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Middle-Aged Women Report Sex is Still Important

Update Date: Feb 11, 2014 10:56 AM EST

A new study found that sex remains very important for middle-aged women. During this time of a woman's life, going through menopause can greatly change the dynamics of sex. Regardless of these changes, women from their 40s to their mid-60s continue to stay sexually active.

In this study, the researchers recruited 354 middle-aged women. The women were asked to provide information regarding their menopausal states and physical health every year for four years. By the fourth year, the researchers also asked the women about their sexual activity, such as sex drive, orgasms, issues with arousal, vaginal dryness or pain during intercourse. The researchers followed up on the participants after another four years.

The researchers discovered that 85 percent of the women in the study continued to be sexually active and reported that sex was important to them. These women tended to be white and smaller, measured by their body mass index (BMI), which takes into account weight in relation to height.

"Women who felt that sex was highly important were about three times as likely to continue having sex as women who thought it was a little or not important," said study author Dr. Holly Thomas, a general internal medicine fellow at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine reported by Philly. "If you go into midlife still sexually active, chances are, you're going to continue to be sexually active."

The researchers were shocked to report that these women scored poorly on the Female Sexual Function Index, which included 19 questions about sexual issues. The researchers explained that these low scores could be due to the fact that intimacy during midlife could be very different and the tests did not accurately measure this new type of intimacy that places higher importance on kissing and touching. The researchers also stated that the research did not take into account the use of sexual aids such as lubricants that could be helping women overcome any physical discomfort arising from sex.

"There's this popular public perception that as women age, sex becomes unimportant, and that women just stop having sex as they get older," Thomas said reported by Reuters Health. "From our study, it looks like most women continue to have sex during midlife

The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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