Research on Older Adults & Sexual Health

Research on Older Adults & Sexual Health

sexual health issues A national sexual health survey, released in November 2014, examines the impact of sexual health issues on overall health, happiness, and communication among 3,015 US adults in committed relationships in which at least one partner was experiencing a sexual health issue. The study was conducted by Kelton in collaboration with the American Sexual Health Association, the Men’s Health Network, HealthWomen, and Pfizer.

“People are increasingly taking charge of their health in other areas, but that level of comfort hasn’t translated into addressing sexual health issues,” said Eli Coleman, PhD, Director, Program in Human Sexuality, Professor and Chair in Sexual Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota. “We see growing comfort with sex as a cultural topic, but people still aren’t talking about their own sex lives, which has important implications for their overall health and happiness.” Source

Key Study Findings

The survey included 3,015 adults aged 40-74 who are sexually active and in committed relationships where at least one partner is experiencing one or more sexual health issue. Key findings include the following:

  • 64% believe that their sex life influences their overall satisfaction with their lives; however, only 38% are satisfied with their sex lives.
  • Embarrassment and resignation prevent many from talking to their doctors (26%) about sexual health challenges they are experiencing. 37% believe that these are obstacles for their partners as well.
  • Fewer than one in four couples (24%) facing sexual health issues feel that they’re always able to be honest with their partners about their sex lives.
  • Men and women have differing priorities for improving physical intimacy. For women, priorities were improving their ability to achieve an orgasm (28% vs. 19% of men), emotional bonding with their partners (32% vs. 20%), and general enjoyment of sex (34% vs. 22%). Men are more apt to focus on their physical ability to have sex (38% vs. 22% of women) and being able to experiment (28% vs. 12%).
  • More than a third of those surveyed—aged as young as 40—are resigned to a worse sex life in 20 years, especially those who are already dissatisfied with their sex lives.


I wanted to share this with you because it’s so exciting to seeing scientific research applied to a) older adults and b) sexual health. We should be paying attention to research on sexual health–it’s a positive step for addressing concerns, helping normalize issues and encouraging us all to pay attention to our needs and those of our partners. Sadly only 38% of the survey population expressed satisfaction with their sex life. Clearly we have work to do.


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