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A large study published published in the journal Menopause, finds that older women are mostly quite satisfied with their sexual health. If they have a problem, it's because they lack a partner or would like to have more sex, not less. Reseaerchers found that 60% of women age 50 to 59 were sexually active, as well as almost 50% of women in their 60s and 28% of those in their 70s.
Sexual desire disorder in women is supposedly a significant problem in the United States, according to some studies and various companies that market products designed to improve women's sex lives. But a large study published this week finds that older women are mostly quite satisfied with their sexual health. If they have a problem, it's because they lack a partner or would like to have more sex, not less.
The data are from the Women's Health Initiative, famous for its investigation into the effects of hormone therapy on post-menopausal women. The 27,347 women in the survey, however, were asked about their sexual activity and sexual health during the study. The review, published in the journalMenopause, found that 60% of women age 50 to 59 were sexually active, as well as almost 50% of women in their 60s and 28% of those in their 70s.
About two-thirds of the women said they were satisfied with their current sexual activity. Among those who were dissatisfied, 57% said they preferred more sexual activity. For those women who were not sexually active, the most common cause was lack of a partner, not disinterest or personal health problems.
The study also confirmed other research indicating that the decline in hormones at menopause does not interfere with most women's ability to maintain a satisfactory sex life.
Gass, Margery L.S.; Cochrane, Barbara B.; Larson, Joseph C.; Manson, JoAnn E.; Barnabei, Vanessa M.; Brzyski, Robert G.; Lane, Dorothy S.; LaValleur, June; Ockene, Judith K.; Mouton, Charles P.; Barad, David H.
Menopause., POST EDITOR CORRECTIONS, 1 October 2011
Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the patterns and predictors of sexual activity in the Hormone Therapy (HT) Trials of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI).
Methods: Sexual activity questions were administered to 27,347 women ages 50 to 79 years at baseline and at year 1 and to a random 8.6% subsample at years 3 and 6. The associations with demographic and health characteristics were determined.
Results: Sexual activity at baseline was 60.7%, 44.9%, and 28.2% in the 50- to 59-, 60- to 69-, and 70- to 79-year-old age groups, respectively. Most of the participants were satisfied with their current sexual activity (63.2%). Of those dissatisfied, 57% preferred more sexual activity. Vaginal atrophy correlated with sexual inactivity at baseline (P < 0.001). The correlates associated with stopping sexual activity at year 1 included poor/fair self-rated health, lack of satisfaction with quality of life, depression, and loss of partner (P < 0.001). The strongest predictor of sexual activity at year 1 was sexual activity at baseline (odds ratio, 96.71; 95% CI, 81.90-114.20). A subset analysis of women adherent with HT or placebo at years 3 and 6 suggested that HT was associated with a higher percentage of participants reporting sexual activity (P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Most women in the WHI HT Trials were satisfied with their sexual activity. Of those who were dissatisfied, the majority preferred more, rather than less, sexual activity. Vaginal atrophy at baseline correlated with sexual inactivity, and sexual activity at baseline was the strongest identified predictor of sexual activity at year 1. HT use was not predictive of ongoing sexual activity in the intent-to-treat analysis. This report further characterizes the participants in the WHI HT trials and reveals the complexity of factors related to the prevalence of sexual activity and satisfaction.