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Two-Thirds of Older Adults Are Interested in Sex, Poll Says

University of Michigan/AARP survey finds 40 percent of people ages 65-80 are sexually active

Sex Study

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Nearly 72 percent of the individuals surveyed have a romantic partner and of those, 54 percent are sexually active.

En español | Whether or not they have an active sex life, nearly two-thirds of older adults say they’re interested in sex. Men are way more interested than women, however, according to the results of a new University of Michigan/AARP poll.

Half of the 65- to 80-year-old men who were surveyed said they were extremely or very interested in sex, compared with 12 percent of women in that age group. In addition, only 31 percent of the women were sexually active compared with 51 percent of men who reported having sex. The poll did find that 43 percent of women are satisfied with their sex lives, compared with 31 percent of men.

The survey was part of the National Poll on Healthy Aging, sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center.

Overall, the survey revealed that 40 percent of individuals between ages 65 and 80 are sexually active. Nearly 72 percent of individuals in that age range have a romantic partner and of those, 54 percent are sexually active.

In addition to gauging the level of sexual activity among older adults, the poll explored to whom older adults turn for advice on sexual problems or for help with sexual health.

While 62 percent of older adults responding to the poll said they would consult a doctor if they were having a problem with their sexual health, only 17 percent had done so in the previous two years. And, most of the time the patients raised the issue.

“This survey just confirms that the need for and interest in sexual intimacy doesn’t stop at a certain age,” says Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP. “Although most older adults say that they would talk with their doctor about sexual concerns, health care providers should routinely be asking all of their older patients about their sexual health and not assume that bringing up the issue will offend or embarrass them.”

More than half of those surveyed also report that sex is important to their quality of life. “Sex and sexual health among older adults doesn’t get much attention but is linked closely to quality of life, health and well-being,” says Erica Solway, University of Michigan’s co-associate director of the poll.

The poll results are based on responses from 1,002 people ages 65 to 80. The margin of error is plus or minus 1 to 3 percentage points among subgroups.

A full report on the findings and methodology is available at www.healthyagingpoll.org, along with past National Poll on Healthy Aging reports.

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