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Sexual Transitions in the Lives of Adult Women

  • Emily Koert
  • Judith C. Daniluk
Chapter

Abstract

Sexuality is an important and complex aspect of life. It encompasses “physical, psychological, social, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and ethical dimensions of human experience” (Duplassie and Daniluk 2007, p. 263). Sexual expression involves “the sensual pleasure that comes from the stimulation of the body, often with the anticipation of an enjoyable, erotic feeling” (Westheimer and Lopater 2005, p. 24). Sexuality includes attitudes, beliefs, and expectations about self and others. These are inevitably shaped by external forces such as societal and cultural norms, media portrayals of sexuality, and relationships with others who are important. Women’s sexuality at all stages of the course of life is developed through and influenced by interactions with others based on a woman’s age, life stage, and significant roles (Daniluk 1998). How women experience their sexuality changes and shifts across the lifespan, especially during key transitions such as infertility, pregnancy, mothering, menopause, and physical illness and disability. Not only do these transitions involve biological processes and changes, but the meanings that women attribute to these events and experiences also have implications for women’s sexual self-perceptions, expression, and satisfaction (Daniluk 1998).

These and other key developmental transitions will be explored in more detail throughout this chapter. We have adopted a biopsychosocial approach throughout the chapter – focusing on the physiological, psychological, and social factors that shape and influence the sexuality of adult women during young adulthood, middle adulthood, and later life. Although we identify challenges to women’s sexuality across the lifespan, the focus of this chapter is on sexual health, defined by the World Health Organization as the integration of the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social aspects of being sexual, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhances the individual, her relationships, and society (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States 1996).

Keywords

Sexual Desire Sexual Expression Sexual Intimacy Middle Adulthood Life Role 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Koert
  • Judith C. Daniluk
    • 1
  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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