Women grow increasingly satisfied with their sex lives after they turn 40, a new study suggests.
For some, that heightened satisfaction comes from having great sex; for others, it stems from the fact that while their sexual activity has decreased, so has their desire, the survey showed.
The researchers surveyed a group of women between ages 40 and 100, with a median age of 67. Half of the responders said they were sexually active, and most of those women said they were able to become aroused, maintain lubrication and achieve orgasm during sex, even after the age of 80.
Moreover, among sexually active women, those who were below age 55 or above 80 were the most likely to report satisfaction with their ability to achieve orgasms.
"I was surprised by how many people were completely satisfied over the age of 80," said study researcher Elizabeth Barrett-Connor. The number of women who weren't sexually active but still expressed satisfaction surprised her as well. "I think there's a whole range of reasons people might be sexually satisfied," she said.
The study was published in the January issue of the American Journal of Medicine.
The benefits of trust
The study was the first of its size to focus exclusively on the sex lives of healthy women, a shift from previous efforts that had centered on studying women with sexual dysfunction, or tested the effects of hormone therapy on women's sex lives, Barrett-Connor said.
The researchers mailed a questionnaire to 1,303 women who had participated in the Rancho Bernardo Study, a survey of people in a suburban California community that has been ongoing since 1972. Of these women, 806 responded to questions about sex, "a very high participation rate for a study that asks very personal questions," Barrett-Connor said. "We have been studying this population for many years, and they trust us."
More than half of all women surveyed said they were very or moderately satisfied with their sex life. The percentage of women who described themselves as sexually satisfied increased with age. Almost half of the women over age 80 said they were always or almost always sexually satisfied.