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Home About Us Worlds Greatest Retirement Detectives Looking for senior sex? Select a Swede

Looking for senior sex? Select a Swede

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A new study, published online Wednesday by the British Medical Journal, found that Swedish 70-year-olds were more likely to be having sex -- and enjoying sex -- in 2000-2001 than Swedish 70-year-olds in 1971-1972.


The researchers only interviewed Swedish seniors, so it's unclear how reflective the results are of the sexual behaviour of counterparts in other countries, admitted lead author Nils Beckman, a PhD student at Gothenburg University's Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology.


"But on the other side, why shouldn't it be the same? I think in the Western world it's quite similar," Beckman said, dismissing the notion that Swedes have a healthier attitude towards sex -- and therefore might be more inclined to enjoy sex into their 70s -- than North Americans.
"People think Sweden was kind of a forerunner when it comes to sexual matters. But I think ... it's a little bit of a myth," he said from Gothenburg, Sweden.


An expert in sexuality at the University of Ottawa called the findings a welcome addition to the limited pool of scientific literature on the topic of sexuality in older people.
And Peggy Kleinplatz said physicians -- many of whom are uncomfortable talking with patients of any age about sex -- should keep the findings in mind during their consultations.


"Given that sex plays an increasingly valuable role in the lives of older men and women, Beckman and colleagues' study reinforces the dictum that doctors should ask -- and should be trained to ask -- every patient, regardless of age, `Any sexual concerns?"' Kleinplatz wrote in an editorial published by the journal as a companion to the study.
The study was based on an analysis of data collected in the latest round of a long-term Swedish study of people aged 70. Results from the latest crop of 70-year-olds -- interviewed in 2000-2001 -- were compared to results of previous groups interviewed in 1971-1972, 1976-1977 and 1992-1993.


The percentage of seniors who were still having sex at 70 rose in each of four categories, married and unmarried men and women.


The rate jumped the most among unmarried men, with 54 per cent reporting have had sex within the previous year in 2000 compared to 30 per cent in 1971. In married women, the rate rose to 56 per cent from 38 per cent and in married men it went up to 68 per cent from 52 per cent.


Modern day unmarried women fared better than their counterparts of 30 years ago, but still trailed in the sexuality sweepstakes. Twelve per cent reported they were having sex at 70 in 2000 compared to under one per cent in 1971. Beckman said those figures reflect a reality of senior life -- there are simply fewer men around.
The study classifies sex as intercourse between members of the opposite sex. So people who were having sex with a same-sex partner or indulging in non-penetrative sex are not reflected in the percentages of people reporting they were having sex.


Of those who were sexually active, 31 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women reported having sex once a week or more, compared to 10 per cent of men and nine per cent of women in 1971.
The latter day seniors felt more positive about sexuality in old age than those asked at the dawn of the 1970s, with 97 per cent of men and 93 per cent of women reporting positive attitudes. In 1971 those figures were 82 per cent for men and 65 per cent for women.


Of those who were sexually active, 71 per cent of men said they got a high degree of satisfaction from their sex life, compared to 58 per cent in 1976. And among women, 62 per cent had high satisfaction levels, compared to 41 per cent in 1976.

The percentage of men who reported low or no satisfaction rose, however, to eight per cent from two per cent in the mid-1970s. Beckman said he couldn't say why, though it may be more socially acceptable to admit sexual dissatisfaction now than in previous times.


Rates of erectile dysfunction declined -- the authors say they don't know if Viagra-like drugs are the reason -- but rates of ejaculatory dysfunction went up.
The satisfaction trend went in the opposite direction for women, with only 10 per cent saying they had low or no satisfaction in 2000 compared to 39 per cent in 1976.


Other studies have suggested that people who have a good sex life when they are younger continue to have a good sex life as they age and that may in part explain the change in outlook among senior women, Beckman said.
"Because the last group of women, they were young in the '60s. They could have contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices and so on, and didn't need to fear pregnancy, as all the other groups (before them) did."


Divorce may also be playing a role, he said, noting more of the seniors had divorced and remarried than in earlier stages of the study. He said the researchers want to see whether happy second (or third or more) marriages were more likely to lead to active and satisfying sex lives among seniors as compared to those who lived in times when it was less socially acceptable to end an unhappy marriage.


The study noted that whether senior couple continued to be sexually active seemed to depend on the men. In her editorial, Kleinplatz suggested the attitudes of the 1960s and 70s that seem to have influenced the women's enjoyment of sex haven't changed everything about sexual dynamics.
 

Last Updated on Monday, 24 February 2014 18:15  

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