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Sex, Romance, and Relationships: AARP Survey of Midlife and Older Adults

AARP commissioned a survey on sexual attitudes and practices among the 45+ population in August 2009, similar to earlier surveys conducted in 1999 and 2004.

Results show that the sexual revolution continues in the older population as Boomers continue to age. Opposition to sex among those who are not married is down by half over the past 10 years, and belief that there is too much emphasis on sex in our culture today is down since 2004.

On the other hand, this push to a social environment that is more favorable to widespread sexual activity has run head on into an economic environment that is adding to stress and financial anxiety, factors which previous research has shown to be strongly related to sexual satisfaction.  Whether because of this environment or not, both the frequency of sexual intercourse and overall sexual satisfaction are down close to ten points since 2004, while the frequency of self-stimulation and sexual thoughts and fantasies have not changed.

Men continue to think about sex more often than women, see it as more important to their quality of life, engage in sexual activities more often, are less satisfied if without a partner, and are twice as likely as women (21 percent versus 11 percent) to admit to sexual activity outside their relationship.

This telephone survey was administered in both English and Spanish and included an over-sample of 500 Hispanics, for a total of 630 Hispanic respondents. A total of 1,487 respondents aged 45 and older completed the English version between August 21 and September 14, 2009; 183 respondents aged 45 and older completed the Spanish version during September 4-14, 2009. For more information, contact Linda Fisher at 202-434-6304. (100 pages)

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