Satisfying Sex Not Just for the Young
Study: Most Middle-Aged and Older Women Report Sexual Satisfaction
April 27, 2006 -- Many women aged 40 and older are satisfied with their sex
lives, a new study shows.
About 2,100 women aged 40-69 participated in the study. All were members of
the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program of Northern California and part of a
study on urinary incontinence.
The women completed a questionnaire about sexual activity, which was defined
as "any activity that is sexually arousing to you, including
The results, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, show that
most women were sexually active and fairly satisfied, at least, with their sex
lives. The researchers included Ilana Addis, MD, MPH, of the University of
Arizona Health Sciences Center.
Women's Sex Study
Here's how the researchers describe the participants:
- Average age: 55.
- Nearly 70% were married or in long-term relationships.
- 80% had some college education; 65% were employed.
- More than three-quarters had delivered at least one baby.
- 65% were postmenopausal.
- Most rated their health as being "very good/good" or
- Nearly half were white; the rest were closely split between blacks,
Hispanics, and Asian- Americans.
Findings from the study include:
- Nearly three-quarters of the women reported being sexually active.
- 60% of sexually active women reported sexual activity at least monthly in
the last year.
- Almost two-thirds of sexually active women said their sexual activity was
at least somewhat satisfying.
A third of sexually active women reported at least one of these problems:
lack of sexual interest, inability to relax and enjoy sexual activity,
difficulty in becoming aroused, and difficulty in having an orgasm.
Sexually Satisfied Women
Sexual satisfaction was more commonly reported by black women, women with
mass index (BMI), and women with higher scores on a mental healthtest.
Sexual activity was associated with younger age, higher education level,
significant relationship, nonsmoking, lower BMI, and moderate alcohol use.
Sexual dysfunction was linked to higher education level, poor health, and
significant relationship, the study shows. Women with high education levels may
have different stressors or different priorities and expectations about sexual
activity, write Addis and colleagues.
The researchers caution that their findings might not apply to other groups
"If a woman reports having a sexual life that is less than perfect, at
what point does she have sexual dysfunction?" asks Brenda Gierhart, MD, in
the editorial. Gierhart works for the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and
"I offer my opinion that the definition of female sexual dysfunction is
such a problem because female sexual dysfunction does not exist as a
diagnosis," Gierhart writes. "I believe that it is a spectrum of
disorders with extensive overlap between the disorders."
Gierhart states that people should "approach all female dysfunction
prevalence studies with caution until researchers accept a standard