For couples who have lost the spark in their relationship, it can be easy to blame their busy schedules or simply taking each other for granted.
But experts say the fading lack of enthusiasm between the sheets among those of a certain age might be down to hormone changes which hit both partners at the same time – dubbed the ‘couplepause’.
The changes which spark the menopause for a woman in her 40s and 50s can lead her to lose interest in sex.
At the same time, many men of a similar age experience a fall in testosterone which some call the ‘andropause’.
Scientists now claim the effects of the hormone shift on those in middle-age can ‘pass’ from one partner to the other. They say the loss of interest and anxiety in one partner can have a negative impact on the other’s sexual drive.
Experts say the fading lack of enthusiasm between the sheets among those of a certain age might be down to hormone changes which hit both partners at the same time – dubbed the ‘couplepause’.
Sex therapist Dr Emmanuele Jannini, of Tor Vergata University in Rome, said ‘couplepause’ can be treated by couples’ therapy and should be embraced as a period of ‘transition or renewal’, promoting a healthy sex life and overall well-being (stock image)
Both may be reluctant to seek treatment, allowing symptoms to ‘pass’ from one to the other.
It comes as separate research found women were emotionally and financially worse off than men after ‘grey divorce’ – break-ups after 50 – which is on the rise in high-income countries.
Sex therapist Dr Emmanuele Jannini, of Tor Vergata University in Rome, said: ‘Sexual problems in one partner may in turn worsen the other’s sexual health.
‘Addressing sexual health needs during mid-life must have the aim of not only improving survival but also pursuing healthy ageing.’
The study said an example of ‘couplepause’ could be a woman not seeking help for pain during sex if her male lover leaves his erectile dysfunction untreated. It added that the phenomenon may also be caused by external factors such as stress, depression and relationship fatigue.
Researchers pointed out that a menopausal woman in her 50s in a new relationship may be more sexually active than a woman in her 30s who has been married for 10 years.
Dr Jannini said ‘couplepause’ can be treated by couples’ therapy and should be embraced as a period of ‘transition or renewal’, promoting a healthy sex life and overall well-being. Menopause usually affects women between the ages of 45 and 55. It is caused by a drop in hormone levels and can cause symptoms including anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes and brain fog.
Men may suffer from lowered testosterone in middle age, which some call ‘andropause’ or ‘manopause’ – although the NHS says these terms are unhelpful because testosterone does not drop suddenly but over time.
The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, comes after different research has suggested women are left both financially and emotionally worse off than men after a ‘grey divorce’.
Scientists at the Chongqing Medical University in China tracked the antidepressant use of those aged 50 to 70 in Finland.
The study found that while both sexes increased their antidepressant use in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of break-ups, divorce or bereavement, women’s use of these drugs was greater than men’s.
Women’s household income dropped twice as much as men following a divorce, research by Legal & General Retail found. It showed women saw their household income fall by 41 per cent in the year following a divorce compared with 21 per cent for men.