Nearly two-thirds of adults 65 to 80 years old say they’re interested in sex, and more than half say that sex is important to their quality of life, according to a new poll that seeks to shed light on a little-discussed topic.
Forty percent of those surveyed said they were sexually active, according to the new results from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging.
“This survey just confirms that the need for and interest in sexual intimacy doesn’t stop at a certain age,” Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP, said in a statement from Michigan Medicine, the university medical center.
The poll, sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,002 people in October. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 to 8 percentage points. It’s the latest in a series of reports on healthy aging.
“While sex is an integral part of the lives of many older adults, this topic remains understudied and infrequently discussed,” the study said.
The poll found sexual interest diminishing in later years among those sampled. A third of the people in their late 60s said they were extremely or very interested in sex, but that number dropped to 19 percent for those in their late 70s. Sexual activity also declined, from 46 percent to 25 percent.
The poll found differences by gender. Half of the men said they were extremely or very interested in sex, while only 12 percent of women said they were. Seventy percent of men strongly agreed or agreed that sex was important to their overall quality of life, while 40 percent of women said it was. Forty-three percent of women were extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives, compared with 31 percent of men.
“Gender differences in perspectives on sex may result in differing expectations and challenges, even for long-term relationships,” the study said. “To this end, conversations about sex in a relationship are important.”
Other findings of the poll included:
■ Nearly three-quarters of the total group said they had a romantic partner, while 54 percent of that group said they were sexually active.
■ Forty-five percent of people who rated their health as excellent, very good, or good said they were sexually active, while 22 percent of those who reported being in fair or poor health were sexually active.
■ Eighteen percent of men and 3 percent of women said they had taken medications or supplements to improve sexual function in the past two years.