Sex isn’t something you leave behind in your youth, in fact, a new poll suggests more people are staying intimate as they age.
According to a poll, conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation published earlier this month, 40 per cent of people between the ages of 65 and 80 in the U.S. reported being sexually active.
“Sex is an important part of a romantic relationship for many older adults and it’s also important to quality of life,” says Dr. Erica Solway of the University of Michigan, who lead the poll. “We recognize this is an important topic that relates to their well-being and something that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.”
The data is similar across the board
The poll, which surveyed 1,002 in that specific age range, also found 73 per cent of participants were “satisfied” with their sex lives and two-thirds said they were interested in sex.
Solway adds 72 per cent of those in this age group had a current romantic partner and 92 per cent of these participants were in long-term relationships for more than 10 years.
But the news of seniors having sex shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody — even if it makes you uncomfortable, she adds. In February, another survey by Match.com in the U.S. found women aged 66 and men aged 64 reported having the “best sex of their lives.”
Experts say this could be because women, in particular, are much more comfortable with their bodies and seniors in general aren’t as tired or busy as younger adults.
STI rates in Canada also prove more seniors are getting intimate. According to a report from Health Canada to Global News in 2017, national rates of STIs for people 60 and over are relatively low, but since the early 2000s, the number of cases of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased significantly among seniors.
On top of this, men aged 60 and over particularly had high rates of STIs compared to women in the same age group.
Why is it still so taboo?
But Solway says while she can’t pinpoint exactly where the awkwardness of seniors engaging in sexual relationships comes from, it could have to do with ageism.
“People don’t want to think about getting older or older bodies, some people don’t want to think about themselves aging.”
She adds this age group may still be stigmatized, adding people may not give a lot of thought into this age group being sexually active.
Relationship expert Christina Jay of Preferred Match adds it could also be taboo because as a culture, we haven’t embraced aging.
“No one wants to think of their grandmother who bakes them cookies having or wanting sex. It just seems ‘wrong’ as society embraces youth, but we all have needs regardless of age,” she told Global News in 2017.
Talking about sex
Health also plays an important role in this, Solway adds. Not only does a healthy sex life mean an overall healthy life, she adds the poll also found some participants (17 per cent) were not comfortable telling anyone about sexual health problems — the poll found 62 per cent were likely to tell their health care providers.
Other experts have suggested because some doctors are not bringing up sexual health, they may be missing an opportunity to talk about safe sex or even mixing sex-related medications with other ones.
And as more research into this topic continues to be conducted, Solway says it should give more insight as to how people over 65 stay sexually active and intimate. She says one of the biggest takeaways from this poll is how women, in particular, were staying sexually active.
women in our poll were less likely to report being sexually active, but they were more likely than men to report being satisfied with their sex life. Some people may define sexual activity different and it’s possible that partners are finding other ways to maintain intimacy and connection in their relationship.”
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