As women move into the twilight years their sexual appetite can be hampered by the emotional and physical perils of old age.
And while most men may keep their libido well into retirement, the female gender must navigate a maze of discomfort, confusion and scary medical issues.
Painful intercourse and bladder problems do take a toll on the sex drive of older women, but the real solution can be a question of mind over matter, Australian sex and relationship therapist Cyndi Darnell told FEMAIL.
‘If our motivations for having sex aren’t clear and we rely on something as flimsy as “horniness”, then there is a real possibility that will never come,’ Cyndi said.
After menopause is the worst period of a woman’s life for losing interest in sexual intercourse, the findings revealed (Stock image)
‘Women need to communicate and know that they don’t have to default to penis and vagina sex. If there’s not enough touching, arousal, stimulation, lubricant, then it just won’t work.’
After menopause is the worst period of a woman’s life for losing interest in sexual intercourse, a survey which interviewed 1500 under the age of 55 found.
Intimate medical symptoms during or after sex were the main biological culprits behind many women’s weakening libido – with ‘bladder leaks, urgency, or too frequent urination’ noted by seven percent and 26 percent stating their sexual inactivity was ‘due to vulvovaginal dryness, irritation, or pain’.
And a worrying 24 percent blamed dyspareunia – which is painful intercourse triggered by medical or psychological reasons – as the cause of their sexual disinterest.
‘If our motivations for having sex aren’t clear and we rely on something as flimsy as “horniness”, then there is a real possibility that will never come,’ sex and relationship therapist Cyndi Darnell (pictured) said
Nearly half of the women surveyed admitted to having zero sexual activity in the six months leading up to the study (Stock image)
WHAT IS DYSPAREUNIA?
Dyspareunia is the term used to describe pain before, during or after vaginal intercourse.
There are many causes of dyspareunia including physical ones like not enough lubrication, a skin infection, illness or surgery.
Psychological causes like partner issues, stress and anxiety can contribute also and make it even worse.
However Cyndi says more often than not the problem is not physical, but an emotional response to sex.
‘Psychological barriers such as a history of trauma, pain, knowing that it might lead to arguments or feelings of shame can ruin a woman’s libido,’ she explained.
‘And partner sex is so much more diverse and complicated than simply satisfying horny feelings. To think of it this way is very old-fashioned and out-of-date.’
The sex therapist also says the mature women she deals with are nothing like the ‘sexless old hags’ which society paints them as.
‘They aren’t running around like 20-something year olds but the notion of the sexless hag is not how women experience themselves,’ Cyndi added.
‘Fertility has never been the main motivation for sex. Procreation is just a byproduct, and for most the impetus to have sex is to feel good and to connect.’
The medicinal study also revealed 45 per cent of participants said they experienced severe physical pain during sex – a problem which can be contributed to vaginal dryness.
While most men may keep their libido well into retirement the female gender must navigate a maze of discomfort, confusion and scary medical issues (Stock image)
Another 20 percent of the women confessed to fearing vulvovaginal atrophy symptoms during sex, which is the thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to the female body having less estrogen.
Nearly half of the women surveyed admitted to having zero sexual activity in the six months leading up to the study.
Surprisingly, most women reported they did not have a ‘disinterest’ in sex with their partners and actively want to keep the passion burning, however simply avoid it out of fear they would feel pain.
But problems behind extinguished sexual flames between many older couples aren’t exclusive to the female sex.
In addition to self-reported issues with sexual intercourse, a staggering 55 per cent of women revealed their own partner’s ‘lack of interest or physical inability’ was negatively impacting their sex drive.
‘For men, being able to perform sexually ties into their masculinity,’ Cyndi said.
‘And because we live in a culture which values this so much, female pleasure is then historically forgotten about.’