Sexual Activity is Associated with Greater Enjoyment of Life in Older Adults
journal contributionposted on 2023-08-30, 15:47 authored by Lee Smith, Lin Yang, Nicola Veronese, Pinar Soysal, Brendon Stubbs, Sarah E. Jackson
Background: Relationships between sexual activity, problems and concerns and wellbeing among older adults have not been fully explored. Aim: To investigate associations between sexual activity, problems and concerns and experienced wellbeing in a representative sample of older adults. Methods: Cross-sectional analyses from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Sexual behavior, problems and concerns were assessed by self-completion questionnaire. Covariates included age, partnership status, socio-economic status, smoking status, alcohol intake, limiting long-standing illness, and depressive symptoms. Data were analyzed using one-way independent analyses of variance. Main Outcome: Enjoyment of life was assessed with the pleasure subscale from CASP-19, a validated measure of quality of life specific to older age. Results: Data were available on sexual activity and enjoyment of life for a total of 3,045 men and 3,834 women (mean=64.4 in men, 65.3 in women). Men and women who reported any sexual activity in the past year had significantly higher mean enjoyment of life scores than those who were not sexually active (men=9.75 vs. 9.44, p<0.001, women=9.86 vs. 9.67, p=0.003). Among sexually active men, frequent (≥2 times a month) sexual intercourse (p<0.001) and frequent kissing, petting or fondling (p<0.001) were associated with greater enjoyment of life. Among sexually active women, frequent kissing, petting or fondling was also associated with greater enjoyment of life (p<0.001) but there was no significant association with frequent intercourse (p=0.101). Concerns about one’s sex life and problems with sexual function were strongly associated with lower levels of enjoyment of life in men, and to a lesser extent in women. Conclusion: This is among the first studies to show that wellbeing is higher among older adults when they are sexually active. Preferences regarding the expression of sexual activity differed between the sexes. Further longitudinal research is required in order to confirm a causal association between sexual activity and wellbeing.
Publication titleSexual Medicine
- Accepted version