Overall, close to 49 percent of men aged 75 to 95 considered sex at least "somewhat important," and just under 31 percent had been sexually active with another person at least once during the previous year.
The study linked a variety of factors to a lack of sexual activity among older men. "Increasing age, lower testosterone levels, a partner's lack of interest in sex, or physical limitations, osteoporosis, prostate cancer, diabetes, use of depression drugs, and use of some blood pressure drugs (beta-blockers) were associated with absence of sexual activity," the team wrote.
Overall, Hyde said, the study suggests that health problems are the main reason why some older men aren't sexually active. "But also lack of a partner and decreased interest in sex for some people are important factors, too," she said.
The researchers took special note of the connection between lower testosterone levels and less sexual activity. "However, it would be too early to suggest testosterone therapy to improve sexual interest and activity in older men at this stage," Hyde stressed.
As for older women, studies have suggested that pain and lack of satisfaction are major issues for them, said Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, an associate professor who studies sexuality at the University of Chicago. "If men are having sex, they report satisfaction. That's not necessarily true for women."
Lindau's 2007 study found that only 17 percent of women aged 75-85 reported having some sort of sex over the past year, compared to 39 percent of men.
Were older men who were having sexual relations satisfied with how often it was happening? The new survey showed slightly more than half (56.5 percent) of those who reported having some kind of sex within the previous year said they were happy with how much sex they were
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