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Sexual Interest Commonly Dips After 50

But More Women Are Fanning Libido's Flame, Asking for What They Want
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WebMD Health News

Oct. 7, 2002 -- If sex is the last thing on your mind, you're not alone. About one-third of menopausal women have no interest in intercourse.

S. R. Leiblum, PhD, a psychiatric researcher with the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J., presented these findings at the 13th annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society held in Chicago last week.

In their study of the issue, Leiblum and colleagues tabulated results from surveys completed by more than 2,000 women between ages 20 and 70. They found that among the menopausal-age women, from 29% to 34% had no interest in sex, and about 50% were quite concerned about their waning libido, reports Leiblum.

One expert is "surprised" by the high numbers of "concerned women" that Leiblum reports.

"These women would be baby boomers, women who grew up in the middle of the sexual revolution," says Nancy Fugate Woods, PhD, dean of nursing and an epidemiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. "We learned to talk about sex openly -- with each other and with our partners. I would expect these women to be more assertive about what they wanted in a relationship, more able to negotiate what they wanted."

But a woman's sex life -- her libido -- is very complex, and not just a factor of age, Woods tells WebMD. "It's about her life situation, about her career, her relationship with her partner. "Is she stressed about family issues? Is she having a lot of distress about hot flashes? Is it her life that's affecting her libido, more than hormones?"

Also, the women may be reacting to their partner's waning lack of interest - possibly due to his own sexual problems -- and therefore they initiate sex less often. That's quite normal, she says. And in long-term relationships, it's only natural that the passion dwindles over the years.

"It could be that, like hot flashes, loss of sexual interest is simply more bothersome and disruptive for a minority of women," Fugate tells WebMD. -->

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