While 71% of adults age 50-70 expect to have less sex as they age because of decreased desire and physical ability, the common perception that older men have more sex-related problems is incorrect, according to the “Sex, Menopause & Relationship” survey from Duramed Pharmaceuticals and conducted by Harris Interactive.
In fact, more women (67%) than men (59%) actually report experiencing symptoms that affect their ability to have sex. Women also are less prepared than men for the physical changes associated with menopause that could affect their sex lives. Fully 65% of women (compared with 51% of men) who experienced menopause-induced sexual symptoms report they did not anticipate such symptoms, the survey found.
“The survey reveals a knowledge gap about the challenges women and men experience as they age,” said David B. Schwartz, MD, practicing Obstetrics & Gynecology at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The majority of people surveyed believe men are more likely to experience sexual symptoms than women. This may be due to the volume and ease of accessibility to information about erectile dysfunction. Conversely, most women face sexual symptoms as they go through menopause, with less information readily available to them.”
More than half (55%) of respondents say sex is important to their overall relationship satisfaction, nearly half (47%) would prefer to have sex more often, and 83% of those who have sex at least once a month are satisfied with their relationships. However, nearly four in ten adults (38%) have avoided sex, made an excuse not to have sex or stopped having sex due to physical inability, physical discomfort, or pain with sex.
Reasons for sex-avoidance vary by gender. Women cite discomfort and pain as top reasons, while men avoid sex because of physical inability, according to Duramed and Harris.
- Among female respondents who report experiencing menopause-induced sexual symptoms, vaginal dryness (72%), low libido (70%) and pain with sex (34%) are the top symptoms.
- Among male respondents who report experiencing sexual symptoms,? inability to sustain an erection (82%),? to get an erection (50%) and low libido (27%) are the most common symptoms.
- Of those who report experiencing symptoms, nearly two-thirds (63%) of women and (59%) of men have sought treatment. 51% of men seeking treatment reported seeking prescription medication for erectile dysfunction while 55% of women seeking treatment reported use of over-the-counter lubricants, creams or herbal supplements.
- Among those who experience symptoms and sought treatment, women (66%) are more likely than men (57%) to say their sex life is not more active at all.
- Of men and women with symptoms who have discussed their symptoms with their partners, a majority (75%) reported overall satisfaction in their relationships.
About the survey: Harris Interactive conducted the online survey in the US between June 25, 2008 and July 1, 2008 among 705 U.S. adults aged 50-70 who are in heterosexual relationships with partners aged 50-70. Of the 705 survey participants, 354 were female and 351 were male. Results for both groups were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.