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Sexual Satisfaction May Lead to Greater Well-Being in Women

But frequency of activity cannot be considered a reliable indicator, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are happy with their sex lives have higher well-being scores and more vitality than women who are sexually dissatisfied, Australian researchers say.

Their study included 295 women, aged 20 to 65, who were sexually active more than twice a month.

"We wanted to explore the links between sexual satisfaction and well-being in women from the community, and to see if there was any difference between pre- and postmenopausal women," study author Dr. Sonia Davison, of the Women's Health Program at Monash University, said in a news release from the journal in which the study was published.

"We found that women who were sexually dissatisfied had lower well-being and lower vitality. This finding highlights the importance of addressing these areas as an essential part of women's health care, because women may be uncomfortable discussing these issues with their doctor," Davison said.

She added that the difficulty in interpreting the findings "is that it is impossible to determine if dissatisfied women had lower well-being because they were sexually dissatisfied, or if the reverse is true, such that women who started with lower well-being tended to secondarily have sexual dissatisfaction. As such, pharmacotherapies aimed to treat sexual dysfunction may have secondary effects on well-being, and the reverse may be true."

More than 90 percent of the women in the study said their sexual activity involved a partner, and that sexual activity was initiated by the partner at least 50 percent of the time. This means that the sexual activity of the study participants may have been affected by partner presence/absence, partner health and sexual function -- factors that weren't addressed in the study, the researchers noted.

"The fact that women who self-identified as being dissatisfied maintained the level of sexual activity reported most likely represents established behavior and partner expectation," senior study author Susan Davis, also of the Women's Health Program at Monash, said in the news release. "It also reinforces the fact that frequency of sexual activity in women cannot be employed as a reliable indicator of sexual well-being."

The study was published Sept. 30 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about women's health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Sexual Medicine, news release, Sept. 30, 2009

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