Sex problems among middle-aged Canadians common, study reveals

August 1, 2018, University of Guelph
Sex problems among middle-aged Canadians common, University of Guelph study reveals
University of Guelph professor Robin Milhausen. Credit: University of Guelph

At least one third of middle-aged Canadians experience sexual problems, according to a new U of G study.

Researchers found nearly 40 per cent of women and almost 30 per cent of men between the ages of 40 and 59 face challenges in their sex lives.

"This study shows that among middle-aged Canadians are relatively common," said Chris Quinn-Nilas, a Ph.D. candidate in family relations and human development and co-author of the study. "This is significant given this demographic is among the largest in Canada at the moment and research has shown that sexual problems can hinder a person's overall well-being."

Published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the study is based on a national survey of 2,400 people who were asked about their , happiness, and pleasure as well as about sexual behaviours and attitudes.

Nearly 40 per cent of women reported their sexual desire was lower than they would have liked over the preceding six months. A significant number of women also reported sexual problems including (nearly 29 per cent), vaginal pain (17 per cent) and difficulty achieving orgasm (14.5 per cent).

About one-third of men reported low sexual desire and about one-quarter said they experienced erectile and ejaculation problems within the preceding six months.

The large-scale study, one of the first to capture a national picture of the sex lives of middle-aged Canadians, was a collaboration of researchers from the University of Guelph and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada with the support of the Reproductive and Sexual Health Division of Church and Dwight Canada, makers of Trojan condoms.

One of the factors influencing is relationship status, said co-author Prof. Robin Milhausen, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition.

Both men and women, who are married or living with their partner, are more likely to experience lower desire than people who are single, separated, divorced or widowed.

"There is a feeling of predictability and over-familiarity that comes with long-term relationships that can hinder a person's level of sexual satisfaction over time," said Milhausen. "It's a reminder that the sexual aspects of your relationship are important and contribute to overall relationship and personal wellbeing. Making an effort, keeping the lines of communication open, and expanding your sexual repertoire can be helpful in keeping the spark alive in long-term relationships."

The study also uncovered a correlation between poor health and low desire and other physical sexual problems.

"It makes sense that if someone has arthritis, their desire for sex may be stymied by intense joint pain," said Quinn-Nilas. "But we also found was related to vaginal dryness for women and erectile difficulties in men, and, on the plus side, there are potential treatments for these sexual problems."

The high rate of sexual problems among middle-aged Canadians highlights the need for doctors to check in with patients about their sexual health, added Quinn-Nilas.

A previous study found that doctors rarely ask members of this demographic about their sexual health during routine visits, even though most middle-aged Canadians feel sexual health is a part of health care and that they should be asked, he said.

"Assessing sexual health should be a regular part of our , especially given the potential impact of sexual problems on overall health and well-being, and the recent advancements in treatments for sexual available in Canada that could help improve mid-life Canadians' level of sexual happiness."

Explore further: Women who believe their sex drive changes can better cope with low libido

More information: Christopher Quinn-Nilas et al, Prevalence and Predictors of Sexual Problems Among Midlife Canadian Adults: Results from a National Survey, The Journal of Sexual Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.03.086

Related Stories

Women who believe their sex drive changes can better cope with low libido

April 5, 2018
Women who believe that their sex drive will change over time are better able to handle difficulties with sexual desire, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Urinary incontinence may have negative effects on sexual health

April 5, 2018
In a new BJU International study, women with urinary incontinence reported declines in sexual activity and arousal over the last year, and they expressed increased concern about their frequency of sexual activity and ability ...

CDC: many adults not receiving sexual risk assessments

March 30, 2018
(HealthDay)—Less than half of women and a quarter of men with recent sexual activity receive sexual risk assessment, according to a March data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National ...

Sufficient sleep is important for healthy sexual desire

March 16, 2015
In a study of 171 women, those who obtained more sleep on a given night experienced greater sexual desire the next day. Reflecting sleep's impact on sexual desire, each additional hour of sleep increased the likelihood of ...

Research finds that older people's sexual problems are being dismissed

December 6, 2016
Older people's sexual activity problems and desires are being dismissed by health practitioners due to their age, a new study has suggested.

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

September 13, 2017
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.

Recommended for you

Removing sweets from checkouts linked to dramatic fall in unhealthy snack purchases

December 18, 2018
Policies aimed at removing sweets and crisps from checkouts could lead to a dramatic reduction to the amount of unhealthy food purchased to eat 'on the go' and a significant reduction in that purchased to take home, suggests ...

Junk food diet raises depression risk, researchers find

December 18, 2018
A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases your risk of depression, according to researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Children of problem drinkers more likely to marry someone with a drinking problem: study

December 18, 2018
Children of parents who have alcohol use disorder are more likely to get married under the age of 25, less likely to get married later in life, and more likely to marry a person who has alcohol use disorder themselves, according ...

Folate deficiency creates hitherto unknown problems in connection with cell division

December 17, 2018
Folate deficiency creates more problems in connection with DNA replication than researchers had hitherto assumed, researchers from the University of Copenhagen show in a new study. Once a person lacks folate, the damage caused ...

A co-worker's rudeness can affect your sleep—and your partner's, study finds

December 14, 2018
Rudeness. Sarcastic comments. Demeaning language. Interrupting or talking over someone in a meeting. Workplace incivilities such as these are becoming increasingly common, and a new study from Portland State University and ...

Study shows magnesium optimizes vitamin D status

December 14, 2018
A randomized trial by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers indicates that magnesium optimizes vitamin D status, raising it in people with deficient levels and lowering it in people with high levels.

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.