Home > Journals > Minerva Obstetrics and Gynecology > Past Issues > Minerva Ginecologica 2007 June;59(3) > Minerva Ginecologica 2007 June;59(3):287-98



Publishing options
To subscribe
Submit an article
Recommend to your librarian





Minerva Ginecologica 2007 June;59(3):287-98


language: Italian

Aging and sexuality in women

Nappi R. E. 1, 2, Albani F. 1, 2, Valentino V. 3, Polatti F. 1, Chiovato L. 2, Genazzani A. R. 3

1 Centro di Ricerca per la Medicina Riproduttiva, Dipartimento di Scienze Morfologiche Eidologiche e Cliniche, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia, Italia 2 Unità di Endocrinologia Ginecologica e Menopausa, Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Endocrinologia, IRCCS Fondazione S. Maugeri, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia, Italia 3 Sezione di Ginecologia e Ostetricia, Dipartimento di Medicina Riproduttiva e Sviluppo del Bambino, Università degli Studi di Pisa, Pisa, Italia


A large number of biological, psycho-relational and socio-cultural factors are related to women’s sexual health and they may negatively affect the entire sexual response cycle inducing significant changes in sexual desire, arousal, orgasm and satisfaction during the entire reproductive life span. In spite of the high prevalence of sexual problems with increasing age, sexual retirement is not an inevitable consequence of the passage of time and a high proportion of men and women remains sexually active well into later life, a result of changing attitudes toward sexuality and the availability of effective treatments for sexual dysfunction. Population-based studies reported an age-related decline of sexual functioning and an additional adverse effect of menopausal status. Ageing per se interferes with the level of sexual performance, but sexual behaviour of midlife and older women is highly dependent on several factors such as general physical and mental well-being, quality of relationship and life situation. Sex hormones, mainly low levels of estradiol, are relevant for the lack of sexual awareness and vaginal receptivity in naturally menopausal women. Even diminished levels of androgens, as it more frequently occurs in surgically menopausal women, has a negative impact on desire and sexual responsiveness. Several hormonal treatments have been used locally or systemically to alleviate sexual symptoms, especially by using estrogen plus androgen preparations and tibolone, with noticeable results on drive, enjoyment, lubrication, ability to reach orgasm and initiation of sex. However, sexual counseling and individualized management is mandatory to obtain meaningful and long-lasting results in clinical practice.

top of page