Sexual Activity is Associated with Greater Enjoyment of Life in Older Adults.
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Background: Relationships among sexual activity, problems and concerns, and well-being among older adults have not been fully explored. Aim: To investigate associations among sexual activity, problems and concerns, and experienced well-being in a representative sample of older adults. Methods: In this cross-sectional analysis from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, sexual behavior, problems, and concerns were assessed via a self-completed questionnaire. Covariates included age, partnership status, socioeconomic status, smoking status, alcohol intake, limiting long-standing illness, and depressive symptoms. Data were analyzed using 1-way independent analysis of variance. Main Outcome Measure: Enjoyment of life was assessed with the pleasure subscale of the CASP-19 (Control, Autonomy, Self-realization, and Pleasure), a validated measure of quality of life specific to older age. Results: Data on sexual activity and enjoyment of life were available for a total of 3,045 men and 3,834 women (mean age 64.4 years in men and 65.3 years in women). Men and women who reported any sexual activity in the past year had significantly higher mean enjoyment of life scores compared with those who were not sexually active (men, 9.75 vs 9.44 [P < .001]; women, 9.86 vs 9.67 [P ¼ .003]). Among sexually active men, frequent ( 2 times a month) sexual intercourse (P < .001) and frequent kissing, petting, or fondling (P < .001) were associated with greater enjoyment of life. Among sexually active women, frequent kissing, petting, or fondling was also associated with greater enjoyment of life (P < .001), but there was no significant association with frequent intercourse (P ¼ .101). Concerns about one’s sex life and problems with sexual function were strongly associated with lower levels of enjoyment of life in men and to a lesser extent in women. Conclusion: This is among the first studies to show that well-being is higher among older adults when they are sexually active. Preferences regarding the expression of sexual activity differed between the sexes. Further longitudinal research is needed to confirm a causal association between sexual activity and well-being.