For elderly, sex doesn’t have to get old

For elderly, sex doesn’t have to get old

Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:47am EDT

By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Getting old does not mean saying so long to sex, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

More than three-quarters of American men aged 75 to 85 and half of women that age are still interested in sex, a survey of the elderly by University of Chicago researchers found.

“It’s not age per se; that when you get to 80 it’s all over with,” said sociologist Edward Laumann, who led the study of 3,000 American men and women aged 57 to 85 who lived at home, not in nursing homes.

“It’s driven by more proximate factors such as if you become obese, or you’re smoking too much, or you contract diabetes. Medications can depress sexual interest. The aging process itself is not a major factor driving these results,” he said in a telephone interview.

Laumann and his team, who performed a companion survey of younger adults nearly a decade ago, found that sexual dysfunction such as experiencing pain during sex or an inability to achieve orgasm tend to increase as adults reach middle age but then plateaus.

In the survey of elderly Americans, two-thirds of the men and nearly half the women had been sexually active in the past year, they reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The reasons for losing interest in sex are wrapped up in several physical and mental health factors, Laumann said.

“If sexual health goes to hell, it may be a canary in the mine shaft. It may be a sign of health problems,” Laumann said, urging doctors to investigate if sexual problems arise.

Chronic urinary tract infections and incontinence often suppress sex lives, he said.

Having a partner to have sex with can also be problematic for the elderly. Among women aged 70 and older, 70 percent have outlived or are separated from their spouses. Among men in that age group, 35 percent have lost a long-time partner.

If the surviving relationship is bad, that can snuff out the couple’s sex life, Laumann added.

“Anxiety is very clearly a big factor (in sexual dysfunction) for women, and depression in men,” he said. “And men can become very depressed because of sexual dysfunction.”

Erectile dysfunction increases from 31 percent among men aged 57 to 64 to more than 40 percent among older men. Laumann said he had found in other research that 14 percent of men of all ages had tried erectile dysfunction drugs.

Those who have attended college are less likely to have sexual problems than the less-educated, Laumann said, presumably because the educated tend to dismiss myths about sex and aging and are more likely to seek out answers.

Last month, Swedish researchers reported that 70-year-olds of both sexes are having more sex than they did 30 years ago, with 68 percent of married men and 54 percent of women saying they were having sex in 2001, up from 52 percent of men in the early 1970s and 30 percent of women.

(Editing by Maggie Fox)

From Reuter’s News 8/13/2008



Back in the late 1960s and early 1970ss, there was a TV show in the US called “Laugh-In” that featured fast-paced skits, quips, and of course, the ubiquitous fake news show. One of the regular features was an actor who played a very aged man that frequently made suggestive comments to the (younger and attractive) women on the show, and occasionally to another actor playing an older woman. He was always rebuffed, sometimes physically; the implication was that he was a “dirty” old man. The message that sunk into my pre-teen mind from that and other shows, was that at some point in life, sex was going to be a bad thing, so you’d better get it out of your system when you were young, because past (whatever “old” was) nobody was going to want to have it with you.

The amazing thing is that in the last 40 years, society has learned to be okay with non-married sexuality and homosexuality. We’ve learned to accept masturbation as normal, and we even give suggestions in some schools, relative to safety and disease.

So, why are we still not okay with old people having sex?

Is it because we’re not beautiful? Is it because we’ve got wrinkles? Some extra body fat? Hair growing out of various places? Scars, warts, liver spots?

Is it simply because we’re not young?

I’m going to remind you what media blog Gawker wrote about Kim Cattrall in their review about her new cable TV show:

The positively ancient fifty-something coital acrobat has signed on to play the lead in a new series […]

Hopefully by the time that I’m *cough*old*cough* societal attitudes will have changed, and I’ll be able to have sex with out feeling like I’m a “dirty old man.”

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Aging, Health, Marriage & Relationships, Sexuality & Aging and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to For elderly, sex doesn’t have to get old

  1. sexywhispers says:

    Tom–Glad to hear that science is FINALLY confirming what most women know…sex gets better with age. Women are more comfortable with their bodies and more sexually expressive. Men are more comfortable with the masculinity and giving to their partners. Sex is one place where age is a win-win situation!! ~~Dee


  2. Verity says:

    Tom, I’m 75 and still going strong with my well trained submissive lover. I can’t imagine not being sexually active. Win, win??? Damn tootin’


  3. Elle says:

    Well, what if we started a new media “trend”, that old is sexy, wrinkles are hot? After all, they represent more wisdom, no?


  4. Fuse says:

    Hell, I have so many years of no sex to make up for I’d better be able to keep… going (you thought I was going to say keep it up, didn’t you…) till the day I die.

    In fact that would be a great way to go out!


  5. GreyOwl says:

    I’m a believer of the ‘age is a state of mind’… I intend to love as long as I breathe. And keeping my health, as you are doing, is the best way to keep the quality of love I desire. I remember a story of an old gentleman in his 90’s going in for some minor surgery, asking the doctor if he can still have sex after the procedure. His wife is still blushing… but smiling.

    I regularly have lunch with an old gent in his early 80’s who is obviously making up for lost time, and hoping to go out as Fuse suggests. I agree,,,


  6. Em says:

    I’m okay with old people having sex.


  7. MissBonnie says:

    I’m not one to post jokes as comments, but this is rather fitting 😉

    An elderly couple, who were both widowed, had been going out with each other for a long time. Urged on by their friends, they decided it was finally time to get married.

    Before the wedding, they went out to dinner and had a long conversation
    regarding how their marriage might work.
    They discussed finances, living arrangements and so on.

    Finally, the old gentleman decided it was time to broach the subject of their physical relationship.

    How do you feel about sex?’ he asked, rather> tentatively. I would like it infrequently’ she replied. The old gentleman sat quietly for a moment, adjusted his glasses, then leaned over towards her and whispered, Is that
    one word or two?


  8. havingmycake says:

    I’m now in the 46-55 bracket on all those questionnaires you have to fill in which I suspect means that I am officially considered old. I certainly dont intend to stop having sex! Not now Ive discovered how to do it so well 🙂


  9. darklily says:

    I think you may get a laugh out of this:


  10. coquetteinbed says:

    I adore men who are much older than me, even twice my age (which makes them over 50), AS LONG AS they don’t LIE about their age! That just makes them pathetic. I understand why they would do that, but there’s nothing worse than a man who needs to gain confidence by subtracting years.


  11. Well, just my two cents of a recent observation here. I had a birthday this month and an older friend gifted me with tickets to see THE STEVE MILLER BAND and JOE COCKER.

    Aging hippies showed up in droves … tie-dyed tee shirts, ratty jeans, marijuana designs on pockets, shirts, hats, jewelry and anywhere else they could stick it. One guy had matching marijuana leaf ankle bracelets atop his sneakers. And then the fun began.

    If older people fuck like they rock out? NO PROBLEM!

    (and. BTW, I absolutely know for sure that they can … don’t you dare ask how I know that … ’cause I ain’t tellin’)


  12. Dee – I hope that one day we’ll all be on the same planet.

    Verity – can I ask how old your lover is? It’s just idle curiosity.

    Elle – we can try, but you know how trends are. Hell, just try finding a Hollywood actress over a size 4.

    Fuse – it might be a great way for you to die, but how would your partner feel?

    GO – if you don’t use it, you lose it.

    Em – Gosh. Uh, thanks. Did you mean with each other, or with younger people, too?

    Ms. Bon – LOL!

    Cake – I just got my AARP application a couple of months ago. Not sure what to do with it yet.

    DL – You know, I really want to believe that’s a true story.

    Coq – That’s unusual; most of the time I overhear girls saying “Ewww” in reference to older guys or actors or whatever.

    Ms. St. L – Sounds like an excellent time was had by all!


  13. Verity says:

    Tom, My lover is 70…..


  14. Ver – You little cradle robber, you!


  15. em says:

    Either way! As long as all parties involved are consenting, of course. If I was single I’d prefer to date men that are anywhere from 5 to… oh I don’t know… 10 years or so older than me. That’s not “elderly” by any stretch of the imagination but younger men are definitely not even slightly interesting to me.


  16. Em – that’s interesting. Over the years, I’ve had several relationships with women who were about 10 years older than me. For the most part, I’ve always been interested in women my age or older. I wonder if that will change in 10 years?


  17. Elle says:

    I’ve had both younger and older lovers, and I have to say, I doubt I’ll ever go again for younger, except when I’m an old cougar lusting after young flesh.

    As it is, Boy Toy is 14 years older than me, and I find him damn sexy. 😀


  18. em says:

    Older men are sexier than younger men… at least from where I’m standing. Like you said, in 10 years it may be a different story.


  19. darklily says:

    Have never really dated anyone significantly older…till now. Met someone a few weeks ago…he’s 9 years older.


  20. Elle says:

    Tom, it’s been a little while since you’ve written… You ok?


  21. Bethoven says:

    Tom, talking about older enjoying life: You previously commented on “Orgasm Logger “. Where did it go? The link does not work. Any idea of whats going on?


  22. darklily says:

    I’m going to echo Elle. Hopefully you are just too busy with Mrs. Edge to check in here.


  23. Sorry, sorry – I’ve been busy. Kids, family, work, and one of my favorite pastimes (arguing on teh internetz) has kept me occupied elsewhere.

    That, and I’ve been spending a lot of free time exercising and bike riding. I’m becoming fitness obsessed. I may need some of you to come by for an intervention if this keeps up.

    ::imagines a femdom intervention scene::

    Mmmmmmm 😉


  24. Elle says:

    Hey, no problem, you do what you want 😛 Was just a bit concerned. I think it’s a female thing, we get all motherly and all, you know.


  25. ::rolls eyes::

    That’s funny


  26. Elle says:

    lol you’re right, it IS funny. Think I was a little much drunk from going out, last night, when I wrote that. I’m probably too young to be allowed to be motherly with you 😀


  27. Hah, yes. Normally it costs me $250 an hour for someone your age to be that motherly with me 😉


  28. Elle says:


    K, I’mma shut up now 😛


  29. No, no, please don’t.

    I’ve saved $500 so far!


  30. Elle says:


    Oh stop.


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