Menopause is never easy. But for 53-year-old Devika Khanna*, menopause not only played havoc with her mood but it almost brought her sex life to a standstill. After a lot of hesitation she visited a doctor to address the various issues she was facing. And when the doctor asked her the most-dreaded question on how frequently she makes love with her husband, she took a long pause before replying. When Devika replied that it was more than a year since she shared any intimate moments with her husband, her own words left her shocked.
But Devika was not alone, there are millions of women across the world who go through such dry spells in their sex life. And a recent study confirms their worst fear— the number of women regularly having sex declines with age and the number of women enjoying sex post-menopause is even lower.
The study published in ‘Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society’, examined how intimate relationships, health and psychological factors affect sexual intimacy and satisfaction in post-menopausal women. The researchers also studied how and why a woman's libido and level of sexual satisfaction decline during and after menopause.
"Sexual health challenges are common in women as they age, and partner factors play a prominent role in women's sexual activity and satisfaction," said Stephanie Faubion, Medical Director at the North American Menopause Society. "In addition, menopause-related problems such as vaginal dryness and pain with sex have been identified which affect sexual function, yet few women seek treatment for these issues despite the availability of effective therapies," added Faubion.
For the study, extensive research was conducted into biological reasons such as hot flashes, sleep disruption, vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. But, much less is known about the effect of various psycho-social changes that are common in post-menopause. These include body image concerns, self-confidence and perceived desirability, stress, mood changes and relationship issues.
A data of nearly 4,500 post-menopausal women involved in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening was studied and the findings showed that, before the start of annual screening, approximately half of the women were sexually active.
A decrease in all aspects of sexual activity was observed over time—sexual activity was less frequent, not as pleasurable and more uncomfortable. The primary reason for absence of sexual activity was the lack of a partner, mainly because of widowhood.
Other commonly cited reasons for decreased activity included a partner's medical condition, a partner's sexual dysfunction, the woman's own physical health problems, and menopause-related symptoms.
(With inputs from IANS)
(*name changed to protect privacy)