One of the most frequent topics in women’s sexual health is the decline of sexual activity after menopause. Many women report that following this period, sex does not produce as satisfying a feeling as it used to be. Does the blame fall entirely on menopause?

According to new research, the hormonal changes resulting from menopause form part of the reason that women’s sexual activity declines with age. It acknowledges the fact that many symptoms affect women after menopause, including vaginal dryness, low libido or sexual desire, pain during intercourse, and more. These factors are underlying influences on the frequency and pleasure of sex.

Based on conclusions from the new study, there are a variety of complex reasons women stop wanting, enjoying, or having sex. While women traditionally have been blamed when sex declines in a relationship, the research shows that, often, it’s the health of a woman’s partner that influences the sexual activeness and satisfaction she experiences. (Most studies have focused entirely on heterosexual women, so less is known about same-sex couples after menopause.)

The latest study was published in the Menopause journal, and is based on the responses of over 24,00 women as part of an ovarian cancer screening study in Britain. The survey reported that 78 percent of women who responded reported that they had an intimate partner, but less than half reported having active sex lives. A primary reason cited was the loss of a partner to death or divorce, which accounted for 37 percent of the responses. An additional percentage of women reported that other responsibilities and situations in life made it difficult to make time for sex. Eight to nine percent reported that their partner or they themselves were too tired for sex. Partners with health issues were cited as an additional reason. About 23 percent of women reported that their partner’s physical problems accounted for a decline in sex.

Additional notes about the study can be featured in this New York Times news article:

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