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Older Americans Have Active Sex Life: Why Physical Intimacy Still Matters Even In Old Age

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Findings of a new survey have revealed that a lot of older Americans have an active sex life.

Many Older Americans Are Sexually Active

Results of the National Poll on Healthy Aging showed that people between 65 and 80 years old are still sexually active. Nearly three-quarters of people in this age group also have a romantic partner and more than half of those with partners are sexually active.

The survey also revealed that nearly two-thirds of older adults claim to be interested in sex and more than half think that sex is important to the quality of life.

Three percent of women and 18 percent of the men surveyed have likewise recently taken medications or supplements for improving sexual function, and most claim these were helpful.

Alison Bryant, from AARP research, which co-sponsored the poll, said that the survey showed that people's need and interest in sexual intimacy does not stop at a particular age.

Physical Intimacy Matters

While older adults seldom talk about their sex life, experts said that physical intimacy still matters regardless of age. Erica Solway, from the University of Michigan and co-associate director of the poll, said that it is closely associated with health, quality of life, and well-being.

"Romantic relationships are important to well-being and quality of life at any age," Solway and colleagues wrote in their report.

"The majority of adults age 65 to 80 indicated that sex is an important part of a romantic relationship at any age and important to their quality of life, though only about half of those in a relationship reported being sexually active."

Studies have shown the physical benefits of physical intimacy. A study published in Psychological Reports showed that participating in sex can give the immune system a boost. Researchers found that sexually active people have higher levels of an antibody known as immunoglobulin A (IgA).

In a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers found that men in their 50s who have sex at least twice a week have 45 percent reduced risk of heart disease compared with their counterparts who have sex less frequently.

It isn't also just the physical body that gains benefits from sex. A study published in Emotion also showed that frequent sex can add more meaning to life.

"These data provide evidence to support the continual consideration of sex in empirical work and theoretical models of elements that comprise healthy relationships and a good life." researchers wrote in their study.

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