Researchers asked 587 women aged from 18 to 95, who attended a urology clinic in New Jersey, about six key areas of female sexual dysfunction (FSD)-lack of desire, arousal issues, lack of lubrication, problems achieving orgasm, lack of satisfaction and pain during intercourse.
"We found that 63 percent of the women suffered from FSD and that there were significant links between FSD and age, menopausal status and use of selective antidepressants" said co-author Dr Debra Fromer, head of the Center for Bladder, Prostate and Pelvic Floor Health at Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey.
They attended a typical American metropolitan urology practice caring for conditions such as urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, pelvic floor problems and kidney stones.
And the findings revealed that the most sexually active age groups were 31-45 year-olds (87pct), followed by 18-30 year-olds (85pct) and then 46-54 year-olds (74pct).
It then fell sharply in 55-70 year-olds (45pct) and in women who were over 70 (15pct).
The top overall problem was lack of desire (47pct), followed by orgasm problems (45pct), arousal issues (40pct), lack of satisfaction (39pct), lack of lubrication (37pct) and pain (36pct).
Five of the six categories increased as the women got older- desire from 36 to 96pct, arousal from 27 to 54pct, lubrication from 26 to 45pct, satisfaction from 28 to 88 pct and pain from 10 to 56pct.
The only category that bucked the trend was orgasm, with problems higher in the 18-30 age group (54pct) than in the 31-45 (43pct) and 46-54 (48pct) age groups.
It then rose to 66pct at 55-70 and 87pct when women were over 70.
"FSD can have a major effect on women''''s quality of life. Self-esteem, sense of wholeness and relationships can be seriously and adversely affected, exacting a heavy emotional toll," said Fromer.
"Researchers have found significant associations between major categories of sexual dysfunction, reduced physical and emotional satisfaction and general well-being.
"That is why it is so important to ensure that problems are identified and tackled wherever possible. For example a number of hormone and other drug treatments have been shown to benefit women with FSD," added Fromer.
Known risk factors for FSD include age, a history of sexual abuse or sexually transmitted infections, depression, lower socioeconomic status, lifestyle, overall physical health and sexual experience.
The study is published in the August issue of BJUI.
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