December 6th, 2010
05:01 PM ET
Many older men sexually satisfied in 70s, 80s, even 90s
File this in the "age isn't anything but a number" category: Older men enjoy a satisfying sex life well in to their golden years, finds a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers surveyed about 2,800 men in Australia, ages 75 to 95, and found a third of them had at least one sexual encounter with a partner in the last year. 56 percent of those men reported satisfying sex lives. Sex was considered to be a "somewhat important" part of life for 48 percent of the respondents, including men ages 90 to 95.
"Sexuality is an innate component of our make-up as human beings," says Michael Reece, Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, who was not affiliated with the study. "We're sexual beings from birth until death."
The study did find that sexual activity decreased with age; study participants in their 70s had more sex than their peers in their 90s. Indeed, medical factors including decreased testosterone levels, prostate cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and depression were all associated with an absence of sexual activity among the men surveyed.
Plus, social factors such as having a partner who is not interested in sex, or not having a partner at all, were also found to limit a person's prospects for sex later in life.
"Men who have partners versus the ones who do not usually have a much different sexual profile and a much happier one," says Pepper Schwartz, the Sexuality, Love and Relationship Ambassador for the AARP. "Access is the issue, not desire."
The annals study affirms what Reece and his team discovered back in October after looking in to the sexual behaviors of older Americans. In a study funded by Church and Dwight, the company that makes Trojan condoms, they found that as many as 30 percent of Americans were sexually active in to their 80s. Both studies are part of a growing body of research looking at sex in a population often overlooked or thought of as asexual.
"As a society we don't really endorse the idea of older people looking for or finding sexual partners," says Reece.
Schwartz agrees and says an older person wanting to develop a sex life should feel empowered to start a new relationship.
"The hardest person to seduce is yourself," says Schwartz. "You have to get in to the right mindset, get over yourself and think that you are desirable. And once you do that... someone else will think that too."
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