Study of nearly 7,000 older adults shows greater levels of enjoyment and wellbeing among those who report more frequent sexual activity.
LONDON — Even in our senior years, having sex regularly — or even just fooling around — can significantly improve wellbeing and contentment in life, a new study finds.
Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University and University College London found seniors who reported any type of sexual activity within the previous 12 months felt greater levels of enjoyment and satisfaction in their lives compared to sexually inactive individuals. Results were based on survey data from 6,879 participants in England who were 65 years old, on average.
“The findings of our study suggest that it may be beneficial for physicians to query geriatric patients about their sexual activity and offer help for sexual difficulties, such as problems with erections, as sexual activity helps older people live more fulfilling lives,” says Dr. Lee Smith, a reader in exercise medicine at Anglia Ruskin, in a media release.
Smith, along with co-author Sarah Jackson, found there were differences for men and women based on the type of sexual activity. Older women may improve their wellbeing more from intimate touching than from having sex. Specifically, women who reported a greater frequency of kissing, petting, and fondling felt more satisfied in their lives. They also felt emotionally closer to their partner during sex, but intercourse did not significantly improve their overall levels of enjoyment or satisfaction in life.
Conversely, older men who were happy with their sex lives and had intercourse more frequently reported greater enjoyment in life overall.
In other words, and perhaps not surprisingly, having sex was more crucial for older men to feel content, while women’s wellbeing was more connected to affectionate acts.
“Health professionals should acknowledge that older adults are not asexual and that a frequent and problem-free sex life in this population is related to better wellbeing. However, encouragement to try new positions and explore different types of sexual activities is not regularly given to ageing populations,” says Smith.
The full study was published in the open access journal Sexual Medicine.