Experts from Proctor and Gamble and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, surveyed more than 2,200 women ranging in age from thirty to seventy on sexual behaviour and level of satisfaction.
They found that the prevalence of low sexual desire ranged from 26.7 per cent among pre-menopausal women, to 52 per cent among post-menopausal women.
The incidence of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), a more serious form of female sexual dysfunction, was as high as 12.5 per cent in surgically menopausal women, who had had their ovaries removed due to a number of gynecologic problems.
According to the study, surgically menopausal women were 2.3 times as likely to experience HSDD as pre-menopausal women.
Naturally menopausal women were 1.2 times as likely to experience HSDD, said the researchers.
Published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, their study report says that HSDD differs from low sexual desire insofar as the former causes distress among affected women, and can therefore lead to relationship problems and general anxiety.
"These results strongly suggest that something quite significant is occurring in women who experience menopause whether naturally or as a result of surgery," notes Stephen M. Simes, president and CEO of Lincolnshire, IL-based BioSante Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
"This group appears to undergo hormonal changes which strongly affect sexual desire and, more importantly, may cause distress as well," he notes.
He adds that this research corroborates previously published studies that have established the high prevalence and impact of HSDD in menopausal women.
"This seminal paper establishes, once and for all, what significant numbers of women and their sexual partners have known for a very long time, namely that HSDD is a real medical condition that should be taken seriously," says Simes.
"Millions of women will be relieved to know that female sexual dysfunction, and especially HSDD, is not just a psychological problem, but one that can be addressed physiologically," he adds.