Age-related prevalence rates of sexual difficulties, sexual dysfunctions, and sexual distress in heterosexual women: results from an online survey in flanders

Lies Hendrickx, Luk Gijs, Paul Enzlin
Journal of Sexual Medicine 2015, 12 (2): 424-35

INTRODUCTION: Although age-related prevalence rates of female sexual difficulties, i.e., difficulties with sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, or pain have occasionally been studied-with mostly inconsistent results-the age-related prevalence rates of female sexual dysfunctions, i.e., sexual difficulties that are associated with sexual distress, have not. Moreover, the association of age with sexual distress, i.e., distress due to sexual difficulties, has almost completely been neglected in epidemiological research.

AIMS: The aims of the present study were to provide age-related prevalence estimates of sexual difficulties and sexual dysfunctions and to provide proportions of participants reporting sexual distress in heterosexual women.

METHODS: An online survey comprising on sexual difficulties (i.e., low sexual desire, lack of responsive sexual desire, difficulties with lubrication, lack of subjective sexual arousal, absent or delayed orgasm, and dyspareunia) and associated sexual distress that enables us to classify respondents with sexual dysfunctions.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Sexual Functioning Scale.

RESULTS: A total of 15,048 heterosexual women aged 16-74 years living in Flanders (the Nothern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) completed the online survey. This study revealed that all sexual difficulties and all sexual dysfunctions are significantly associated with age in women. Although most sexual difficulties and sexual dysfunctions increase with age, some display a U-shaped association with age. Furthermore, it was found that-except for lubrication difficulties-sexual distress was also significantly associated with age and that sexual distress is more common in younger women.

CONCLUSION: The association between age and sexual difficulties, sexual dysfunctions, and sexual distress in women is complex and deserves more attention from scholars.

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