Sexual motivation in women as a function of age

J Sex Med. 2009 Dec;6(12):3305-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01489.x. Epub 2009 Sep 14.


Introduction: Women's motivations to engage in sex are likely influenced by their past sexual experiences, the type of relationship in which they are involved in, and numerous lifestyle factors such as career and family demands. The influences of these factors undoubtedly change as women age.

Aim: This study aimed to examine potential differences in sexual motivation between three distinct age groups of premenopausal women.

Methods: Women aged 18-22 years (N = 137), 23-30 years (N = 103), and 31-45 years (N = 87) completed an online survey that assessed the proportion with which they had engaged in sexual intercourse for each of 140 distinct reasons.

Main outcome measures: The YSEX? Questionnaire by Meston and Buss [1] was used to measure sexual motivation. The items of this questionnaire were composed of four primary sexual motivation factors (physical, goal attainment, emotional, insecurity), and 13 subfactors.

Results: Women aged 31-45 years reported a higher proportion of engaging in sex compared with one or both of the younger age groups of women for nine of the 13 YSEX? subfactors: stress reduction, physical desirability, experience seeking, resources, social status, revenge, expression, self-esteem boost, and mate guarding. At an item level, the top 25 reasons for having sex were virtually identical across age groups.

Conclusion: Women aged 31-45 have more motives for engaging in sex than do women aged 18-30, but the primary reasons for engaging in sex do not differ within this age range. Women aged 18-45 have sex primarily for pleasure, and love and commitment. The implications for diagnosis and treatment of women with sexual dysfunctions were discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude
  • Cohort Studies
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Premenopause / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult