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Stresses of life more likely to affect sex lives of middle-aged women than menopause, study says

Stresses of modern life are more likely to affect sex lives of middle-aged women than menopause, study says

  • Few women linked menopause to the frequency or quality of their sexual activity
  • Women’s lives were so busy that they had little time or energy for a sex life

The stresses of modern life are more likely to affect the sex lives of middle-aged women than menopause, new research published in the Journal of Sex Research suggest.

The study of over 2,000 women discovered that very few women linked their menopause to a reduction in the frequency or quality of their sexual activity. 

Instead, women claimed that the weight of pressure put on middle-aged women left them so busy that they left little time or energy to enjoy a regular and satisfying sex life, News Medical reported.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the University of Glasgow and UCL interviewed women who noted the burden their hectic schedules, and the challenges of combining family, work, and social lives had on them.

They spoke of the financial and relationship difficulties, worries about family members, and the simultaneous demands of children and ageing parents, both needing practical help and emotional support and neither contributing greatly to a reduction in workload or stress. 

The study of over 2,000 women published in the Journal of Sex Research discovered that very few women linked their menopause to a reduction in the frequency or quality of their sexual activity (stock image)

The study of over 2,000 women published in the Journal of Sex Research discovered that very few women linked their menopause to a reduction in the frequency or quality of their sexual activity (stock image) 

The research found that women’s lives were so busy that they left little time or energy to enjoy a regular and satisfying sex life. 

Out of over 2,000 women aged between 40 and 59 who were interviewed, a third had not had sex in the past month and less than half were dissatisfied with their sex lives.

The survey concluded that age and menopausal status were less significant in determining levels of sexual satisfaction, function, and frequency than relationship and lifestyle factors and health status.

Kaye Wellings, Lead Author and Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health Research at LSHTM said: ‘Few studies have taken women’s views into account in trying to understand the range of factors influencing sexual experience in middle age. 

‘The decline in frequency needs to be set in the context of social change as well as individual circumstances.’

She highlighted the impact of the ‘double caring duties’ that middle-aged women face as they are often responsible for providing care for children and parents.

Kaye added: ‘Women in middle-age today are often dubbed the ‘sandwich generation’ – they’ve married and had children later than previous generations, they’re working, and they may find themselves supporting both dependent children and elderly parents, while possibly coping with emerging health issues.’

The research was undertaken with the hope that the findings would provide reassurance to women during this period of their lives. 

The said author said: ‘Frequency of sex bears little relation with satisfaction with sex lives suggests that intimacy may be a more important factor in determining sexual wellbeing – a message that health care workers might beneficially convey to women.’

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