Researchers found after surverying almost 4,500 women over age 50 that less than 25% were sexually active, and while a primary reason wanting a partner – mostly because of widowhood – other reason’s include a partner’s sexual dysfunction and the woman’s own physical and/or mental health problems.
Lead author Helena Harder from the University of Sussex in the UK said the core message of the study was that health is a major factor for continued sexual activity and satisfaction in older age, but support can be hindered by a lack of communication between healthcare professionals and women and their partners.
Half of the women in the survey were 64 and older, and in the comments they talked about issues like menopause symptoms as obstacles to sexual activity, including the following:
- vaginal dryness and painful sex
- body insecurity
- lack of sex drive (libido)
- medical conditions/sexual dysfunction in partners
Harder commented on the stigma around aging and sexuality, and that conversations about sex between doctors and patients can helpful but difficult: “We know that aging in and of itself is not a barrier to healthy sexual activity and there are things that can be done to ensure this is maintained.”
On that note, Harder would like to see healthcare providers be more proactive in bringing up the subject with women: “This could ‘open the door’ for women – and their partners – and might invite them to talk more openly about possible changes or concerns associated with aging and/or menopause.”
Story from Reuters.
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