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Many Older Americans Have Active Sex Lives
Date:8/22/2007

'Landmark' study finds only modest declines, right up to the early 70s

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Many older Americans aren't letting age slow down their sex lives, a new study shows.

The first comprehensive national survey of the sexual attitudes, behaviors and problems of U.S. adults age 57 and older finds many are having sex often. In fact, the frequency of sexual activity dropped only slightly between the late 50s up to the early 70s.

And more than half of those in the oldest age group -- 75 to 85 -- who were sexually active reported having sex at least two to three times per month, and 23 percent reported having sex at least once a week.

"This gives us, for the first time, the most comprehensive and nationally representative data on sexuality for men and women and makes a particular contribution with regard to knowledge of older women's sexuality," study lead author Dr. Stacy Tesser Lindau, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of medicine-geriatrics at the University of Chicago, said at a Monday teleconference.

Lindau is lead researcher on the study, which is published in the Aug. 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"This is of extreme importance and a landmark study that hopefully will get the medical community and society focused on this in a less taboo way. It's a great start," said Dr. Barbara Paris, director of geriatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. "For most people, it's a shock to hear that people are having sex in their 70s," she said.

"This is a premier study," added Marcia G. Ory, professor of social and behavioral health and director of the Aging and Health Promotion Program at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. "It debunks some myths that sex and old age don't go together, and it places this in the context of health and health problems."

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