A study recently published in the journal Sexual Medicine found that sexual intercourse is associated with a higher life enjoyment score in men. The research effort, led by Lee Smith from Anglia Ruskin University and Sarah Jackson from University College London, analyzed survey data from 6,879 older adults living in England. The average age of the participants in the study was 65.
The results revealed that older men who reported sexual intercourse during the last 12 months had higher life enjoyment than those who abstained. The same association was not found among older women, suggesting intercourse itself may be more important in maintaining well-being among older men than women. However, women who reported higher rates of kissing, petting, fondling and feeling emotionally close to their partner during sex, acts which the researchers distinguished from sexual intercourse with partners, also scored high on the enjoyment of life scale.
"Encouragement to try new positions and explore different types of sexual activities is not regularly given to [aging] populations," Smith, a lecturer of exercise medicine, wrote in a press release.
"The findings of our study suggest 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," he said.
Jackson also noted that encouraging sexual well-being in older adults is a "public health priority."
"We know that psychological well-being is intricately linked with physical health, and as the population continues to age, the burden on health services increases. If encouraging and supporting people to continue to enjoy a healthy sex life in old age could help to boost well-being, there may be benefits both for the individual and for the sustainability of health services," Jackson added.
However, the authors of the study also admit that their study, which consisted of anonymous questionnaires administered only once, is not foolproof; it is possible that men who enjoy life more simply have sex more frequently.