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Survey Reveals About 40 Percent Of US Adults Ages 65 To 80 Are Sexually Active

May 04, 2018 10:41 PM EDT
Elderly couple
A new poll by University of Michigan's National Poll on Healthy Aging reveals that an impressive chunk of Americans over 65 years old are sexually active.
(Photo : Philippe Huguen | AFP/Getty Images)

The seniors are doing fine with their sex lives. Contrary to popular belief, sex remains an important part of aging, according to newly emerged findings.

The research, which polled a sample of 1,002 people, seeks to shed more light on the sex lives of older adults, including their approach on sexual health.

Sex Lives Of Senior Adults

The new poll by the National Poll on Healthy Aging reveals that 40 percent of adults ages 65 to 80 are sexually active. Meanwhile, 73 percent say they're satisfied with their sex life.

In the same age range, nearly 75 percent have a romantic partner, of which 54 percent are sexually active.

Regardless of being currently active or not, almost two-thirds of the older adults reveal that they're interested in sex. More than half consider sex to be important when gauging quality of life.

"This survey just confirms that the need for and interest in sexual intimacy doesn't stop at a certain age," Alison Bryant, Ph.D., senior vice president of research for AARP, points out in the report.

AARP, an aging advocacy organization, contributed funding for the poll.

Sexual Health

The poll also explores how senior citizens are approaching sex in relation to health, such as medication and doctors.

While many are sexually active, only 17 percent of the participants have discussed their sexual health with a doctor or health care provider. Most say they brought it up, which implies a possible need for doctors to be more proactive in initiating these conversations with senior patients.

"Sexual health among older adults doesn't get much attention but is linked closely to quality of life, health and well-being," says University of Michigan's Erica Solway, Ph.D., co-associate director of the poll. "It's important for older adults and the clinicians who care for them to talk about these issues and about how age-related changes in physical health, relationships, lifestyles and responsibilities such as caregiving, affect them."

When it comes to medication, the poll discovered that only 18 percent of older men and 3 percent of older women have taken supplements to boost sexual function in the past two years.

Health, Gender Gaps

There are several factors contributing to sexual activity even within the demographic of adults between 65 and 80. Health, gender, and even age play huge roles in determining sexual activity — or even the desire to seek out sex.

Older adults who are in good health are much more likely to have sex (45 percent) than those in poor health (22 percent).

When it comes to gender, only 31 percent of women are sexually active, which is a lot less than the 51 percent of men. A majority of both genders agree that sex is an important part of a romantic relationship — 84 percent of men, 69 percent of women — but interest in sex differs a lot as well. The polls found that only 12 percent of older women are extremely or very interested in sex as opposed to the 50 percent of older men who are.

USA Today notes that this recent poll offer findings that are similar to a study published 10 years ago by the University of Chicago. However, Solway says that the two used varying methods and cannot be compared.

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