Sexual Problems Among Older Women by Age and Race

Background: The purpose of our study was to examine the prevalence of sexual problems by age and race among older women in the United States and to examine quality of life correlates to sexual dysfunction among non-Hispanic white and African American older women.Methods: A cross-sectional study using self-report surveys was conducted among community-dwelling U.S. women, aged 60 years and over. A total of 807 women aged 61-89 years were included. Self-administered questionnaires assessed sexual dysfunction, satisfaction with life, depressive symptomatology, and self-rated health. Analyses included multivariate logistic regression.Results: The mean age of the sample was 66 years. Two-thirds of the sample had at least one sexual dysfunction; the most common for both African American and non-Hispanic white women were lack of interest in sex and vaginal dryness. Prevalence varied by age for each of the sexual dysfunctions. The odds of experiencing sexual dysfunction varied with age and race. Compared with non-Hispanic white women, African American women had lower odds of reporting lack of interest in sex or vaginal dryness. Poor self-rated health, depressive symptomatology, and lower satisfaction with life were associated with higher odds of having some sexual dysfunction.Conclusions: Improved understanding of how sexual dysfunction affects women across multiple age ranges and racial/ethnic groups can assist providers in making recommendations for care that are patient centered. The associations that we identified with quality of life factors highlight the need to assess sexual health care in the aging female population.