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Satisfying Sex Not Just for the Young

Study: Most Middle-Aged and Older Women Report Sexual Satisfaction
WebMD Health News

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 masturbation."

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 "excellent."
  • 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 lower body 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 of women.

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