- WASHINGTON (AFP) - Sex is
an important and satisfying element in the lives of a majority of middle-aged
and senior Americans, according to a broad new study sponsored by American
Association of Retired Persons, the national organization for the elderly.
- The report, released Tuesday, said that more than half
of those polled were extremely or somewhat satisfied with their sex lives.
- Cutting against the assumptions of America's "youth
culture," the number of people viewing their partners as romantic
or physically attractive did not decline with age, according to the study.
- Out of 10 men aged 45 to 59, six gave their partners
the highest possible ratings for being "physically attractive."
By age 75, 64 percent of men still gave this same high rating to their
- Among women, 52 percent in their 40s and 50s gave their
partners the highest possible rating, while 57 percent of those 75 and
older gave the same response.
- Some 29 percent of the women ages 45 to 59 said their
partners were romantic, and that jumped to 53 percent for those 75 and
older. Among men, 37 percent of those in the younger group and 42 percent
of those 75 and older called their partners romantic.
- "What we found out with this study is that yes,
there is a sex life after 45 and that the graying of the boomer generation
is having an enormous impact on how society thinks, feels and acts in the
bedroom," said Hugh Delehanty, editor of Modern Maturity magazine,
which sponsored the study.
- The survey revealed a generation gap in sexual attitudes
between midlife women - those 45 to 59 - and women over 75.
- Only 36 percent of the younger group think "people
should not have a sexual relationship if they are not married," while
66 percent of women 75 and older believe such relationships are wrong.
- And older women are far less likely to be sexually active
than older men. Only 21 percent of women 75 and older have partners, compared
with 58 percent of men in the same age group.
- Co-author Steve Brody of the book "Renew Your Marriage
at Midlife" says studies like this are increasingly important because
they help break down stereotypes.
- "No action (no sex) often follows belief,"
he said. "People are then more likely to step into an asexual relationship
when they become older. Young people have a tendency of believing their
parents are not having sex, when in fact we are going at it."
- When it comes to sexual activity, the study indicates,
surprisingly, that Viagra and other treatments designed to enhance sexual
performance haven't changed life that much. Among men, 33 percent reported
having sex once a week or more after using the drug or treatment, compared
with 25 percent reporting the same frequency of sexual intercourse before
- But about 60 percent of those using Viagra and other
treatments said their satisfaction with their sex lives was enhanced.
- More than 6 in 10 men age 45 to 59 and women age 45 to
54 report they engage in sexual intercourse once a week or more, as do
more than 1 in 4 of those 75 and older.
- According to the study, relationships are even more important
than sexual activity for most partners, regardless of age. Some 92 percent
of men and 87 percent of women say a good relationship with a spouse or
partner is important to their quality of life.
- Reported sexual activity declines with age for both men
and women, as health declines and many lose their partners.
- Declining health also affects sexual activity and sexual
satisfaction as people age, and the survey shows that substantial minorities
are not being treated for some ailments that may be affecting their sex
lives. More than half of those who report no major disease or depression
say they engage in sexual intercourse at least once a week, compared with
around 3 in 10 of those with depression or some other major disease.