It's a myth that women don't want sex as they age, study reveals
It's a myth that women lose interest in sex as they enter middle age and beyond. This is the result of a research where more than 3200 women were studied for about 15 years.
"About a quarter of women rate sex as very important, regardless of their age," said Dr. Holly Thomas, lead author of the study.
"The study showed that a significant number of women still highly value sex, even as they get older, and that's not abnormal at all," she added.
It's true that past studies have found that women tend to lose interest in sex as they age.
"Some of the previous studies had suggested that sex goes downhill and all women lose interest in sex as they get older," Thomas said. "That's really not the kind of story I hear from all my patients," she added.
How do feelings about sex change over time?
The research, which analyzed data from a national study called SWAN, or the Nationwide Study of Women's Health, found three distinct pathways in a woman's feelings about the importance of sex.
About a quarter of women (28%) followed traditional thinking on the subject. They valued sex less during their middle-aged years.
However, another quarter of the women in the study said the exact opposite. Some 27% said that sex remains very important throughout their 40s, 50s and 60s - a surprising contradiction to the belief that all women lose interest in sex as they age.
"Sex will look different," said Faubion, director of the Mayo Center for Women's Health. "It will not look the same in the 40s and in the 20s. It won't look the same in the 60s and the 40s, and it won't look the same in the 80s and the 60s," she said.
The women in the study who valued sex highly shared the following characteristics: They were more educated, were less stressed, and had experienced greater sexual satisfaction before entering middle age.
"Women who had more satisfying sex in their 40s were more likely to continue to rate sex highly as they got older," Thomas said.
There may also be socioeconomic factors at play. For example, more educated women may have higher incomes and feel more stable in their lives with less stress.
"So they have more room to make sex a priority because they're not worrying about other things," Thomas said.