No sex, please. Not menopausal, just busy! (Research says.)

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked (I’m tempted to say “longingly”) at the sex lives of middle-aged women, and found the main factor influencing women’s sex lives wasn’t menopause, but lifestyle. In other words, these women just have too much else going on to get in the mood for intimacy:

The study combined survey data from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) and in-depth interviews with women in middle-age. The survey revealed that out of over 2,000 women aged between 40 and 59, a third had not had sex in the past month but less than half this proportion were dissatisfied with their sex lives.

After taking account of a range of interrelated factors the survey showed that age and menopausal status were less important in determining levels of sexual satisfaction, function, and frequency than relationship and lifestyle factors and health status.

Follow up interviews with a sample of women confirmed the survey findings. Few linked their menopause with a decline in the quality or frequency of sexual activity. What the survey failed to capture, and women’s accounts illustrated vividly, was the sheer weight of pressures on women in midlife. Women interviewed described their hectic schedules, and the challenges of combining family, work, and social lives. They talked about financial and relationship difficulties, worries about family members, the simultaneous demands of children and aging parents, both needing practical help and emotional support and neither contributing greatly to a reduction in workload or stress. The ‘double caring duties’ for children and parents were seen as an issue the previous generation had not experienced. Many women’s lives were so busy that they left little time or energy to enjoy a regular and satisfying sex life.

You can read more of the research (which also had contributions from University of Glasgow and University College London) here, in the Journal of Sex Research under the headline “We’re Just Tired.”