By Les Goldberg
Do you still “do it”?
In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that question was asked of 3005 seniors ages 55 to 85 (1550 women and 1455 men) to find out how aging impacts sexual activity among Americans.
The study revealed that many older adults are sexually active, but women are less likely than men to have a spousal or other intimate relationship. Among the respondents who were sexually active, the frequency of sex was lower among those who were 75-85 years of age. Not surprising, but 54 percent of the oldest group reported having sex at least two to three times per month and 23 percent reported having sex once per week or more.
In the youngest age bracket, 55 to 74, 58 percent of the respondents reported that they still frequently engage in sex, including oral sex and masturbation. “The frequency of sexual activity reported by respondents who were sexually active was similar to that reported among adults 18 to 59 in a 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, the only other comprehensive, population-based study of sexuality in the United States,” the study reported.
“The frequency of sexual activity,” the report continues, “did not decrease substantially with increasing age through 74 years of age, despite a high prevalence of bothersome sexual problems, primarily erectile difficulties (37 percent) in men and low desire (43 percent), vaginal lubrication (39 percent) and inability to climax (34 percent) in women.”
The study indicated that men and women in poor health are less likely to be sexually active and older Americans with sexual problems generally do not discuss them with their physicians who could determine if they are symptoms of more serious illnesses, such as diabetes, infection, urological diseases or cancer.
“Age has quite an effect on sexuality, and it is important to see that old people vary in this respect,” according to John Bancroft, senior researcher with the Kinsey Institute.
For instance, the study suggests that women may become less interested in sex after menopause or because they are widowed or divorced and don’t have a partner.
Some older women who were raised at a time when they were expected to service the needs of their men or to make babies did so without pleasure and were happy “to be done with it.”
Many women 75 and older are not interested in sex “but want a social partner, to dance with or go to dinner or the movies,” says Patty Jordan, a senior center manager in Florida.
For men, it is a very different story. According to one New York doctor, men remain “sexually interested and active” into their 80s and 90s. Estimates suggest more than 40 million men worldwide have been able to continue “doing it” in their later years because of medications such as Viagra.
Says retired research physician J. Donald Capra, the notion of retiring from sex is “…extremely common. Over a period of time, a lot of happily married people simply stop having sex or only on special occasions. It may not have been discussed, but it simply happens. It’s the way it is for them.”
If this subject intrigues you, I suggest you visit your nearest cinema and see Hope Springs with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.
Les Goldberg, APR is an award-winning, experienced journalist and public relations practitioner. His firm, Les Goldberg Public Relations, is one of Southern California’s pioneer public relations agencies specializing in high technology and consumer electronics.
Throughout his career Les has shared his knowledge and experience as a part-time professor for the marketing and business schools at several Southern California universities, including UCI, Chapman University and California State Universities in Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills.
Today, in addition to his agency and teaching responsibilities, Les is a columnist for senior publications, including his popular “The Gadget Geezer” column which appears in Senior Reporter, Not Born Yesterday, Life After 50, Examiner.com and OCActiveSeniors.com. As a full-time journalist, he was a staff writer for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Glendale News-Press, Culver City Star-News, Stars & Stripes Europe, OC Metro, OC Home & Outdoors and Digital Photographer.
Among the companies that have benefited from Les Goldberg’s brand of public relations include Doctors Telehealth Network, AST Research, Ashton-Tate, US Robotics, Phoenix Technologies, Odetics, MAI/Basic Four, American Home Theater, Inland Technologies; Freedom Innovations, Flex-Foot, Incline SoftWorks, USA Wireless Inc., D-Link Systems, Bell Micro, Seiko Instruments and Etak, Inc., a division of Sony.
Les holds a Certificate in Public Relations from UCLA, bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge and accreditation (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America where he served two terms as president of the Orange County chapter and member of the PRSA National Board of Directors. A past winner of the chapter’s Distinguished Service Award, he has been frequently honored for his achievements and contributions to his profession and his community.
Visit Les’ site at www.LesGoldberg.com