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Sex in Menopause City

Study: Sexual Dysfunction in Women Is Not Automatic as Years Pass
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WebMD Health News

Nov. 19, 2004 -- Here's the disturbing fact you probably already know: As a woman ages and hormone levels drop, so too can her enjoyment of -- and oftentimes desire for -- sex.

Here's the good news: Though saying goodbye to hormones and sex may happen in the same breath, the latest research indicates that sexual desire has less to do with this change than it does with lifestyle and other health factors, at least some of which are under a woman's direct control.

These are the encouraging results reported by a group of distinguished European sex experts this month in the first ever supplement to Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.

"The findings have helped healthcare professionals discard the notion that sexual difficulties occurring close to menopause are either biologic or physiologic," writes Rosemary Basson, FRCP, a professor of psychiatry and of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia and guest editor of the special issue.

The new research was part of a series of studies conducted on female sexual dysfunction by the department of clinical psychiatry and psychotherapy at Hannover Medical School in Hannover, Germany. As part of the overall project, 102 women aged 20 to "45 plus" answered 165 queries designed to flush out determinants of female sexual satisfaction.

Specifically, researchers hoped to determine satisfaction with sex life in general, sexual satisfaction and orgasm during intercourse, petting, masturbation, attitudes towards sexuality, quality of partnership, and sexual myths.

What the study found: There appeared to be no age differences with respect to frequency of sexual intercourse or the desire for sexual activity not involving intercourse among the differing age groups.

Moreover, age did not make a difference in regard to frequency of orgasm or in sexual satisfaction ratings with their partners. For example, 29% of women up to age 45 reported having orgasms "very often," compared with 26% of women over age 45.

Even more dramatic was that while 41% of women over age 45 reported having orgasms "often," only 29% of younger women reported having orgasm "often."

Among the few differences in the groups: Women over 45 reported having fewer orgasms during non-intercourse sexual activity or during masturbation. Both groups of women reported a dual dimension necessary for successful lovemaking that included having both feelings of emotional closeness to their partner and satisfactory physical experiences.

After comparing all the answers from both older and younger women, as well as from women who reported sexual problems and those who did not, researchers concluded that the single most influential factor with regard to sexual satisfaction via intercourse was the quality of the partnership, in particular the quality of mutual respect, which then becomes of greater importance as a woman ages.

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