In their survey of sexual activity and health among U.S. adults over 57, Lindau et al (2007) state: "At any given age, women were less likely than men to be in a marital or other intimate relationship, and this difference increased dramatically with age". There seems to be a "dance partner" problem (8/13/07) with this finding, except for the tendency for women to choose older partners* (e.g. Buss, 1989). 35% of women and 13% of men reported that sex was "not at all important". However, similar difference were seen between the oldest and youngest groups (41%:15%) or the not-sexually-active vs. sexually-active groups (48%:5%), suggesting that more than gender is a factor in sexual desire. This study also found one of the rare areas of health care where women are less likely than men to seek treatment: despite similar levels of "problematic" sexual dysfunction, women were less likely to have spoken about it with a physician (22% to 38%). 14% of men and 1% of women had taken medication or supplements in the past year to improve sexual function.
*Or men to choose younger ones. Whatever. In the couples Lindau et al studied, the mean difference between men's and women's ages was 3.2 ± 5.7 years. With over 2,000 data points, a standard deviation that big suggests a lot of variation to me.
Now, I feel like I need to point out that this was a population prevalence survey. The authors did not seem to be aiming at drawing any causal conclusions, and I'd warn against that, too. The effects of aging on hormone levels, and any possible tie between hormones and libido, are not explicitly studied here (and barely mentioned). Same-sex relationships were explicitly mentioned, but the population was too small for subgroup analysis (8 out of 3,005 reported a same-sex relationship).
I hope I keep having sex as long as it's interesting. Five years ago (maybe even last year), I would have said "as long as I live", but ... well, now I can at least picture what it's like not to care about it. For me, there definitely seems to be a hormonal component, but I get less certain about that every year, as my prescribed dose of testosterone stays the same, but my libido creeps ever lower.
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