Open communication and emotional closeness linked to fewer low sexual interest problems

September 13, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

British women living with a partner are more than twice as likely to lack interest in sex compared to men living with a partner, according to a new study published in the BMJ Open.

Women in relationships lasting more than a year are more likely to report lacking interest in sex than those in relationships lasting one year or less.

The findings come from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) which is the largest scientific study of sexual health lifestyles in Britain.

Natsal-3 was carried out by researchers at University College London, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and NatCen Social Research. The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, with support from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department of Health.

The nationally representative survey interviewed 6,669 and 4,839 men aged between 16 and 74 who reported at least one sexual partner in the past year. Overall, 34 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men reported lacking interest in sex. Half of these people - 62 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men - said that they were distressed by their lack of interest in sex.

Those who found it always easy to talk about sex with their partner were less likely to report lacking interest. This was true for men as well as women.

Professor Cynthia Graham, of the Centre for Sexual Health Research at the University of Southampton and lead author on the paper, said: "Our findings show us the importance of the relational context in understanding low sexual interest in both men and women. For women in particular, the quality and length of relationship and communication with their partners are important in their experience of sexual interest. It highlights the need to assess and - if necessary - treat sexual interest problems in a holistic and relationship-, as well as gender-specific way."

The study also revealed other things linked to low interest in sex in men and women:

  • Reporting an STI in the last year
  • Ever experiencing sex against your will
  • Poor mental and physical health
  • Not feeling emotionally close to partner during sex

It also found things linked to low interest in sex among women only:

  • Having three or more partners in the past year
  • Having children under five years old in the household
  • Not sharing the same sexual likes and dislikes as

Co-author Dr Kirstin Mitchell, at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, commented: "The findings on the strong association between open sexual communication and a reduced likelihood of sexual interest problems emphasise the importance of providing a broad sexual and relationships education rather than limiting attention only to adverse consequences of sex and how to prevent them."

Explore further: At least one in ten young people in Britain report a recent distressing sexual problem

More information: Factors associated with reporting lacking interest in sex and their interaction with gender: Findings from the third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, BMJ Open (2017). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016942

Related Stories

At least one in ten young people in Britain report a recent distressing sexual problem

August 2, 2016
Around one in ten young men and one in eight young women in Britain who are sexually active have experienced a distressing sexual problem lasting at least three months in the past year, according to new research published ...

More women than men lose interest in sex after treatment for imminent heart attack

March 21, 2017
Women are more likely to lose interest in sex than men, while men are more dissatisfied after treatment for a (imminent) heart attack. Emotional distress plays an important role, negatively impacting all aspects of sexual ...

New study examines sexual violence against college women with disabilities

May 15, 2017
Patterns of sexual violence and intimate partner violence aimed at female college students with a mental health-related or behavioral disability and the health effects of this abuse are presented in a new study published ...

Nearly half of women who use social media say they have been sexually victimised

July 14, 2017
These are findings being presented on Thursday 13 July at the British Psychological Society's 30th Psychology of Women conference in Windsor by Megan Kenny from University of Huddersfield.

Sexual stereotypes can lead to unhealthy sexual relationships

June 12, 2017
Female college students who believe women are subservient and who endorse music media's degradation of women are more likely to be involved in an unhealthy sexual relationship, according to research from WSU's Murrow Center ...

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

How pomegranate extract alters breast cancer stem cell properties

November 15, 2017
A University at Albany research team has found evidence suggesting that the same antioxidant that gives pomegranate fruit their vibrant red color can alter the characteristics of breast cancer stem cells, showing the superfood's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.