Sex, mood, foreplay illustartion for Verve. Sexual intimacy is vital in a loving relationship, yet may be difficult to achieve. Products can help, says an expert. Pictures: Steve Lawrence 11/04/05

Johannesburg - Older South African women are indulging in quality, not quantity, when it comes to sex – and to their advantage.

The Women’s Sexual Well-being survey conducted by Columinate in partnership with Durex, found that 50 percent of respondents over the age of 40 nearly always experience an orgasm, in comparison to 40 percent of their younger counterparts.

But, concerningly, the survey also found that 61 percent of women feel they cannot live out their sexuality freely in South Africa, while 44 percent are not entirely satisfied with their sex life.

The survey also makes the link between a woman’s overall health and self-esteem and her sexual satisfaction.

Women who reported having high self-esteem also reported being more satisfied with their sexual life than their counterparts with a lower self-esteem.

The creators of the study say this indicates that a woman’s sexual well-being runs far deeper than just being intimate, but is also affected by emotional, physical and social issues.

The survey was based on a questionnaire given to just more than 1 000 women online, 83 percent of whom were in a stable relationship or married, while 17 percent were single.

When it comes to women’s perceived physical satisfaction, only 25 percent of women rarely experienced an orgasm, leaving 45 percent of women nearly always climaxing.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they experience a better orgasm with their partner.

Previous studies have found that South Africans have sex at a rate vastly below the global average, and this study puts the numbers at less than one or two times a week for most people.

Other interesting findings were that while 77 percent of women agree that it is acceptable for women to masturbate, only 41 percent of women said they masturbate.

“One of the key findings is that if we are to encourage couples to talk more openly about their sexual relationships, those conversations need to start with women,” said Thisile Mtyeku, Durex brand manager.

He said confidence and communication remained crucial to a good sex life.

JacoPhillip Crous, a research psychologist and sexual lifestyle coach and mentor, said the survey could not claim to represent South African women as it was limited to those who had access to the internet.

“Without a clear indication of social status and race, they can’t make any claims of being representative of South African women,” he pointed out.

Crous said, though, that the link between a woman’s age and sexual satisfaction, as well as between overall health and sexual satisfaction, was backed up by previous research.

“Women in South Africa suffer significant discrimination… If we are going to improve the quality of life and the quality of sex life for women, the conversation needs to start with men, with how men treat women, with how men view condoms,” Crous said.

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The Star