Sexuality in Older Women

By Roosevelt, Edith Kermit | Nutrition Health Review, Fall 1990 | Go to article overview

Sexuality in Older Women


Roosevelt, Edith Kermit, Nutrition Health Review


Sexuality in Older Women

Many more older women could fulfill their legitimate need for romantic intimacy were it not for "cultural biases against female sexuality in male-dominated societies."

This is the finding of Arshag D. Mooradian, M.D., and Vicki Geiff, M.D., of the Division of Restorative Medicine and Department of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine at Tucson. Writing in the May 1989 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, these physicians say that when older women are free of disease and have a sexually active and able partner, their sexual behavior and/or interest does not necessarily decline with age.

"Some changes in physiological indicators of sexual function, such as vaginal blood flow, are the result of estrogen deficiency, and as such are essentially reversible," the physicians note. However, getting such problems diagnosed and addressed is not easy where, despite evidence to the contrary, the elderly female's lack of interest in, or capacity for, sexual expression is considered "normal." According to Mooradian and Greiff:

"Although sexual activity generally declines with age, the proportion of elderly women who retain sexual desire and are sexually active is remarkable. This is especially true for married persons."

Studies from Duke University, Durham, N.C., have found that 47% of married women between 67 and 71 years of age are sexually active, and of those above the age of 78 years, up to 29% are sexually active.

The medical researchers also refer to findings that show that sexual interest is maintained in 50% of all women between 66 and 71 years of age, although reported sexual dreams occur in only 19% at 65 years of age compared with 27% at 50 years.

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