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Study Looks at Sex,
Romance in Older Women


Women in their late 20s and late 50s who do not live with a romantic partner have some surprising similarities and differences when it comes to their sex lives, a researcher said here this week.

Although women in both age groups appeared to have just as many dates, younger women reported more sex, sleeping next to a partner, kissing and affection.

However, the researchers found no statistically significant differences in how frequently the women reported masturbating, regardless of their age.

Among postmenopausal women, those who were not living with a romantic partner reported fewer instances of petting, affection and kissing, and, not surprisingly, of sleeping next to a partner compared to other women the same age who had a spouse or live-in partner.

And all postmenopausal women seemed to masturbate and have sex just as often as other women their age, regardless of whether or not they were living with a partner.

The study included 36 San Francisco women with an average age of 27 who were commuting to college, 32 highly-educated postmenopausal women living in Boston and 12 postmenopausal women of the same age living with a spouse or partner.

"What's surprising is that there is no difference in sexual intercourse (among postmenopausal women), whether they have a partner or not," study author Dr. Winnifred Cutler of the Athena Institute for Women's Wellness Research in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, told Reuters Health.

But there is much more to a woman's sexual life than how much sex she gets, Cutler noted, and "there's a big difference in how much petting and affection they get," depending on whether they cohabit or live alone.

The small study may not necessarily be representative of all women. Those included in the results were participating in another study designed to study whether wearing perfume that contains pheromones -- substances secreted by animals that can influence behavior and attract the opposite sex -- renders them more sexually attractive, Cutler explained.

"These are people who want more romance ... and that's why they're in this study," she said.

The current findings, collected before the researchers tested the effect of pheromones, suggest that whether or not a woman's life is filled with the romance she seeks depends greatly on her age and how she lives, Cutler noted.

"Older women don't get as much romance when they want romance as young women do when they want romance," she said.

These findings are not just fodder for curiosity, she noted. Previous research suggests that affection increases endorphin levels in the body, which has numerous effects in the body, including strengthening the immune system.

"It's not trivial to have affection in your life," she said. "And a romantic partner is one way to have that affection."

"I imagine having a puppy dog is another way," she said.

Given the importance of affection in a woman's life, should doctors broach the subject with their female patients? Perhaps, Cutler said, but with tact.

"I think to a physician who's looking at the whole woman, her well-being is a part of the whole woman. And her romantic life is part of her well-being," she said.

"It's always a question of not being intrusive, but caring," Cutler added. "These are subtle issues."

Cutler and her colleagues presented their findings Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Cutler conducted the study with colleagues from Harvard University and San Francisco State University.


Reference Source 89

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