Association between higher levels of sexual function, activity, and satisfaction and self-rated successful aging in older postmenopausal women

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Aug;59(8):1503-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03495.x. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


Objectives: To determine whether measures of successful aging are associated with sexual activity, satisfaction, and function in older postmenopausal women.

Design: Cross-sectional study using self-report surveys; analyses included chi-square and t-tests and multiple linear regression analyses.

Setting: Community-dwelling older postmenopausal women in the greater San Diego region.

Participants: One thousand two hundred thirty-five community-dwelling women aged 60 to 89 participating at the San Diego site of the Women's Health Initiative.

Measurements: Demographic information and self-reported measures of sexual activity, function, and satisfaction and successful aging.

Results: Sexual activity and functioning (desire, arousal, vaginal tightness, use of lubricants, and ability to climax) were negatively associated with age, as were physical and mental health. In contrast, sexual satisfaction and self-rated successful aging and quality of life remained unchanged across age groups. Successful aging measures were positively associated with sexual measures, especially self-rated quality of life and sexual satisfaction.

Conclusion: Self-rated successful aging, quality of life, and sexual satisfaction appear to be stable in the face of declines in physical health, some cognitive abilities, and sexual activity and function and positively associated with each other from age 60 to 89.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • California
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Postmenopause / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior*