Older and having sex: 60% of adults aged over 50 are sexually active, survey finds

Trinity College Dublin study finds two-thirds of this age group are having sex weekly or monthly

Sexual healing: The TCD study revealed that older men have more sex than older women. File photograph: Getty Images

Sexual healing: The TCD study revealed that older men have more sex than older women. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Bing Crosby once crooned that love is wasted on the young. Ireland’s middle-aged and late middle-aged agree, since they are having plenty of sex and feeling all the better for it.

Six out of 10 adults aged over 50 are sexually active, most of them regularly, according to a Trinity College Dublin study released to mark St Valentine’s Day.

The study of 8,000 adults published by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing paints a positive picture of the little-studied and infrequently discussed sexual lives of older people.

Two-thirds of those over 50 are sexually active. Two-thirds are having sex weekly or monthly, “including significant proportions of those in their 60s, 70s and beyond”.

Saying that sex is an important part of people’s lives, the report’s lead author Joanna Orr said continued research was important to understand the links between sex and health.

Advancing age

Moving to “dispel the myth” that sex is incompatible with advancing age, the Tilda academic said those who are having sex are more positive about getting older and less likely to consider themselves as old.

Meanwhile, the sexually active enjoy better health, with fewer long-term conditions or disabilities and suffer from less depression. However, sex does fall away as people edge into their late sixties, and beyond.

Three-quarters of 50- to 64-year-olds have sex occasionally, but just 23 per cent of over-75s do so. Three-quarters of those over 50 living with a partner have sex, compared with one-third of those single, separated, or divorced.Older men have more sex than older women, and the decline in women’s sexual activity is more rapid.

The study suggests the difference is due to women being more likely than men to be widowed at older ages.

Urging people to get medical help if necessary, Tilda’s principal investigator, Rose Anne Kenny said the findings will “reinvigorate” GPs to inquire about the sex lives of their patients “as part of routine clinical assessment and care”.