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
"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
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
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