Everywhere you look, there are tips on how to improve your sex life and reignite the “spark”—whether it’s from a magazine, therapist, or your annoying friend who’s in the seemingly perfect relationship. From exotic new positions to herbal libido-boosting supplements, it feels like most of us are always on a quest to have better sex, whether we’re in a relationship of five months or five years. So—is all the hype legit, in the sense that sex actually does get stale as time passes? Sadly, new data suggests that time is truly the ultimate libido killer, at least for women.
According to a study recently published in the British Medical Journal Open, women become bored with sex in a long-term, monogamous relationship after about one year. Researchers at Southampton University collected data from 4,839 men and 6,669 women between the ages of 16 and 74. The data showed that both genders see a marked decline in sex drive with age, but that women self-report getting tired of sex in relationships far more quickly than men.
The data also shows that women are twice as likely to be disinterested in sex than men, the lowest interest in sex occurring between the ages 55 and 64. Men, on the other hand, had their lowest interest in sex marked at 35 to 44. The overall findings showed that 34 percent of women reported a total lack of interest in sexual activity for three months or longer in the last twelve months.
What could be causing this slide into sexual ambivalence? While age is relevant, research could not assert that women getting older (i.e. menopause) was singularly at fault. A variety of factors play into a woman’s lack of sex drive—more than just wanting (and not having) spontaneous, kinky, or casual sex—and include history with sexual trauma, a lack of emotional closeness or intimacy in a relationship, and poor communication.
Another big factor: parenthood. The study found that having young children, giving birth, and the subsequent fatigue associated with parenting were among the main culprits for low libido, especially among women.
As a childless woman who’s newly single after ending a long-term relationship, I can personally attest to the fact that sex does get boring once you’ve been together for awhile. Though, for me (not having had to deal with the daunting, draining challenges of parenting), if there’s one thing I missed most while in my relationship, it was simply the ability to have adventurous, casual sex.
While it’s impossible to prescribe a panacea that will work for every relationship and help stave off sexual apathy, researchers suggest opening up communication with your partner to increase the likelihood of feeling emotionally—and, as a result, physically—close. Previous data shows that those who can discuss sex (and everything else) openly have a greater chance of maintaining a healthy, satisfying, and not-at-all-snoozy sex life.