according to Research published online on December 13, 2018 in the journal sexual medicineFrequent sexual activity can mean a more enjoyable life for older adults. Both men and women who reported any type of sexual activity in the previous year reported greater happiness than people who did not. Feeling emotionally close to a partner during sex was also associated with a more positive view of both sexes.
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More evidence that intimacy and connection are important for emotional health
He says these results are not surprising Pelin Bator, MDD., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Women’s Health Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who was not involved in the research. “We know that connection and intimacy are important for people at all stages of life,” says Dr. Batur. “It is important to remember that healthier people are more likely to engage in sexual activity. Therefore, it may be better health that contributes more to greater life satisfaction, as opposed to only sexual activity itself,” she says.
The search for a link between well-being and sexual problems
The study set out to investigate potential associations between sexual activity and problems and fears, and how these factors might affect the well-being of older adults. The researchers studied 3,045 men and 3,834 women living in England between the ages of 50 and 89, with an average of 64 years for men and 65 years for women. 74 percent of the men and 60 percent of the women were married or living with a partner, and 95 percent of the study participants were Caucasian.
Frequent kissing, contact, the key to a woman’s well-being
After allowing for social, demographic, and health issues, the researchers found that among sexually active men, frequent intercourse as well as frequent kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with increased enjoyment of life. For women, frequent kissing, fondling or foreplay was associated with greater enjoyment of life, but frequent intercourse was not. Frequent masturbation was not associated with greater enjoyment of life for both sexes. ‘Frequent’ was defined as two or more episodes per month.
Measuring people’s enjoyment of life
Enjoyment of life was assessed by the CASP-19 Pleasure Subscale (Control, Autonomy, Self-Awareness, and Comfort), which has been used in previous research to measure happiness and satisfaction of older adults. People were asked how these statements resonated with statements such as “I enjoy the things I do,” “I enjoy the company of others,” and “I feel totally energetic these days.”
Is intercourse more important to the well-being of men than women?
“The most interesting finding to us is that among sexually active men, frequent contact, kissing, foreplay or foreplay was associated with greater enjoyment of life,” he says. Lee Smith, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with experience in physical activity and exercise medicine at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and a study co-author. “However, more frequent kissing or foreplay between sexually active women was associated with greater enjoyment of life, but not intercourse,” Smith says. “It therefore appears that sexual intercourse may be more important for men than women in terms of promoting well-being, while women’s enjoyment is more related to other sexual activities.”
Insights into the future treatment of age-related sexual problems
Batur says these findings could help improve the way women’s sexual health drugs are developed and measured. “In the past, these medications were judged based on the amount of increased sexual activity that resulted from the use of these medications. If there were only one or two sexual acts over the course of a month, these medications were considered a failure,” she says.
Consider desire, satisfaction and future treatments for ED
Bator says studies like this highlight that it’s not just sex that contributes to self-actualization. “Going forward, medications should consider libido, satisfaction, pain, and other sexual areas that are important to women when judging whether potential new medications are beneficial. The subjective benefits to quality of life for women are probably more important than the subjective benefits to quality of life for women,” says Batur. How often sexual activity occurs after starting treatment.
The study found that sexual problems, such as difficulty maintaining an erection or achieving orgasm, were associated with lower life satisfaction. Concerns about lack of desire and frequency of sex also have a negative relationship to enjoyment of life.
“Health professionals should recognize that older adults are not asexual and that frequent, problem-free sexual life in this population is associated with better well-being,” Dr. Smith said in a statement. “However, the encouragement to try new locations and explore different types of sexual activities is not regularly given to older groups,” he added.
It’s hard to make generalizations about either gender from the survey results, Batur says. “What we do know is that sexual activity varies from person to person and can vary throughout their life for better or worse, depending on the circumstances,” she says. “Everyone we see in the office has their own story of what they are looking for in life and what makes them happy. One of the main points, which we can all agree on, is that the healthier a person is, the more likely they are to search for satisfying relationships, including sexual ones” , says Bator.
He said promoting overall wellness in later life is a public health priority Sarah Jackson, Ph.D., a senior research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at University College London in England, and a co-author of the study. “We know that psychological well-being is closely related to physical health, and as the population continues to age, the burden on health services increases,” she said in a statement. Dr. Jackson said that encouraging and supporting people to continue to enjoy a healthy sex life into old age can have benefits for both an individual’s health and the sustainability of health services.