Study says women feel sexier as years go by

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A lot of today's grannies are enjoying sex more.

The Pfizer Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors polled 26,000 people around the world and found that 60 percent of women ages 40 to 80 found sex to be an "important part of their overall life."

My survey of women friends revealed a much sexier population: 95 percent of them place a prominent value on sexuality. It certainly seems like mature women are feeling friskier. And younger men are taking notice.

Much has been written about Demi, Madonna and Susan, those famous older gals who have attracted younger spouses or playmates. They have been dubbed in the press as "cougars" who successfully hunt "cubs." A big study by AARP found that over a third of single women over 40 are dating younger men and prefer to do so.

That same AARP study may provide a clue to this phenomenon of older gals/younger men. The No. 1 problem mature women had with dating was the "baggage" their dates brought with them.

By the way this was also the major complaint for men over 50 who date.

It makes sense that dating a younger person would provide better odds for finding a companion who was traveling lighter.

We all know about older men and their penchant for dating younger women. This undoubtedly has contributed to the "cougar" phenomenon. Women today aren't going to stand around with a goofy grin on their face as men their age try to do somersaults in front of younger babes. They are more likely to take matters into their own hands.

That same AARP study found that women in their 50s (and beyond) rated sexual compatibility as a critical factor in choosing a partner. We can imagine that this is very different from their mothers.

Janine, a successful professional at 53, is like many women of her generation: "My mother felt security and being a good provider were the most important qualities to look for in a mate. She taught me, in so many words, that sex was something you had to put up with until the old man wore out. Forget that! My mature body finally knows what it likes and I just need to keep a mature man around who appreciates that fact."

All of this is a good thing. And good for a woman's healthspan.

According to noted gerontologist, Dr. David Lipschitz, sex is one of the most powerful predictors of long-term health. This is true for both men and women, by the way. But for women, the operative word is "enjoy." A Duke University study found that enjoyment of sex, not quantity, is what predicted most potently increased longevity in women.

It seems that the women I know, at least, are going to live a long time. Annette, 55, is typical. She says sex is better than ever. "Like many women my age, I feel less threatened and inhibited. I'm also able to make a stronger and more secure emotional attachment to my partner."

She adds: "Personally, I wish all this fantastic sex would just happen more often."

This is a sentiment I heard quite a bit from women. Sex gets better, but the desire for it is not as strong -- the old problem of inhibited libido. There are answers to that problem, which I will tackle next week.

Dr. Michael O.L. Seabaugh is a Cape Girardeau native who is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years experience helping individuals and couples with their emotional and relationship issues. He has a private practice in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica, Calif. Contact him at mseabaugh@semissourian.com.

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