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Interest not gone, just hormones

Dear Readers: Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all, along with our special good wishes to the veterans in VA hospitals around the country. And our particular thanks to those readers who have taken the time to send valentines, visit the vets and volunteer at VA facilities.

Dear Annie: “Sex Therapist” does not need a refresher course. You are mistaken when you say that the “vast majority” of older women lose interest in sex.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter reported that in a survey of 27,000 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, more than 60 percent of women in their 50s, 45 percent of those in their 60s and 28 percent of women in their 70s reported that they were sexually active, and almost two-thirds said they were happy with their level of sexual activity. Of those who were dissatisfied, more than half said they would prefer having sex more often. Even these numbers may be misleading, because when healthy women stop having sex, it is not necessarily due to a lack of libido. Often it’s because they lack a partner or because topical treatments have not resolved the common problem of vaginal dryness. – Carole Wade, Ph.D.

Dear Dr. Wade: We do not take issue with the fact that post-menopausal women can be interested in sex. In fact, we encourage it. We do, however, disagree with “Sex Therapist’s” comment that losing interest is a myth.

We are delighted the study showed that 28 percent of women still have an active libido into their 70s. But it is hardly a myth that hormones are depleted as we age, and many post-menopausal women lose interest for a variety of reasons. According to our readers, those who have a healthy sex life are generally using some form of hormone replacement. We need to acknowledge this reality and not make women feel freakish or inadequate if they experience a drop in libido and hormones are not an option.