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Older Americans Have Active Sex Lives

Sexually Active Older People Have Sex as Often as Younger People

Sex After 60: Key Findings continued...

The survey unearthed what Lindau calls "a gold mine" of data on the sexuality of Americans aged 57-85. Some key facts:

  • People in "very good" or "excellent" health were far more likely to be sexually active than those in "fair" or "poor" health: 79% more likely for men, and 64% more likely for women.
  • At any age, women were less likely than men to have an intimate partner. This disparity "increased dramatically with age," the researchers found.
  • Few older people not in a relationship are sexually active: only 22% of men and only 4% of women.
  • 54% of sexually active older people have sex at least two to three times a month. Twenty-three percent report sex once a week or more.
  • Oral sex is reported by 58% of sexually active people aged 57-64 and by 31% of those aged 75-85.
  • Masturbation is reported by 52% of men and 25% of women in an intimate relationship and by 55% of men and 23% of women not in relationships. "This suggests older adults have a drive or a need for sexual fulfillment," Lindau says.
  • Sex is "not at all important" for 35% of older women, but only 13% of older men. "Women say, 'On the one hand I am not now interested in sex, but if I met the right kind of partner, maybe I would consider it,'" Lindau says.
  • Half of all older people report at least one bothersome sexual problem.
  • The most common sexual problems for men are erection difficulty (37%), lack of interest in sex (28%), climaxing too quickly (28%), performance anxiety (27%), and inability to climax (20%).
  • The most common sexual problems for women are lack of interest in sex (43%), difficulty with lubrication (39%), inability to climax (34%), finding sex not pleasurable (23%), and pain (17%).
  • The most common reason for not having sex was the male partner's physical health.
  • Even though most older people report some sexual problems, only 38% of men and 22% of women 50 years or older ever discuss sex with their doctors.

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