A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine examines differences in sexual desire, as well as the triggers that cause them, in pre- and post-menopausal women . Participants in the study included both women who had expressed concerns regarding their own feelings of sexual desire and those who felt their levels of desire to be normal.
An assessment tool was used for empirically categorizing stimuli associated with sexual desire in women, called the Cues for Sexual Desire Scale (CSDS). It examines four distinct elements of desire cues: Love/Emotional Bonding Cues, Erotic/Explicit Cues, Visual/Proximity Cues and Implicit/Romantic Cues.
Participants in the study were evaluated for sexual desire concerns, and completed a questionnaire that asked them to assess the likelihood that a specific cue (such as feeling a sense of love with a partner, or watching an erotic movie) would lead them to desire sexual activity.
The researchers found that pre- and post-menopausal women were equally responsive in terms of endorsing cues resulting in feelings of sexual desire in three of the four categories (Erotic/Explicit Cues, Visual/Proximity Cues, or Implicit/Romantic Cues), but that post-menopausal women, both with and without sexual desire concerns, were more likely to endorse Love/Emotional Bonding Cues resulting in feelings of sexual desire than pre-menopausal women.
The majority of studies investigating midlife women focus on negative symptoms associated with the menopausal transition, says Katie McCall, author of the study, noting that there is less understanding about the positive sexual changes experienced by post-menopausal women. In light of this, the fact that post-menopausal women did not differ significantly from pre-menopausal women on three of the four subscales, and scored higher than pre-menopausal women on one of the four subscales, is noteworthy.
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