Most Women Remain Sexually Active into theirs 50s, 60s and Beyond. Interview with:
Holly Thomas, MD
General Internal Medicine Fellow, Women’s Health and Clinical Research
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Thomas: We found that, despite popular perception, the majority of women (85%) who are sexually active at midlife will remain sexually active four years later. We also found that the majority of women score low on a measure of sexual function. However, low sexual function scores did not mean women stopped having sex. In fact, the score on the sexual function measure did not predict whether women maintained sexual activity. Finally, we found that importance of sex was a strong predictor of whether women remained sexually active. Women who felt sex was moderately to extremely important in their lives were 3 times more likely to maintain sexual activity. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Thomas: We thought that low sexual function scores would mean women would stop having sex. Surprisingly, the majority of women remained sexually active regardless of their sexual function scores. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Thomas: Clinicians and patients should recognize that most women continue to be sexually active into their 50s, 60s, and beyond, and sex continues to be important to them. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Thomas: Prior research on female sexual function has mostly focused on physical symptoms, such as lubrication and pelvic pain. We believe that research on women’s sexuality should take a more holistic view and incorporate other aspects of sexual function, such as importance of sex, intimacy with one’s partner, and overall sexual satisfaction.


Importance of Sex Associated with Maintaining Sexual Activity for Midlife Women
Thomas HN, Chang CH, Dillon S, Hess R. Sexual activity in midlife women: Importance of sex matters. JAMA Internal Medicine. Forthcoming (accepted for publication) 2014.

Last Updated on January 7, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD