Women want less sex as they get older but it's quality that matters – even in their 80s
Study of older women revealed high sexual activity not always necessary for sexual satisfaction

Women want less sex as they get older – but the sex they do have is a lot more satisfying, according to new research.

As they head beyond middle age it seems the quality rather than the quantity is what matters, say scientists from the University of California, San Diego.

That may be because sex for the older woman can be about being in a loving relationship as much as it is about pure animal instincts, they suggest.

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Surprising survey: Up to 40 per cent of the women said they rarely felt like having sex but 60 per cent were happy with this

Researchers studied the sex lives of 806 ‘older women’ whose average age was 67 but included some in their 80s.

The women from San Diego, California, were tracked as part of a much wider study into female health for up to 40 years.

The team, led by Professor Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, found that the desire for sex reduces with age, particularly for women who have gone through the menopause, making them less sexually active.

Up to 40 per cent of the women said they rarely felt like having sex while even a third of those with more ‘active’ sex lives admitted they often had a low sex drive.

Yet among them all there was a surprisingly high proportion (61 per cent) who said that they were happy with their sex lives, even if they were not having sex regularly.

Further, more delicate questioning, revealed that up to two thirds (67 per cent) of older women reach orgasm most or every time they have sex.

But their satisfaction may be higher because they enjoy both a ‘physical and emotional closeness’ to their partner, according to the study published in the American Journal of Medicine.

This applied to both the youngest and oldest of those taking part in the study by the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine.

Professor Barrett-Connor said sex was less frequent with age, desire was lower but satisfaction increased with age.

She said: 'In contrast with traditional models in which desire precedes sex, these results suggest women engage in sexual activity for multiple reasons which may include affirmation or sustenance of a relationship.'

She added: 'In this study, sexual activity was not always necessary for sexual satisfaction.

'Emotional and physical closeness to the partner may be more important than experiencing orgasm.'