Half of English men over 70 are still having sex, study finds
The University of Manchester has found that a large number of elderly people still have active sex lives
The study uncovers a detailed picture of the sex lives of older men and women in England
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
10:37AM GMT 28 Jan 2015
Older people are continuing to enjoy active sex lives well into their seventies and eighties, according to new research from The University of Manchester
More than half (54 per cent) of men and almost a third (31 per cent) of women over the age of 70 reported they were still sexually active.
A third of these men and women said they had frequent sex – meaning at least twice a month – according to data from the latest wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
It is the first study on sexual health of its kind to include people over the age of 80 and uncovers a detailed picture of the sex lives of older men and women in England, finding that a sizeable minority remain sexually active in their old age.
More than 7,000 elderly people were asked about their sex lives by Manchester’s School of Social Science.
“We hope our findings improve public health by countering stereotypes and misconceptions about late-life sexuality, and offer older people a reference against which they may relate their own experiences and expectations,” said report author Dr David Lee.
“Our ongoing research is also highlighting the diversity of late-life sexualities, and trying to impose youthful norms of sexual health on older people would be over-simplistic and even unhelpful.
“It is however important that health professionals act on this and are more open about discussing sexual health with older people – it can’t simply be assumed to be an irrelevance.”
Problems encountered by older people which stopped them having sex, or enjoying intercourse fully, included failing to become aroused, difficulty achieving orgasm, and for men erective difficulties.
Chronic health conditions and poor self-rated health seemed to have more obvious negative impacts on the sexual health of men compared to women.
Men were more concerned about their sexual activities and function than women and, with increasing age, these concerns tended to become more common. Sexually active women were less dissatisfied with their overall sex lives than men, and also reported decreasing levels of dissatisfaction with increasing age.
The study also found that many septuagenarians and octogenarians were still affectionate towards their partners, with 31 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women reporting frequent kissing or petting. Among those who reported any sexual activity in the past three months, 1 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women reported they felt obliged to have sex.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “The fact this is the first time that people over 80 years old have been included in this kind of research highlights how often the public health needs of older people, including sexual health, are ignored or overlooked.
“With an ageing population it is important that providers of sexual health services understand the needs of older people in both clinical settings and when developing information and advice.
“These recent findings now need to be used to improve sexual health advice and information for older people.”
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