- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2018

Over half of older adults are having sex and the majority of those are enjoying it, according to a new survey on healthy aging in adults ages 65 and older by researchers from the University of Michigan.

Fifty-four percent of older adults with a significant other are sexually active, according to the study, and of those, 73 percent said they are satisfied with their sex life.

The report is the latest in a series of lifestyle and opinions of older Americans, of which previous reports have surveyed on topics of marijuana, prescription drugs and interaction with health care services.

The latest report surveyed a nationally representative population of adults ages 65 to 80 about their habits and opinions on sex and sexual health, with a total of 1,002 respondents.

At least 40 percent of this population are sexually active, nearly two-thirds of adults say they’re interested in sex, and more than half say sex is important to their quality of life.

Yet when it comes to discussing sex with medical professionals or taking medications to improve sexual function, this population is conservative.

Eighteen percent of older men and 3 percent of older women say they’ve taken medications or supplements to improve sexual function in the past two years.

Only 17 percent said they had discussions with their physician about sexual health in the past two years, and of those, most said they were the ones to broach the topic with their doctor.

“Sexual health among older adults doesn’t get much attention but is linked closely to quality of life, health and well-being,” Erica Solway, co-associate director of the poll, said in a statement.

“It’s important for older adults and the clinicians who care for them to talk about these issues and about how age-related changes in physical health, relationships, lifestyles and responsibilities such as caregiving, affect them.”

The poll was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, the university’s academic medical center.

Having sex was also associated with being in good health, with 45 percent of sexually active adults saying they are in “excellent,” “good,” or “very good” health. Of those that responded being in “fair” or “poor health,” only 22 percent are sexually active and 28 percent of that group said they were satisfied with their sex lives.

There were also sharp differences among men and women in their desire for sex and satisfaction.

Only 12 percent of women said they were extremely or very interested in sex compared with half of men age 65 to 80.

Women were also less likely to be sexually active than men, with 31 percent compared to 51 percent. However, more women answers they are satisfied with their sex life.

Regarding opinions about whether sex is an important part of a romantic relationship, 84 percent of older men and 69 percent of older women agreed with that statement.

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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