The January issue of The American Journal of Medicine has published a new study, which reveals that sexual satisfaction in sexually active older women increases with age, whilst those who are not sexually active are satisfied with their sex lives. According to the study, most of the study participants report frequent arousal and orgasm, which continue into old age despite low sexual desire.
In the study, researchers from the University of California at the San Diego School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System assessed reports of 806 women with an average age of 67 years in terms of their sexual activity and satisfaction. 63% of the women were postmenopausal. All of the women were part of the Rancho Bernardo Study (RBS) cohort, living in a planned community near San Diego; their health has been tracked for medical research for 40 years.
For their study, the researchers measured various factors, including how many women were currently sexually active, the characteristics linked to sexual activity, such as demographics, health, and hormone use, their frequency of arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and pain during sexual intercourse, as well as the women's sexual desire and satisfaction.
According to the findings, half of the respondents reported that they have a partner and had been sexually active within the last 4 weeks, however, the likelihood of sexual activity declined with age. Whilst 67.1% of sexually active women reported to achieve an orgasm most of the time or always, the youngest and oldest study participants reported the highest frequency of orgasm satisfaction.
The researchers found that 40% of all women reported to never or almost never felt sexual desire, whilst one third of the sexually active women reported low sexual desire. According to leading researcher Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD, Distinguished Professor and Chief at the Division of Epidemiology and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California and San Diego School of Medicine:
"Despite a correlation between sexual desire and other sexual function domains, only 1 in 5 sexually active women reported high sexual desire. Approximately half of the women aged 80 years or more reported arousal, lubrication, and orgasm most of the time, but rarely reported sexual desire. In contrast with traditional linear model in which desire precedes sex, these results suggest that women engage in sexual activity for multiple reasons, which may include affirmation or sustenance of a relationship."
61% of the participating women stated that they were satisfied with their overall sex life irrespective of whether they had a partner or were sexually active. The researchers noted that even though older age is being known as an important predictor of low sexual satisfaction, the percentage of women in the RBS study who reported being sexually satisfied actually increased with age.
About half of the women over 80 years stated that they always or almost always achieved sexual satisfaction. Furthermore, researchers noted that not only were the oldest women in the study the most satisfied overall, those who stated to have been sexually active recently also reported to have experienced orgasm satisfaction rates similar to those of the youngest participants.
First author Susan Trompeter, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine and Staff Physician at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, stated:
"In this study, sexual activity was not always necessary for sexual satisfaction. Those who were not sexually active may have achieved sexual satisfaction through touching, caressing, or other intimacies developed over the course of a long relationship."
Trompeter concludes stating that:
"Emotional and physical closeness to the partner may be more important than experiencing orgasm. A more positive approach to female sexual health focusing on sexual satisfaction may be more beneficial to women than a focus limited to female sexual activity or dysfunction."
Written by Petra Rattue