Although the study did not specifically look at why older women had more problems yet less distress about them, the authors postulated that reasons could include partner changes, other medical problems, or problems with their partners health.
Women currently experiencing depression had more than double the risk of having distressing sexual problems when compared with non-depressed women. While conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease affect men's sexual health, none of these issues impacted women's sexual health in this study.
"This is a wake-up call to health-care professionals . . . of the importance of sexual health and sexual quality of life," said Sheryl Kingsberg, chief of the division of behavioral medicine at MacDonald Women's Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "Forty percent of patients have sexual concerns, and 12 percent have enough of a concern that it's a significant dysfunction in life. This needs to be addressed."
While clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals as well as sex therapists have been working with couples on these issues for decades, medical options, including flibanserin, are now also on the horizon.
"There is research going on, and my hope is that women are finally going to have some options when it comes to sexual disorder treatments," Kingsberg said. "Right now, there are very limited options, but I think it's coming."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on female sexual dysfunction.
SOURCES: Jan L. Shifren, M.D., associate professor, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology, Harvard Medical School, and director
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