Sexual problems affect around one third of young and middle aged women, and about half of older women.
These include; lack of sexual desire; pain during sexual intercourse and problems with reaching orgasm.
An extensive study over a period of seven years from the University of Turku and Abo Akademi University in Finland may shed light on why so many women suffer from sexual dysfunction.
Using questionnaire results from the Female Sexual Function Index, researchers examined the answers of 2,173 premenopausal women – one from a survey in 2006 and another from 2013.
The results, which have been published in the Psychological Medicine science journal, provide some insight: women’s ability to orgasm was the most stable over the seven year period, whereas sexual satisfaction was the most varied.
The study grouped women into those that (a) ended the seven-year period single, (b) those that had partners in 2006, and had different ones by 2013 and (c) those that remained with the same partner across the seven years.
The ability to orgasm improved across all three groups, but women who were single experienced the greatest improvement.
Women with new partners had slightly less improvement, but it was those who remained with the same partners over the seven years that reported the least improvement with sexual function.
So is long-term monogamy the end of sexual satisfaction for women?
The study authors identified a number of limitations to their research.
While the study used a large sample size, the seven-year time frame did not take into account fluctuations in sexual function, pre-existing sexual dysfunction, cohabitation or the duration of singlehood.