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For women, sexual problems and distress over them are two different things

October 31, 2008 |  9:38 am

We knew that 40% or so of U.S. women report sexual problems. What we didn't know was how many were upset about it. The answer: 12%. So says a study published in the November issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The research, led by a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, was based on information from more than 32,000 women. The reported problems included low desire (most common), limited arousal and difficulties having an orgasm.

Overall, 43% of women age 18 and older reported some type of sexual problem. Such problems were most common in women over age 65. Distress over them was most common in women age 45 to 64. Women age 18 to 44, perhaps not surprisingly, were least likely to have problems or distress.

The differences among the age groups may not be surprising, but much could be (and will be) written about those 43% and 13% figures. For now, take from them what you will. 

Says lead author Dr. Jan Shifren in a news release: "While distressing sexual problems are much less common in women than sexual problems overall, they still affect approximately one in eight adult women. ... As part of a thorough health assessment, it's important that health care providers ask their female patients if they have sexual concerns and if those problems are associated with distress."

For more on sexual desire in women, check out this recent story from L.A. Times Mating Game columnist Regina Nuzzo: Mapping the way to G-spot utopia

And then there's her reporting about sex in both genders: Science of the orgasm, Use it or lose it and a related story, Sexual dry spells hurt blood pressure, intensify orgasms

And in other coverage, there's Quest for the little pink pill, a Times story about the search for a female Viagra, and A woman's guide to reviving sex drive, from WebMD.

-- Tami Dennis