Aging Americans can and do enjoy high levels of sexual satisfaction. A new study published in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Medicine on sexual activity in older American women contained both good news and potential concerns. The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine study, followed 806 older women in a planned community for 40 years. They found that sexual satisfaction increases with age among sexually active older women, and even those women who were not sexually active reported satisfaction with their sex lives. However, the study also identified vaginal dryness as a concern for older women that could affect their sexual function.
The participants ranged in age from 40 to 99, with a median age of 67. Researchers found that, while 61 percent of all women in the study and 78 percent of those women who were sexually active were satisfied with their overall sex life, sexual satisfaction increased with age among sexually active older women. Satisfaction with the amount of emotional closeness during sexual activity with a partner was associated with more frequent arousal, lubrication, and orgasm. However, frequency of vaginal lubrication during sexual activity decreased with age; 60.8% of the youngest women reported lubrication almost always compared with only 28.6% of women age 80 years or more. A similar trend was reported with frequency of and difficulty maintaining lubrication.
Previous studies support this study, having found that vaginal dryness ranks among the 10 most common problems occurring during menopause. Millions of women suffer from vaginal dryness. It’s a real problem that affects and interferes with their daily lives. The effects of vaginal dryness range from minor discomfort to chronic pain. But unlike other symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes or night sweats, which usually lessen or disappear within five years, vaginal dryness continues and often worsens throughout the rest of a woman’s life. I often recommend vaginal estrogen for this situation. But for the many women who either can’t or won’t take estrogen, or just prefer not to, I also frequently suggest Replens Long-Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer to address vaginal dryness issues. Replens is an estrogen-free, clinically tested over-the-counter product that not only helps replenish vaginal moisture, but also helps rejuvenate dry vaginal cells.
If you suffer from vaginal dryness, you are not alone. Discuss your options with your medical professional to see if the risks of hormone replacement therapy outweigh the benefits. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that over-the-counter Replens® is as effective at alleviating vaginal dryness as prescription hormones, stating that Replens® “provided relief of vaginal (dryness) symptoms that was equivalent to that of vaginal estrogen…” This study shows that staying sexually active can help to improve your sexual function and maintain your vaginal wall tissues. Don’t let aging end your sexual satisfaction. Use it so you don’t lose it.
 Susan E. Trompeter, Ricki Bettencourt and Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, “Sexual Activity and Satisfaction in Healthy Community-dwelling Older Women,” The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 125, Issue 1, January 2012, pages 37-43. http://www.amjmed.com/article/PIIS0002934311006553/fulltext
 Deborah Grady, “Management of Menopausal Symptoms,” The New England Journal of Medicine, November 30, 2006, pages 2338-2347. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMcp054015.