Image: Getty

It’s not just drier vaginas and other menopausal side-effects that cause declining sex lives as many women age. According to a new study, a woman’s sexual activity and overall satisfaction later in life have less to do with her own physical state or desire and, rather, that of her partner. In other words, men are not the living, breathing boners that they’re stereotyped to be, and women are not the frigid kill joy crones they’re made out to be either. If this hasn’t already elicited an eye roll and a “no shit,” then I invite you to get a clue.

The New York Times reports on a study from the medical journal Menopause and is based on surveys of more than 24,000 women in the United Kingdom aged 50-74:

Over all, 78 percent of the women surveyed said they had an intimate partner, but fewer than half the women (49.2 percent) said they had active sex lives. The women’s written answers about why they stopped having sex revealed the pain and sadness behind the percentages.

The main reason was losing a partner to death or divorce, which was cited by 37 percent of the women. [...] Some women said life was too complicated to make time for sex — 8 percent said their partner was too tired for sex, and 9 percent of women said they were also too tired for sex. [...] A husband with serious health issues was another common theme. About one in four women (23 percent) said the lack of sex was because of their partner’s physical problems, and 11 percent of women blamed their own physical problems.

Other things triggered a decline in sexual activity, including partners who struggled with addiction, partners who lost interest in sex, etc. Essentially: Declining sex lives for people over 50 go far beyond Sahara pussy and hot flashes. Some people are busy finding love after breakups, others are too busy taking care of aging parents, and many more are too exhausted after a busy day at work to worry about finding time to fuck.

Naturally, women are traditionally blamed for crumbling sex lives in cis-hetero relationships. Medications to induce erections have long been marketed to men to fix what was seen as a physical hiccup, while women’s contributions are characterized as both physical and psychological. This study sheds light on what anyone with common sense already knows: Life is complicated enough without throwing sex into the mix, and throwing women-oriented libido boosters at the problem is really only half the battle.

Advertisement

If a lack of sex is bringing true grief to a relationship, good luck to couples who are trying to navigate a healthy way forward. But maybe an ambivalence toward sex as life goes on is actually perfectly normal too.