A woman’s sexual functioning remains relatively stable over time, according to a study of women before and after menopause.

The main predictors of changes in sexual functioning and satisfaction are desire and arousal, highlighting their role as the main “players” in women’s sexual health.

The study of more than 500 women shows that despite the potential adverse effects of menopause and transition to menopause, sexual satisfaction and functioning in postmenopausal women can be improved and sexual problems can show spontaneous remission.

The researchers say their findings question the role of menopausal transition as a significant risk factor for sexual problems.

“The high stability of arousal, orgasm and for lubrication is somewhat surprising, given that the majority of women were perimenopausal,” write the researchers in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Their findings show that sexual desire may not be a distinct phase in the sexual response cycle but rather that it is present through all the different phases including arousal, orgasm, and even resolution.

This suggests that the subjective feelings of desire and arousal are the main motivational factors in women’s sexual health, they say.

The researchers note that from a clinical standpoint, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and sex therapy can improve a woman’s sexuality  even at a later stage in life, and despite the presence of biological impairments associated with menopause.

Last Reviewed: 14/05/2015



Burri, A., Hilpert, P. and Spector, T. (2015), Longitudinal Evaluation of Sexual Function in a Cohort of Pre- and Postmenopausal Women. Journal of Sexual Medicine. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12893