It's a myth that women don't want sex as they age, study finds

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It's a long-held belief: Women lose interest in sex as they age. But over a fourth of women in midlife considered a healthy sex life very important, a new study has found.
(CNN) It's a myth that women lose interest in sex as they enter midlife and beyond, according to new research that followed over 3,200 women for approximately 15 years.

"About a quarter of women rate sex as very important, regardless of their age," said Dr. Holly Thomas, lead author of an abstract being presented during the 2020 virtual annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society, which opens on Monday, September 28.

"The study showed substantial numbers of women still highly value sex, even as they get older, and it's not abnormal," said Thomas, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

"If women are able to speak up with their partner and make sure that they're having sex that's fulfilling and pleasurable to them, then they're more likely to rate it as highly important as they get older," she said.

"That's actually quite refreshing, that there were a quarter of women for whom sex remains not just on the radar but highly important," said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for NAMS, who was not involved in the study.

"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," she said.

Myth busting

It's true that past studies have found that women tend to lose interest in sex as they age. But women's health practitioners say that attitude doesn't jibe with the reality they see.

"Some of the prior studies had suggested that sex goes downhill and all women lose interest in sex as they get older," Thomas said. "That really isn't the type of story that I hear from all my patients."

One issue, she said, is that past studies took a single snapshot of a woman's desire at one point in her life and compared that to similar snapshots in later decades of life.

"That type of longitudinal study would just show averages over time," Thomas said. "And if you look at things on average, it may look like everyone follows one…
Sandee LaMotte, CNN
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