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Active Sex Life Could Improve Brain Function in Older Adults

Jun 26, 2017 05:55 AM EDT
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A new study from the University of Coventry, in collaboration with University of Oxford revealed that older adults who have an active sex life tends to have better brain function than those who do not.

The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences, found a link between regular sexual activity and improved visuospatial ability.

"People don't like to think that older people have sex - but we need to challenge this conception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and over, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general wellbeing," said lead researcher Dr Hayley Wright, from Coventry University's Centre for Research in Psychology, Behavior and Achievement, in a press release.

For the study, the researchers enrolled 73 people aged between 50 and 83. The participants, which included 28 men and 45 women, were asked to complete a questionnaire on how often they engage in sexual activity in the past 12 months. Their answers could be never, monthly or weekly. The questionnaires also include questions about their general health and lifestyle.

The participants also took standardized tests that measured their attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability. Interestingly, the participants who have an active sex life scored most highly in standard tests that focus on verbal fluency and visuospatial ability. However, the results in the standardized test that focus on attention, memory and language showed that all participants performed just as well regardless of the frequency of their sexual activity.

The researchers noted that the results of their study can only speculate whether the effects of active sexual life to brain function are driven by social or physical elements. More research is necessary to determine the underlying mechanism behind the beneficial effect of sexual activity to older adults.

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