Healthy sexual ageing?

What do we know about the sex lives of older adults across Europe? And how does this fit with ideas about ‘healthy sexual ageing’?

Over the past two years we have carried out research that explores the sexual behaviours and attitudes of women and men aged 60-75 years across four European countries (Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal).

We found that:

  • Many were sexually active and engaged in a range of sexual activities
  • Being in good health alongside feeling emotionally close to the partner during sex maintained sexual interest and enjoyment
  • Across all countries, 40% – 60% reported being sexually satisfied
  • Portuguese women and men, and Norwegian women, thought that sex was good for well-being
  • Whereas Danish women and men, and Norwegian men, thought that sex was neither good nor bad for well-being
  • High numbers of older adults reported a sexual difficulty
  • And the majority of these had not talked to their healthcare practitioner about it
  • The reasons varied, from not being bothered about the sexual difficulty to waiting to see if it got better on its own
  • But they were more likely to have sought professional help if they experienced distress about sex
  • Many preferred to talk with their friends or partner about a sexual issue rather than to seek professional help

This is just a snapshot of the findings from our survey that was carried out with 3820 people (I’ll add more findings when we have them).

But these insights help us to understand an area that is rarely acknowledged or talked about. They also help us to inform health and social care services so that we improve patient care.

Another part of the project involved talking to older adults to gain a deeper insight into these issues. Watch this space for those results.

Further details about the project including the team and publications can be found here.

Photo from the Tena Lady #Ageless advertising campaign


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