younger is early, and 19 or older is considered late. So here a late bloomer a person whose sexual talents or capabilities weren't visible until they became adults. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a third of people in the US are late bloomers. They have sexual experiences later than their peers, but that doesn't mean their growth is stunted. Just like a person who reaches puberty later than others, they might grow just as much, if not more, than those who started earlier. 

A study of over 3300 participants found those who had sex later were significantly more satisfied with their sexual relationships than those who started having sex earlier. Basically, sex could be even better if you start having it later.

Here are some questions I received from late bloomers about sex:

What advice do you have for 'late bloomers' who are dealing with sexual repression?

Find someone like you, maybe even online, and talk about your similar experiences. Hold each other accountable for talking small steps and support each other during trials and successes.

How will I know what to do?

I think that putting together a "Want, Will, Won't" list for your sexuality is a useful way to first figure out what you want to do. Essentially making three columns on a page. One, your Wants, are all the ideal pieces of your sexuality, then there's a column (your Wills) that you consent to, but doesn't necessarily excite you, and finally the Won't column is comprised of hard limits, your "absolutely nots, don't ask me agains."

Work towards putting 30 items in each column. This will help you become less repressed and more sexually aware, and it will expand your options beyond where you are now and what you're afraid of. 

I'm a mature adult, but I don't know how to approach sexual conversations.

Sure you do. Sexplanations. I regularly receive messages saying "I can talk about these things with my partner, parents, friends, etc, more easily because I watch you do it.

I put all of our videos in a chronological playlist, so you can just let them become the background noise to cooking dinner and cleaning house. It'll be like language immersion in sex talk.

How can I tell my partner about my lack of experience?

When people start relationships many of them fret about the "who have you been with previously" conversation. What if the other person is more or less experienced? How will I compare? What will they think if I tell them the truth? These are all fears - mainly that we can't control what another person thinks of us. Approach the conversation as if you weren't trying to control the other person or the outcome. Speak your truth, embrace reality, know your worth as a person, and strike a balance between confidence and beginners humility.

You could say something like "I want to impress you sexually, but I may struggle at first because I've never done this before." or "I'm eager to learn how to please you", "What's one thing I should avoid doing?" and "What's something else that turns you on?"

Is it going to hurt?

I hope not. If it does, stop what you're doing and problem solve.

Muscle strain? Use a sex swing or sex cushions to raise your partner up. 

Friction? Spend more time getting aroused and add lube as needed.

Too tight? There are dilators ranging from the size of my pinky to the size of my wrist that can gradually make things wider. I love the story from Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues about a woman in her seventies who never looked at her vagina and never had sex. She avoided what she call her "down there" out of fear she would ejaculate some sort of blood or have an accident. At 72, after some therapy, she went home one afternoon by herself, lit some candles, took a bath, played some soft music and she got down with herself. She said it took her over an hour because she was arthritic, but when she finally found her clitoris she said she cried.

if the pain is emotional consult with a compassionate therapist. if it's arthritis, consider a hands-free vibrator.

I don't want to be with someone inexperienced. Why would anyone want to be with me?

There's actually a study that validates this. Late bloomers perceive that they're less desirable than their peers - and in actuality, they are. The research found it is more difficult to obtain sexual and romantic relationships because of the stigma. But you are not just your sexual inexperience. You are all of your characteristics and mannerisms. You nurture those things that make you an awesome person and you alter the ones that don't.

There are so many variables that impact a person's attraction to you, and their interest in having ridiculously fun sex with you. 

No really, why would someone want to date a late bloomer?

I slept with three people who hadn't had any sexual experience before we started dating. I wanted to date them and have sex with them because they were kind and cared about me, plus I was horny and wanted to have sex with them. The results? Sex was amazing. No complaints. The quality of a relationship, and sex (for me - and I think most) isn't dependent upon someone's experience, it's about chemistry, attraction and desire. 

What will make it good?

Being attentive, in tune with what the other person is asking for. And just because you're having sex later in life doesn't mean you aren't taking full advantage of sexual knowledge and skills. Hopefully you know how to listen and communicate. You know how to show respect, how to comfort someone, and what to do to protect yourself. You probably even know anatomy and physiology and most importantly, you're resourceful. So, unlike your peers who navigated sex in high school without much guidance or wisdom, you know where to get the right answers when you feel uncertain. 

I think it's important to remember, we didn't all come out of the womb knowing how to have sex. Just like learning grammar and how to tie our shoes, we had to start somewhere. Learning comes from being curious.

Stay Curious.

Having playthings is one way to nurture your sex life. Use promo code: DOE when shopping at to get 50% off any one eligible item, and free shipping anywhere in the US.