It’s no secret that society wants older men to be the same sexual stallions that they were in their 20s. With Jimmy Johnson (Extenze), and Hugh Hefner (Playboy) leading the salt-and-pepper herd, men in their 50s and 60s are supposed to continue being sexually active.
But what about older women? They have the images of the old maid and the spinster. Some changes are developing via the rise of the “cougar” stereotype (albeit with its own set of problematic implications), but the myth of the asexual older woman still remains strong.
The idea might come from a conflation of sexual inactivity with menopause. If we associate sex with reproduction, women who are infertile post-menopause should not need to have sex. Or if we equate sexual drive with hormones, lower amounts of estrogen in women after menopause should decrease sexual desire.
But are these correlations valid? For women, should staying sexy stop at 60?
The research suggests otherwise. In a 2009 survey of nearly 2,000 women ages 45 to 80, Dr. Alison Huang found that 43 percent reported their sexual desire or interest to be moderate to very high in the last three months, including 28 percent of women over 65. Also, 60 percent of the women surveyed had some sexual activity in the last three months, including 37 percent of women over 65.