CLEVELAND, Ohio — There’s a common belief that people lose interest in sex as they age. A new study finds this isn’t exactly true for many middle-aged women. Researchers say sex still remains important to the daily lives of over 70 percent of women entering midlife.
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) shows 27 percent of women continue to rate sex as a high priority throughout midlife. The report looks at more than 3,200 participants in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Researchers find nearly half (45 percent) view love-making as important early on during midlife, but then decreases over time. Only 28 percent of women say sex is of low importance throughout these years.
“In contrast to prior literature reporting that the importance of sex decreases as women move through midlife, we found that, for a quarter of women, sex remains highly important to them throughout midlife,” says Dr. Holly Thomas from the University of Pittsburgh in a media release.
How menopause impacts importance of sex
Researchers looked at a number of different factors which may affect how women view sex while going through menopause. This period marks the natural decline of reproductive hormones, typically occurring during a woman’s 40s or 50s.
Aside from menopause symptoms like hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and vaginal dryness, study authors also focus on other factors. They include race, education, weight, blood pressure, depression symptoms, stress, medication usage, sexual orientation, and partner status.
The study reveals respondents experiencing depression are more likely to see sex as not important. Females experiencing high levels of satisfaction with their sex lives continue to rate it as important in middle age. Those with high levels of education tend to view sex as more important to them as well.
Researchers also note differences during midlife which tie to the ethnicity of the participants. Black women are more likely to rate sex as highly important through middle age however, Chinese and Japanese participants report it’s not important or their interests drops more with age.
“Studies like these provide valuable insights to healthcare providers who may otherwise dismiss a woman’s waning sexual desire as a natural part of aging,” says NAMS medical director Dr. Stephanie Faubion. “Often there are other treatable reasons, such as vaginal dryness or depression, as to why a woman’s interest in sex may have decreased.”
The report is being presented during the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society.