Updated 14 July 2018

This study on older adults’ sex lives proves your sex life isn’t doomed

Research shows that older people are pretty sexually active.

The myth that your sex life suffers as you get older has officially been busted. Results from the National Poll on Healthy Aging has shown that older people are pretty active, sexually at least.

The poll conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation asked 1 002 people the questions we’ve all been dying to hear the answers too but are too impatient to wait and see for ourselves.

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So how many people between the ages of 65 and 80 are actually sexually active? Well, it’s much higher than you might think; 40% of 65 to 80-year-olds are having sex. Almost three quarters of those polled have a romantic partner and 54% of them are sexually active.

But what about the idea that you lose interest in sex as you get older? Well, it’s just not true. Nearly two-thirds of those polled said they are interested in sex and over half said sex is important to their quality of life, regardless of whether they were sexually active or not.

“This survey just confirms that the need for and interest in sexual intimacy doesn’t stop at a certain age,” said Dr Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP.

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Okay but they’re not satisfied with their sex lives, surely? Well no, that’s a misconception too. Seventy-three percent said they are satisfied with their current sex life. And 69-year-old actress, Helen Mirren agrees. She shocked people when she said her sex life is much better now than it ever was when she was younger. Although there were some notable differences between people of different ages, health levels and genders.

Those between the ages of 65 and 70 were almost twice as likely as those in their late 70s to be sexually active. And while a third of those in their late 60s said they were extremely interested in sex, only 19% in their late 70s said they were.

And if you’re dating a woman, your interest in sex may not be at the same level when you’re older. Thirty-one percent of women were sexually active compared to 51% of men. But women were more likely to be extremely satisfied with their sex lives. But how important was sex as part of a romantic relationship? Eighty-four percent of men said it was and 69% of women agreed.

Those numbers are pretty telling of a gender gap with regards to sex. The biggest difference, though, was that half the men were extremely interested in sex, while only 12% of women agreed.

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And the little blue pill that’s used in movies everywhere? Only 18% of men and 3% of women had taken medication/supplements to improve sexual function in the previous two years. Worryingly, only 17% of these older adults had spoken to their doctor about sexual health in the same time. And most of those who had, had to bring up the topic.

“Although most older adults say that they would talk with their doctor about sexual concerns, health care providers should routinely be asking all of their older patients about their sexual health and not assume that bringing up the issue will offend or embarrass them,” says Dr Bryant.

This is worrying because it’s clear from this poll that not only are older adults still interested in sex, they actually are still having sex. So if you’re stressing about how your sex life will suffer, worry not. But keep in mind that conversations about sexual health aren’t likely to be brought up by your doctor so if you have issues or questions, you’re going to have to bring it up yourself.

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