Older Adults Agree Sex Is Important Part of Relationships

Alicia Farmer
May 4, 2018

But, it's still not clear how often older adults' health problems prevented them from being sexually active.

According to a University of MI poll released today, most older Americans are interested in sex if they are with a romantic partner which are sexually active and many don't seem interested in sex or don't even talk about sex with their partner or clinician.

Data from the National Poll on Healthy Aging has revealed that 40 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 80 are sexually active, disproving common assumptions about the intimate lives of seniors. Of that group, 18 per cent of men and three per cent of women admitted popping pills to get things going in the bedroom. Meanwhile, only 31 percent of women were sexually active, and only 12 percent were interesting in having sex. Just over half of men were sexually active, compared with 31 percent of women, the survey found.

The poll, carried out by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, found almost three-quarters of the group had a romantic partner and 54 per cent of those were sexually active - with 73 per cent satisfied.

Almost two-thirds of adults 65 to 80 years old say they're interested in sex, and more than half say that sex is important to their quality of life, according to a new poll that seeks to shed light on a little-discussed topic. However, only 17 percent of older adults said they have discussed their sexual health with a doctor in the past two years. Forty percent indicated that they were now sexually active; sexual activity decreased with age. But, she said, most people who had spoken to their doctor had brought the topic up themselves - which suggests doctors are not asking. Only 28 percent of those with fair or poor health said they were extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives.

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Perhaps the biggest takeaway of the poll, which was sponsored by the AARP, is that "the need for and interest in sexual intimacy doesn't stop at a certain age", said AARP Senior Vice President of Research Alison Bryant in a statement. "To this end, conversations about sex in a relationship are important".

Although seniors were overall interested in sex, there were some noticeable differences when it came to gender. Only 69 percent of the women surveyed agreed that sexual intercourse was important.

Most older adults do not feel comfortable talking about sexual issues with their doctor, he said - often because they're anxious they will embarrass the doctor. Just 17% of respondents said they had discussed sexual health with a medical provider in the last two years, and 17% said they would not talk to anyone about issues related to sexual health.

The poll results are based on answers from a nationally representative sample of 1,002 people ages 65 to 80. Laptops and Internet access were provided to poll respondents who did not already have it.

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