It is commonly known that the quality and quantity of sex declines for women after menopause. Most of the research on the subject focuses on biological causes only. However, a new study published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), challenges this assumption by examining the psychosocial factors at play.

What contributes to the decline of sex post-menopause?

There are many factors that contribute to the decline of sex, both physical and mental. The study asked women involved in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening to discuss their sex lives, and their responses give an insight into what factors impede sex as one ages, including:

  • Lack of a partner. As women age, they face an increased probability that their spouse or partner will die, and it can be difficult to find a new sexual partner.
  • A partner’s medical condition. Many women in the study mentioned that their husbands are on medication that inhibits their libido. Their partner may also be mentally or physically unable to have sex.
  • Fatigue. Many women feel an obligation to care for their children or other loved ones at the expense of their mental well-being.
  • Relationship problems. If a woman is trapped in an unhappy relationship, those problems will only compound over time.
  • Lack of interest. Some women simply lose interest in sex, and may feel guilty about it.

A happy, fulfilling sex life is possible well into old age. One woman, age 59, emphasizes, “I find my sexual life has never been better… It is very much the reason for my happiness, contentment, and well-being.” But many women face an increasing series of obstacles to a satisfying sex life as they age, changes that have more to do with mental and social factors than biology.

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