Happier sex lives once you get older

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Let’s be honest, if I told you that there are more 80 year old’s having better sex than the rest of us younger folk, you’d think a) I’d gone mad b) I was trying to make you lose your breakfast of c) it was a very slow news day. Well ya boo sucks to all of those ideas because I just received this press release on the wires in time for Valentines Day.

Arousal easier at 80 for women, and men over 80 ‘more obliged’ to have sex with their partners than 50-79 year olds

New research finds over 80s report happier sex lives than 50-79s, but that more needs to be done to improve sexual healthcare for older people

A new report published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University has analysed data from the Sexual Relations and Activities Questionnaire within the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to examine difficulties with sexual activities and function, attitudes towards sex and details about the current sexual partners of over 50s.

The data, gathered from over 7000 over 50s found that whilst self-reported difficulties in becoming aroused steadily increase in women aged 50-79, these then decrease after 80 to below the levels seen in 60-69 year olds.

It also found that women over 80 are dramatically more likely to share the sexual likes of their partner, feel emotionally close to them and not feel obligated to have sex with them than those aged 50-79.

Men over 80 also reported that they were more likely to share the sexual likes of their partner and feel emotionally close to them than those aged 50-79.

However, men over 80 also reported that they felt a greater degree of obligation to have sex with their partner than at any age between 50-79.

Men over 80 were six times more likely to report feeling obligated to have sex with their partner than men aged 50-59 and 70-79, and three times more likely than those aged 60-69.

Using the Satisfaction with Life Scale measurement of subjective wellbeing, ‘How long will I love you?’ also found that for both men and women aged 50-90+, there was a positive association between frequency of kissing, fondling and petting and overall levels of subjective wellbeing.

However, whilst women’s subjective wellbeing continued to increase with frequency of intimate behaviour, subjective wellbeing was slightly lower amongst men who reported being intimate with their partners every day than it was for those who kissed or fondled their partners 2/3 times per week.

However, despite the report’s findings on the importance of intimacy in later life, it concludes that not enough is being done to ensure that older people have access to good sexual health care and support.

Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, Chief Executive, ILC-UK said:

We know that many men and women remain sexually active throughout their lives, and that intimate relationships in later life can continue to have a positive impact of overall health and wellbeing.

Unfortnately, in 2017 there is still a need to dispel myths around relationships in later life. Organisations like the ILC-UK will continue to make the case for a life course approach to sexual health and relationships which sees advice and services available from the college to the care home.

Dr David Lee, Research Fellow, University of Manchester said:

‘We know that positive sexuality and intimacy throughout the lifecourse is linked to higher levels of happiness and well-being – irrespective of age. Older people have a right to good sexual health care and should be able to easily access joined up services to help them meet that goal.

Health professionals need to proactively engage with older people to better manage problems that impact on both individuals and couples sexual health and function. By normalising conversations around sex and older people, health professionals can help to counter steretypes and misconceptions around sex in later life, which will ultimately improve public health’

To view an interview with report authors Dr David Lee and Professor Josie Tetley (2 minutes 52 seconds) visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMX9nGOE_OY&feature=youtu.be


Dave Eaton at ILC-UK davideaton@ilcuk.org.uk 02073400440 or 07531 164 886 or Dr David Lee, University of Manchester at 07944464625.

The International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) is a futures organisation focussed on some of the biggest challenges facing Government and society in the context of demographic change.

Much of our work is directed at the highest levels of Government and the civil service, both in London and Brussels. We have a reputation as a respected think tank which works, often with key partners, to inform important decision-making processes.

Our policy remit is broad, and covers everything from pensions and financial planning, to health and social care, housing design, and age discrimination. We work primarily with central government, but also actively build relationships with local government, the private sector and relevant professional and academic associations.



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