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Decline in sexuality and wellbeing in older adults: a population-based study

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posted on 2023-08-30, 15:49 authored by Sarah E. Jackson, Joseph Firth, Nicola Veronese, Brendon Stubbs, Ai Koyanagi, Lin Yang, Lee Smith
Background: Age-related declines in sexuality and increase in mental health complications have been well documented. However, whether these two phenomena are related has not been explored. The present study therefore aimed to investigate associations between a decline in sexuality and markers of mental health and wellbeing. Method: Data were collected in 2012/13 from 2,614 men and 3,217 women participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a population-representative panel study of older adults (≥50y). Past-year declines in sexual desire, frequency of sexual activities, and sexual function were self-reported. Three markers of wellbeing (depressive symptoms, quality of life and life satisfaction) were assessed using validated scales. Associations between declines in sexuality and wellbeing were analysed using one-way independent analyses of variance, adjusted for a range of socio-demographic and health-related covariates. Results: Men and women who reported a past-year decline in sexual desire or frequency of sexual activities had a higher number of depressive symptoms (desire p=0.001, frequency p<0.001) and lower quality of life (all p<0.001). Decline in sexual desire was also associated with lower life satisfaction in men (p=0.012) and decline in frequency of sexual activities was associated with lower life satisfaction in women (p<0.001). Declines in erectile function in men and ability to become sexually aroused in women were also significantly associated with more depressive symptoms (p<0.001), lower quality of life (p<0.001) and lower life satisfaction (p<0.001 in men, p=0.024 in women). Conclusion: Older adults who experience a decline in sexuality report poorer wellbeing than those who do not.



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Journal of Affective Disorders





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Faculty of Science & Engineering

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