While for older women being emotionally close to their partner is associated with higher enjoyment, for older men sexual activity improves well-being, says a study.
The study found that for older women, a greater frequency of kissing, petting and fondling was associated with a higher enjoyment of life, as was feeling emotionally close to their partner during sex.
However, there was not a significant association with sexual intercourse.
On the other hand, amongst older men, satisfaction with their sex life and frequency of sexual intercourse was associated with greater enjoyment of life.
The results, published in the journal Sexual Medicine, indicated that sexual intercourse may be more important for older men than women in terms of well-being, while women’s enjoyment more closely related to other sexual activities.
“If encouraging and supporting people to continue to enjoy a healthy sex life in old age could help boost well-being, there may be benefits both for the individual and for the sustainability of health services,” said Sarah Jackson, Senior Research Associate from the University College London.
For the study, the team analysed survey data from 6,879 older adults, with an average age of 65.
They found that older women and men who reported any type of sexual activity in the previous 12 months had a higher life enjoyment score than those who were not sexually active.
Previous research has also suggested that frequent sexual intercourse is associated with a range of benefits for psychological and physiological well-being, such as improved quality of life and mental health, and lower risk of certain cancers and fatal coronary events.
“The study suggests that it may be beneficial for physicians to query geriatric patients about their sexual activity and offer help for sexual difficulties, such as problems with erections, as sexual activity helps older people live more fulfilling lives,” Smith noted.