Half of Older Women Report Sexual Activity

Sexual desire decreases, but sexual satisfaction increases with age

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Half of older women report engaging in sexual activity within the previous month, with the majority reporting satisfaction with their sex life, according to a study published in the January issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

Susan E. Trompeter, M.D., of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues surveyed 1,303 women from the Rancho Bernardo Study with a mailed questionnaire on their general health, recent sexual activity, sexual satisfaction, and the Female Sexual Function Index. For 806 of 921 respondents who answered questions about recent sexual activity, the median age was 67 years (range 40 to 99 years), 63 percent were postmenopausal, and most were upper-middle class and in good health.

The researchers found that half (49.8 percent) of the 806 participants included in the study reported sexual activity within the past month with or without a partner, the majority of whom reported arousal (64.5 percent), lubrication (69 percent), and orgasm (67.1 percent) at least most of the time. Roughly one-third reported low, very low, or no sexual desire. Although frequency of arousal, lubrication, and orgasm decreased with age, the youngest (<55 years) and oldest (>80 years) women reported a higher frequency of sexual satisfaction. Overall, two-thirds of sexually active women reported being moderately or very satisfied with their sex life, as did almost half of sexually inactive women.

"Half these women were sexually active, with arousal, lubrication, and orgasm maintained into old age, despite low libido in one-third," the authors write.

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