Sexual activity and perceived health among Finnish middle-aged women

Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2006 May 10;4:29. doi: 10.1186/1477-7525-4-29.


Background: An increasing awareness of the need to address sexual and orgasm experiences as part of life quality and an understanding of the great individual differences between women play roles in women's health and medical care across the specialities. Information is lacking as to how negative attitude toward self (NATS) and performance impairment (PI) are associated with sexual activity of middle-aged women. We examined the associations of sexual experience, orgasm experience, and lack of sexual desire with perceived health and potential explanatory variables of NATS and PI.

Methods: Questionnaire was mailed to 2 population-based random samples of menopausal or soon-to-be menopausal women (n = 5510, 70% response) stratified according to age (42-46 and 52-56 years). In multivariate analyses of the associations with the outcome variables, perceived health, NATS, and PI were used as covariates in 6 models in which exercise, menstrual symptoms, and illness indicators were taken into account as well.

Results: Sexual activity variables were associated with perceived health. When present, NATS formed associations with sexual and orgasm experiences, whereas strenuous exercise formed associations with orgasm among 42-46-year-old women alone. Strenuous exercise was not associated with orgasm experience among older women.

Conclusion: NATS and PI are closely tied to orgasm experiences and the meaning of the roles needs to be exposed. Sexual activity deserves to be addressed more actively in patient contact at least with perimenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Libido* / physiology
  • Menopause / physiology
  • Menopause / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Orgasm* / physiology
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Women's Health*