Researchers found that nearly 90 percent of women over 70 in the
study had low sexual desire and a much smaller proportion were
distressed about it. The combination of low desire and related
distress is known as hypoactive sexual desire dysfunction (HSDD) and
nearly 14 percent of women had it.
Older people are increasingly remaining sexually active and sexual
wellbeing is important to them, said senior author Susan R. Davis of
Monash University in Melbourne.
“This is probably because people for this age are healthier now than
people of this age in past decades,” Davis told Reuters Health by
A random national sample of women ages 65 to 79 was contacted by
phone and invited to take part in a women’s health study. Those who
agreed received questionnaires asking about demographic data,
partner status and health history, including menopausal symptoms,
vaginal dryness, pelvic floor dysfunction, depression symptoms,
sexual activity and sexual distress.
Of the 1,548 women who completed and returned the questionnaires,
about half were married or partnered, 43 percent had pelvic surgery
and 26 percent had cancer of some kind. About a third had menopausal
symptoms and one in five had vaginal dryness during intercourse.
In the entire sample, 88 percent reported having low sexual desire,
15.5 percent had sex-related personal distress, and women with both,
who qualified for HSDD, made up 13.6 percent of the group, as
reported in Menopause.
That’s lower than has been reported for this age group in the past,
and similar to how many women report HSDD at midlife, Davis noted.
“Considering how conservative women of this age are, we were
surprised that over 85 percent of the women completed all the
questions on desire and sexual distress so we could actually assess
this on most of the study participants,” Davis said.
Vaginal dryness, pelvic floor dysfunction, moderate to severe
depressive symptoms and having a partner were all associated with a
higher likelihood of HSDD. Sexually active women, partnered or not,
more often had HSDD than others.
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“We would never label women with low/diminished sex drive as having
HSDD,” Davis said. “In our study 88 percent had low desire and only
13.6 percent had HSDD, this is because low desire is not an issue if
you are not bothered by it.”
Vaginal dryness, associated with HSDD in this study, can easily
treated by low dose vaginal estrogen which is effective and safe,
HSDD was also associated with urinary incontinence, depressive
symptoms and hot flashes and sweats, she said.
“Even talking about the problem with a health care professional who
is interested and sympathetic is a good start,” Davis said.
“Conversely health care professionals need to realize that many
older women remain sexually active and do care about this issue.”
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2f4uAXW Menopause, online November 7, 2016
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