Sex in Menopause City
Study: Sexual Dysfunction in Women Is Not Automatic as Years Pass
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
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
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