February 12, 2014
Middle Age, Menopause And Sexual Dysfunction Don’t Stop Women From Having Sex
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Even middle age women who have been diagnosed with sexual dysfunction continue to be sexually active, according to a new study.
Researchers studied 354 middle-aged and older women who had taken a test called the Female Sexual Function Index. This test is designed to diagnose women’s sexual problems, asking questions about arousal, orgasm, vaginal lubrication and pain during intercourse. All of the women had reported being sexually active at the start of the study.
For four years the team checked in on the women and asked about their menopausal status and physical health, as well as their sexual function. After the end of this period, the team found that 85 percent of these women, all from Pittsburgh, were still sexually active despite showing signs of sexual dysfunction.
"There's this popular public perception that as women age, sex becomes unimportant, and that women just stop having sex as they get older," lead author Dr. Holly Thomas told Reuters Health. "From our study, it looks like most women continue to have sex during midlife. It may be detrimental to label a woman as sexually dysfunctional.”
Thomas said that women who felt that sex was highly important were about three times as likely to continue having sex as a women who thought it was a little or not important. She said one thing to consider about the test is that after menopause, women place a higher priority on kissing and touching than on intercourse, and this study didn’t look into that.
"I think it resonates with what many of us have thought all along," Dr. Margery Gass, an obstetrician/gynecologist at the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio, told WebMD. "The quality of sexual activity for women as they age is much more than the sum of the various physical function components. That's not to say that there aren't some women who aren't having a very difficult time, but there are things that can be done for that.”
Dr. Camellia Davtyan, Director of women's health at the UCLA Comprehensive Health Program, told Reuters that there needs to be a better instrument than the sexual-function index to diagnose an older woman’s sexual dysfunction.
"A lot of our patients continue to have sex even if they have low libido or vaginal dryness," she said. "It's just that they need help."