SASKATCHEWAN (CBC) – Today’s 70-year-olds are having good sex, and they’re having it more often than 70-year-olds at any other time in the last 30 years, according to a Swedish study.
Women in this age group are particularly satisfied with their sex lives, with more reporting having orgasms and fewer reporting not having had an orgasm at the age of 70.
In a study published online Tuesday in the British Medical Journal, researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden studied attitudes to sex among four representative population samples of 70-year-olds in Sweden.
“Our study … shows that most elderly people consider sexual activity and associated feelings a natural part of later life,” the authors conclude.
They interviewed groups of septuagenarians in 1971-72, 1976-77, 1992-93, and 2000-01. In total, more than 1,500 people age 70 were interviewed about different aspects of their sex lives including sexual dysfunctions, marital satisfaction and sexual activity.
The authors found that over the 30-year period, the number of 70-year-olds of both sexes reporting sexual intercourse increased: married men from 52 per cent to 68 per cent, married women from 38 per cent to 56 per cent, unmarried men from 30 per cent to 54 per cent, and unmarried women from 0.8 per cent to 12 per cent.
The study also showed that while the proportion of women reporting low satisfaction with their sex lives decreased, the proportion of men reporting low satisfaction increased. The authors suggest this might be because it is now more acceptable for men to admit “failure” in sexual matters.
Overall, the majority of men and women in relationships who were surveyed in 2000-01 said they were happy with their sex lives. Fifty-two per cent of those women, and 57 per cent of the men, reported having very happy sexual relationships, up from 35 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men polled in 1971-72.
The findings point to the important role sex plays in the lives of older people and is a welcome contribution to the limited literature about sexual behaviour in this age group, Peggy Kleinplatz, a professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, writes in an accompanying editorial.
“Much of the literature on sexuality in elderly people focuses on sexual problems, leaving clinicians with the impression that older adults have either dismal or non-existent sex lives,” she writes.
Kleinplatz said she hopes the research will highlight the need for doctors to be trained to ask all patients, regardless of age, about their sexual concerns.