Frequent sex makes life more enjoyable for older adults, says study

506500105

Frequent sex makes life more enjoyable for older adults, says study

Good news for older adults – engaging in more sexual activity for both men and women is associated with more happiness and enjoyment of life. So says a new study published online in the journal Sexual Medicine.  It appears that the driving force of this finding has to do with the importance of connection and intimacy, necessary for all stages of life, but especially so in later years.

The link between well-being and sexual activity

Researchers with the study wanted to find out if there was a possible association between sexual activity problems or concerns, and how those factors might influence the well-being in older adults. Participants of the study were approximately 3,000 men and 3,800 women living in England whose ages ranged from 50 to 89 – average age for men was 64 and for women, 65. Of the men, 74 percent and 60 percent of the women, were married or living with a partner and 95 percent Caucasian.

The conclusion from this study were interesting but not surprising – among sexually active men, frequent intercourse as well as frequent kissing, petting or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life.  For women, frequent kissing, petting or fondling was linked to greater life enjoyment, but frequent intercourse was not. Frequent masturbation was not associated with greater life enjoyment for either sex.  “Frequent” was defined as two or more times a month.

To measure each person’s enjoyment of life, researchers used the quality of life scale called CASP-19 (control, autonomy, self-realization, and pleasure).  This scale has been used in previous research to measure happiness and contentment for older adults. 

Researchers considered the most interesting finding of the study to be that sexually active men ranked frequent intercourse with a greater enjoyment of life, but not sexually active women. They concluded that sexual intercourse for men appears to be more important in terms of promoting well-being whereas women’s enjoyment is more closely linked to other sexual activities.

How this study may help future treatments for age-related sexual problems

A main takeaway from this study is that for women, simply having sex is not a main contributor to fulfillment in life. Because of this finding, these results could improve the way medications developed for women’s sexual health are based on.  Moving into the future, it appears that medications should look at sexual desire, satisfaction, pain and other areas of sexuality that are important to women and how helpful they will be. For women, it also appears that frequency of sexual intercourse is not nearly as important as sexual intimacy of kissing, petting or fondling to feel a strong connection.

Another area addressed with this study was that men experiencing erectile dysfunction or difficulty achieve orgasm, had less life satisfaction. Concerns about lack of desire and frequency of sex also had a negative impact on life enjoyment.

Probably the most important takeaway from this study is that older adults do have sexual desire and are not asexual. Health professionals should keep in mind that sexuality is different for each individual and varies throughout their lifetime, for better or worse. But the healthier a person is, the more likely they will seek out fulfilling relationships that include having sex.

If older adults are to have good overall wellness as they age, part of promoting health in this age group is to encourage and support a healthy sex life which appears to have benefits for their health.  This may be one of the best pieces of advice any doctor can prescribe for their older patients.