Older Americans Have Active Sex Lives
Sexually Active Older People Have Sex as Often as Younger People
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 22, 2007 -- Though half report bothersome sexual problems, sexually
active Americans aged 57-85 have sex as often as those aged 18-59.
The findings come from a nationally representative sample of 3,005 U.S.
residents. They show that sexual intimacy remains an important part of most
people's lives as they age, says researcher Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, of the
University of Chicago.
"Many older and younger men and women make the choice not to be sexually
active. But the majority of people, young and old, do engage in sexuality,"
Lindau said at a news conference.
How sexually active are older Americans?
"An interesting finding is among those sexually active, the frequency we
saw of sex two or three times a month or more is not different from 18- to
59-year-olds," Lindau said. "So if one has a partner, the frequency of
sex does not change a lot between age groups."
It is people's health -- not their age -- that ultimately limits their
sexual activity, says researcher Edward O. Laumann, PhD, of the University of
Sexual inactivity is "much more a consequence of health than
otherwise," Laumann said at the news conference. "When sexual health
begins to deteriorate, it is an important warning sign of more profound health
Inevitably, aging people do reach a point at which sex becomes increasingly
rare, says researcher Linda J. Waite, PhD, of the University of Chicago.
"The one thing that surprised me was that among the oldest adults with
sex partners, only a minority reported being sexually active," Waite said
at the news conference. "There seems to be a point in people's lives when
their health declines. They become frail, and -- although still partnered --
they are not having any kind of sexual activity. That is an important part of
the picture of sexuality in older ages."
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Sex After 60: Key Findings
During the survey, trained researchers interviewed subjects, administered
questionnaires asking intimate questions, and obtained medical data including
blood, saliva, and vaginal swab samples.