How Important Is Sex For Women Over 40? Study Reveals The Answer
People tend to assume the worst about aging. Low energy, low libido, and a total lack of sex drive are often associated with growing older. Despite common societal myths, a study from The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) proves that midlife and beyond doesn't have to be sexless—and many women don't want it to be.
The research, which is being presented at the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of NAMS, found one-quarter of women are still interested in sex throughout midlife, and nearly half (45%) of women are interested in sex early in midlife.
Sex after 40: What women want.
Many studies have shown that the way women value sex is highly associated with sexual function. Vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful sex, and a decrease of estrogen levels, which can decrease libido, are two common menopause symptoms that have led to this belief that women in midlife simply don't want sex. And it's simply not true.
To debunk this myth, researchers studied more than 3,200 women to find out how their sex drives changed or stayed steady throughout the menopause transition. These were their three main findings:
- About 45% of women said sex was important early in midlife and became less important over time.
- For 27% of women, sex remained highly important throughout midlife.
- For 28% of women, sex was not very important during midlife.
"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," study author Holly Thomas, M.D., M.S., said in a news release. Moreover, women who saw sex as important to them tended to have higher sexual satisfaction as well.
Since the desire is still very much there for many women, finding ways to work around these natural bodily changes can make sex more pleasurable. For example, finding the right natural lubricant, building up sexual energy (aka simmering) to increase desire, or trying any of these gynecologist-approved ways to have better sex in your 40s, 50s, and beyond.
The bottom line.
"Studies like these provide valuable insights to health care providers who may otherwise dismiss a woman's waning sexual desire as a natural part of aging," says NAMS medical director Stephanie Faubion, M.D., MBA. "Often there are other treatable reasons, such as vaginal dryness or depression, as to why a woman's interest in sex may have decreased."
Getting to the bottom of why sexual desire and satisfaction has waned can help women find helpful interventions to make sex better, no matter the age.
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Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.