It looks like things have gotten spicier for seniors since the 1970s, for a new study out of Sweden says 6 in 10 women, and 7 in 10 men over 70 years old are highly satisfied with their sex lives.
Hailing from Sahlgrenska Academy, author Dr Nils Beckman concluded that sexual activity among 70 year-olds has increased from 12% to 34% for women and from 47% to 66% for men since the 1970s.
Seniors' sexual activity has increased not just in frequency, but in quality as well, for 62% of women and 71% of men reported being highly satisfied with their sex lives.
By contrast, only 41% of women and 58% of men described their sex lives in such a way in the 1970s, according to the data.
"A general sense of well-being, comfortable circumstances, good physical condition and vibrant mental health all contribute to sexual satisfaction," says Beckman. "Previous sexual experiences and the quality of the relationship also play a role."
Beckman identified three underlying factors – improved quality, childhood experiences and gender roles – that could determine whether individuals will maintain a healthy sex life into the golden years or not.
A senior citizen's sex life is often a product of childhood experiences according to Beckman who concluded that experiencing poverty, family troubles and corporal punishment in childhood could reduce sexual desire in middle and old age.
Traditional gender roles within a senior couple are likely to determine how long they keep going, he says, for the man's sexual appetite is what keeps the flame alive as a couple's years turn golden.
"In other words, our studies suggest that women's desire is not decisive for how active they are," says Beckman. "One reason may be the gender roles that these generations grew up with, which dictate that men always take the initiative."
Beckman's research – his doctoral thesis – also reveals that individuals have sexual feelings well into their 90s.
"While unlikely to be active at that age, they talk about their sexual thoughts and dreams," he says, "Often regretting that they no longer have the chance to share intimacy with another person."
Beckman advises healthcare professionals that it's never too late to talk about sex with their patients.
Data for the study was shared from the University of Gothenburg Center for Aging and Health (AgeCap). Beckman's thesis is available online. – AFP Relaxnews