In a community survey of women aged 35-59 sexual functioning was studied in the 436 women with partners. One third of these women had operationally defined sexual dysfunction: impaired sexual interest was identified in 17% of women (68/406), vaginal dryness in 17% (73/434), infrequency of orgasm in 16% (60/379), and dyspareunia in 8% (30/379). Sexual dysfunctions were statistically significantly associated with increasing age and also with psychiatric disorder, neuroticism, and marital disharmony. One in 10 women regarded themselves as having a sexual problem. These women were no older than women with sexual dysfunction who did not regard themselves as having a sexual problem. Nevertheless, they differed from the rest of the sample in having more psychiatric disorder, neuroticism, marital disharmony, and (in women still menstruating) psychological symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome. In the whole sample 16 women (4%) said that they would like help for a sexual problem.
The prevalence of sexual dysfunction in this series of women suggests that general practitioners should increase their alertness to the problem in their patients.