Better Mental Health Tied to Satisfaction with Sexual Activity
> 4/26/2006 1:55:40 PM

New research that appears in this month's Obstetrics & Gynecology explores a topic that is rarely talked about: sexaul activity and function of middle-aged and older women. A team led by Dr. Ilana B. Addis of the University of Arizona examined survey data of over 2000 women between the ages of 40 and 69. Reuters reported on some of the findings:

Seventy-one percent of the women reported having sex in the past year, while 37% had sex monthly or less often and 33% had sex weekly or more frequently. One-third of sexually active women reported having some type of sexual dysfunction, including lack of interest in sex, inability to relax and enjoy sex, or difficulty in becoming aroused or having an orgasm.

Twenty-four percent of the sexually active women said sexual dysfunction was "somewhat of a problem" or "very much of a problem."

Richer or more highly educated women had more sex, the researchers found, while moderate alcohol consumption, lower body mass index and better health also were tied to more frequent sexual activity. Younger women and those in a significant relationship were also more likely to have sex more frequently.

Interestingly, better mental health was also found to be positively correlated to a greater degree of sexual satisfaction. The realm of mature women's sexuality has been covered from many angles in television and movies, ranging from the iconic Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate to the silly, inessential "Stifler's mom" in American Pie. Research like this however, is a lot more uncommon. The results themselves shouldn't be surprising to anyone; a satisfying sex life can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

While the group found that better mental health was correlated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction, there is room for improvement in the survey design. What isn't clear is if the lower rate of sexual satisfaction was actually caused by poorer mental health, or if some medication, SSRI's for example have sexual problems as a common side effect, could explain this disparity.

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