Fraser, Julie; Maticka-Tyndale, Eleanor; Smylie, Lisa
September 2004
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2004, Vol. 13 Issue 3/4, p171
Academic Journal
The sexuality of women at midlife has received insufficient attention in social scientific inquiry. This is troubling given the number of women in this age group and the tendency to emphasize biomedical over social factors in research on the sexual health issues that may affect women at midlife. This paper reviews the literature on female sexuality at midlife including sexual behaviour measures from large scale national surveys in the United States, Great Britain and France. In the absence of comparable population studies in Canada, data from Canada's National Population Health Survey (NPHS) were used in a logistic regression analysis to determine the relative influence of sociodemographic, lifestyle, and health factors on reported sexual intercourse activity of 15,249 Canadian women 35-59 years of age. Across this sample, sociodemographic and lifestyle factors were the most consistent predictors with health factors coming into play primarily for women over the age of 50. The study was limited by the lack of complete national data on sexual behaviour measures other than intercourse. While the Canadian government regularly collects data on a wide variety of health-related factors through instruments such as the NPHS, few if any questions ask about sexual behaviour and some provinces or health regions may opt to exclude such questions. Canada needs national surveys that give much greater priority to sexual behaviour and sexual health issues including those that affect women at midlife.


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