Almost 60% of over 50s are sexually active

The research surveyed more than 8,000 older adults

Almost 60% of over 50s are sexually active

File photo of the hands of an elderly woman | Image: Peter Byrne PA Wire/PA Images

A new study released by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing at Trinity College Dublins found that frequent sexual activity is the norm among older people.

The research - appropriately published on St. Valentine's Day - found 59% of over 50s are sexually active and of those, 69% sexually active weekly or monthly.

The researchers also found that being sexually active has positive implications for a person’s health and their perception of ageing.

The study also highlights differences between men and women in terms of importance attributed to sex and frequency of sexual activity as each gender got older. For example, men reported more sexual activity than women at all ages. As well as that, the decline in women’s sexual activity with age was more rapid than that of men. 

The study also paints a picture of strong relationships among Ireland’s older adults, with a large majority of people reporting that they had a very close relationship with their spouse or partner and living with a spouse or partner being a key determinant in whether someone is sexually active.

However, a small proportion (9%) of currently unmarried or non-cohabiting respondents report having a romantic or intimate partner. Of those with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the large majority are sexually active (88%).

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Lead author of the report Joanna Orr, TILDA researcher said: "Our research shows that sexual activity is an important part of life for many of those aged 50 and over in Ireland, including significant proportions of those in their 60s, 70s and beyond. Continued research into this area is not only important for understanding the links between sex and health and happiness, but also to dispel the myth that sexual activity is incompatible with advancing age."

Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA said: "Where difficulties with sexual activity are present, effective treatments are available and we anticipate that the new data will reinvigorate GPs and healthcare professionals to enquire about patients’ sexual activity as part of routine clinical assessment and care."

The full report is available at www.tilda.ie