Middle-aged women are actually more satisfied with their sex lives, despite it being commonly known that the menopause can result in vaginal dryness and low libido.
A new study from the University of Pittsburgh found that many women are adapting to changes in sexual function and, as a result, are experiencing better sex.
They reported having higher levels of self-confidence, increased self-knowledge and better communication skills as they age, which is all helping make sexy time even better.
The study, which will be presented at the Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) on 5 October, involved talking at length with three different focus groups comprising women aged 40 and over, and reviewing 20 interviews.
Researchers discovered that more women considered issues like lower libido and less sex to be caused by family and work stresses, instead of the menopause.
Some women said their partner played a part in this too, citing partner health problems, relationship issues or a partner’s sexual dysfunction as the reasons.
Several women added that their libidos were far higher than their male partners’.
Among the women who said their sex life had changed for the better, several noted that although they were having sex less, their sexual satisfaction had increased.
They attributed these positive changes to higher self-confidence, increased self-knowledge and better communication skills as they aged.
“One of the most enlightening findings of this study was the large number of women who had successfully adapted to any negative changes by modifying their expectations regarding sexual activity, putting more emphasis on the emotional and intimacy aspects of sex, or adapting the sex acts themselves,” says Holly Thomas, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study.
Ways in which women adapted to improve their sex lives included:
- Using vaginal lubricants
- Lengthening foreplay
- Incorporating other types of sex besides penetrative intercourse, such as “oral and manual stimulation”
- Trying new sexual positions
- Masturbating more
- Encouraging use of erectile dysfunction treatments for their partners
Dr JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS’ executive director, said: “As this study demonstrates, healthcare providers need to have honest conversations with their midlife women patients to fully evaluate changes in sexual function and be ready to explore psychosocial and interpersonal factors, as well as physical changes, to effectively identify proper treatment.”