Research Finds Women Actually Enjoy Sex Throughout Middle Age

Contrary to popular societal misconception, a woman's sex drive doesn't shrivel and die the second she turns 40

older couple lying in bed
Breaking: older women can still like sex.
Getty Images

Since the dawn of patriarchy, society has existed largely under the presumption that while men are perpetually, cartoonishly horny throughout the entirety of their lives, what little sexual appetite women exercise during the brief window of their child-bearing years vanishes the second they hit middle age.

This, according to new research, is a misconception, CNN reported. Analyzing data from a study following 3,200 women over a 15-year period, researchers found that many women continue to rate sex among their top priorities well into middle age and beyond.

“The study showed substantial numbers of women still highly value sex, even as they get older, and it’s not abnormal,” said Dr. Holly Thomas, lead author of an abstract being presented at this year’s annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society. “About a quarter of women rate sex as very important, regardless of their age.”

While the idea that women are capable of enjoying sex beyond the extremely brief window of time in which society sees them as sexually valuable shouldn’t come as particularly groundbreaking news, the new research contradicts previous studies that seemed to reinforce the misconception that women’s sex drives dwindle rapidly with age.

“Some of the prior studies had suggested that sex goes downhill and all women lose interest in sex as they get older,” said Thomas. However, she added, many of these studies suffered from flawed approaches and methodology that prevented them from yielding accurate results. Most past studies simply compared a woman’s sex drive at one point in her life to a later point, which Thomas says fails to evaluate the far more complex trajectory of sexual desire throughout a woman’s life.

“That type of longitudinal study would just show averages over time,” Thomas said. “And if you look at things on average, it may look like everyone follows one path.” Thomas’s research, however, used a different technique, searching for various pathways that may emerge in women’s sexuality throughout the course of their lives.

“We wanted to use this different type of technique to see if there really were these different patterns,” said Thomas. “When you look for these trajectories, you see there are significant groups of women who follow another path.”

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