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Marriage & Divorce

Expect a Better Sex Life Once You Get Older

Let’s be honest, if I told you that there are more 80-year-olds having a better sex life than the rest of us younger folk, you’d think (a) I’d gone mad (b) I was trying to make you lose your breakfast or (c) it was a very slow news day. Well, ya boo sucks to all of those ideas because I just received this press release on the wires.

Arousal is easier at 80 for women, and men over 80 are ‘more obliged’ to have sex with their partners than 50-79 year olds.

New research finds that over 80s report better sex lives than 50-79 year olds, but that more needs to be done to improve sexual healthcare for older people.

A new report published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University has analysed data from the Sexual Relations and Activities Questionnaire within the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to examine difficulties with sexual activities and function, attitudes towards sex and details about the current sexual partners of over 50s.

The data, gathered from over 7,000 over 50s, found that whilst self-reported difficulties in becoming aroused steadily increase in women aged 50-79, these then decrease after 80 to below the levels seen in 60-69 year olds.

It also found that women over 80 are dramatically more likely to share the sexual likes of their partner, feel emotionally close to them and not feel obligated to have sex with them than those aged 50-79.

Men over 80 also reported that they were more likely to share the sexual likes of their partner and feel emotionally close to them than those aged 50-79.

Using the Satisfaction with Life Scale measurement of subjective well-being, ‘How long will I love you?’ also found that for both men and women aged 50-90+, there was a positive association between frequency of kissing, fondling and petting and overall levels of subjective well-being.

However, whilst women’s subjective well-being continued to increase with frequency of intimate behaviour, subjective well-being was slightly lower amongst men who reported being intimate with their partners every day than it was for those who kissed or fondled their partners two to three times per week.

Despite the report’s findings on the importance of intimacy in later life, it concludes that not enough is being done to ensure older people have access to good sexual health care and support.

Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, Chief Executive, ILC-UK said:

“We know that many men and women remain sexually active throughout their lives, and that intimate relationships in later life can continue to have a positive impact of overall health and well-being.

Unfortunately, in 2017 there is still a need to dispel myths around relationships in later life. Organisations like the ILC-UK will continue to make the case for a life course approach to sexual health and relationships which sees advice and services available from the college to the care home.”

Dr. David Lee, Research Fellow, University of Manchester said:

“We know that positive sexuality and intimacy throughout the life course is linked to higher levels of happiness and well-being – irrespective of age. Older people have a right to good sexual health care and should be able to easily access joined up services to help them meet that goal.

Health professionals need to proactively engage with older people to better manage problems that impact on both individuals and couples sexual health and function. By normalising conversations around sex and older people, health professionals can help to counter stereotypes and misconceptions around sex in later life, which will ultimately improve public health.”

With 2 in 3 marriages breaking down, however, it is likely that many of us will be having sex with someone who hasn’t seen us in our prime or grown old with us, so what’s the best way to approach sex with a new partner as an older person to have a better sex life? 

If you’ve been in the same relationship for a huge chunk of your life, chances are that routine has set in. Routine with your former partner can mean there is often three of you in the bed at one time! That may be an entirely different chapter in your sexual repertoire but if the third person is just a ghost from a former life, how do you exorcise them and focus on the NOW?

While not limited by our age, neither should we forget that whilst swinging wildly from the chandeliers may be wonderful at 25, sex is not supposed to be an athletic competition. The benefit of age is the understanding what sex is really about; making a deep connection with another person. The one in front of you, not the one in your past.

Ironically, the advice to people at this stage of their sexual life is pretty much the same as the stuff you ignored when you were younger; take time to get to know your partner before jumping into bed with them. Youth may ignore the advice because of desperation or uncontrollable urges, but older people are not immune to making exactly the same mistake—with the same results. Sexual encounters you hope will add to your life can end off leaving you feeling far less emotionally satisfied with yourself and your life than before your knickers hit the floor!

Without wanting to dampen anyone’s ardour too much, it is also crucial to remember in the midst of your passion that age is not a barrier against sexual transmitted diseases. In the US alone, people aged 50 and over accounted for 17% (6,725) of the 39,513 HIV diagnoses in 2015. People aged 50 to 54 accounted for 45% (3,010) of the diagnoses among people aged 50 and over.

Age may not bring wisdom to all of us, so if your partner doesn’t take precautions, make sure you do. Unplanned pregnancies are not the worst thing that can happen to you, so just because you’re past child bearing age, don’t get too smug about the risks.

A better sex life should be balanced with good sense!

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