As women get older, they tend to have less sex. They may also find it less enjoyable than before. So far, studies have explained these tendencies by pointing the finger at physiological changes during and after menopause. What are the other factors?
Research has repeatedly found that women report having less sex and deriving less pleasure from it as they reach menopause and beyond.
One 2015 study in the journal Endocrinology & Metabolism Clinics of North America concluded that “[s]exual dysfunction increases with age and is highly prevalent among menopausal women.”
The same study referred to earlier research that noted that 42% of women transitioning into menopause reported symptoms of sexual dysfunction, and after 8 years, the number rose to 88%.
Why does this happen? Doctors tend to focus on the physiological aspects, such as vaginal dryness and changes in estrogen levels, that may make sex more difficult or less enjoyable during and after menopause.
However, these are not the only factors that have an important impact on a woman’s libido or sex life.
New research — by teams from the University of Sussex in Brighton, United Kingdom, University College London, also in the U.K., and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia — shows that the sex lives of many women decline with age due to psychological stressors and other psychosocial factors outside of their control.
The findings — which appear in the journal Menopause — are based on the data of 4,418 women with a median age of 64, all of whom participated in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) and completed related questionnaires about their sex lives and sexual health.
However, women also reported that many other factors affected the frequency of sex in their lives. By order of importance, these are:
- the fact that their partner had a medical condition that impacted their libido or sexual function
- a partner’s sexual dysfunction
- the woman’s own health issues
- physical symptoms related to menopause
- prescription medication affecting their own libido or sexual function
As for having a low libido, many women said that problems in their romantic relationships, the logistics of organizing sex, and the way in which aging affected their self-image and self-confidence usually caused this.
Only “a small minority (3%) reported optimistic and positive sexual experiences,” the researchers write in their paper. Also, “[1 in 8] women in [the] study experienced sexual problems, but only 2% referred to [hormone therapy],” the authors note.
Source: Medical News Today