More than one in four British women report being unhappy with their sex lives, new research has found.
The survey by Public Health England (PHE) of more than 7,300 women investigated problems relating to reproductive health and included an unsatisfactory sex life within this umbrella.
The report revealed that those aged 25 to 34 were the least satisfied in bed, with 49 per cent complaining of a lack of sexual enjoyment.
Dissatisfaction was slightly lower for women aged 55 to 64, less than a third of whom reported experiencing unfulfilled sex lives - however, it was not clear whether this was because they were enjoying sex more or simply having less sex.
Health officials found that women who experienced unhappiness in their relationships, had been diagnosed with STIs and had difficulty communicating with their romantic partners were more likely to have low sexual function.
Meanwhile, positive sexuality (defined by PHE as experiencing high levels of sexual satisfaction, sexual self-esteem and sexual pleasure) were associated with use of contraception, improved relationship quality and an absence of STIs.
For young women specifically, a healthy sex life was also linked to less alcohol use, improved mental health and a positive attitude towards education.
The report also found that nearly a third of women surveyed had suffered from severe issues relating to sex, such as heavy periods and menopausal symptoms.
Dr Jane Dickson, vice president of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, commented: “The importance of having a healthy, enjoyable sexual life cannot be overstated as this strongly contributes to general wellbeing.
“However, there is still much stigma and embarrassment when it comes to sexual function – especially when we are talking about women’s sexual pleasure. Society still relegates women’s sexual pleasure to the background.”
Public health consultant at PHE Sue Mann added that a fulfilling sex life is fundamental to women’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
“Our data show that sexual enjoyment is a key part of good reproductive health and that while many women are reporting sexual dysfunction, many are not seeking help.”
The research also found that there is a strong stigma associated with reporting sexual and reproductive health issues.
“This is particularly true in the workplace where many women do not feel comfortable speaking to their managers about the real reasons for needing to take time off work,” Mann continued.
“We want to empower women to educate themselves about good reproductive health and to feel confident speaking about it.”
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