The idea that one's sex life slowly fades away during his or her autumn years has been challenged by a new study, which has indicated that a majority of Europeans keep getting it on even after retirement. In particular, a vast majority of elderly Danes aged 60-75 are sexually active, making them friskier, on average, than their European peers, the Danish science portal Videnskab.dk reported.
Out of roughly 1,000 randomly selected people in this age bracket, 78.4 percent of Danish women and 89 percent of men claimed to be sexually active, edging out their peers from Belgium and Portugal.
The figures came as a surprise for the researchers themselves. Bente Træen, a professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo and one of the authors of the study, found the figure quite amazing.
"There are many prejudices, as the elderly are seen as largely non-sexual. Movies and media portray them as knitting socks, not having sex. Sex is more 'reserved' for the young and the fresh. We researchers suffer the same prejudices," Træen.
Træen stressed that today's generation of the elderly was young during the sexual revolution in the 1960s, which saw the popularization of contraception, abortion and pornography.
Astrid Ditte Højgaard, clinical lecturer and chief physician at the Sexology Center at Aalborg University Hospital, argued that this is a result of Danish freedom and culture, as well as an indicator of the elderly's improved health.
"Today's 75-year-old is no longer like 15-20 years ago. Elderly people are physically more capable of maintaining a sex life," Højgaard told Danish Radio, indicating a link between good health and a prolific sex life.
Still, there is a more medical explanation to the Danes' sexual proclivity. According to Astrid Ditte Højgaard, today there is a much greater acceptance of medicines that facilitate one's sex life.
"Getting medical treatment for things that have a direct impact on one's sex life is no longer a taboo. For example, it may be Viagra or other potency medication or female sex hormones, for example, if you experience dryness," Højgaard pointed out.
Regardless of whether the explanation lies in improved health, the Danes' free spirit, medical treatment or something else, Astrid Ditte Højgaard found the development "extremely pleasing."
"I was very pleased when I saw the survey. Having a working sexuality is an essential part of a person's well-being. The well-being gained through sex is one of the strongest forces, and that means a lot for our happiness. There is no doubt that touching and caresses make you feel good. For example, you can see that diabetes improves if you have a well-functioning sex life," Højgaard concluded.
The study investigated the sex life of about 4,000 elderly people in four different European countries, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Portugal.