Sex in old age makes you look younger

2013-07-09 18:07

Having an active sex life when you reach old age may be the key to the fountain of youth, as research on senior sex reveals it can help maintain and preserve a more youthful appearance.

Those were the findings presented recently to the British Psychological Society by Dr. David Weeks, a British psychologist who set out to examine how regular sex in the Golden Years impacts health, concluding that it was essential for preserving youth.

Dr. Weeks conclusion is further supported by a 2008 study in Sweden that found the number of 70 year olds having sex – and reporting it as good sex – has risen significantly in the last 10 years. The study also found that an increasing number of older women reported specific satisfaction with their sex lives during the Golden Years.

According to Dr. Weeks, the key to looking younger is having an active and good sex life, including in old age. However, he added, society needs to have a more favorable perspective of sexual activity among the elderly.

So what makes sex so important?

It’s not just about looking younger. Sex can also be good for your health.

• In addition to making you happy – an essential ingredient for mental and emotional health – regular sexual activity can increase your lifespan. According to a study conducted at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, people who had an active sex life lived longer than those who did not.

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• Another health benefit of an active sex life is that it releases endorphins, which are known to boost mood and act as natural painkillers. On the contrary, abstaining from sex for a prolonged time has been known to cause anxiety and depression.

• Sex can also reduce cholesterol levels, and it benefit the skin by brightening it, as well as reducing the risk of contact dermatitis.

The problem with seniors having sex is two-fold, explains Dr. Weeks: 1) when people contemplate aging, their thinking tends to be driven by "negative stereotypes and ageist myths”; and 2) those who are most prejudiced against older people, know them the least. Misconceptions of like the latter are “the kind that generate irrational prohibitive feelings, making sexual experiences less enjoyable for both partners within a relationship."

So what matters most about sex, quality or quantity? Turns out the answer is both.

In a study on heart disease in 1997, researchers found that "the quality of sexual expression is a predictor of good general health and well-being". But the study also showed that men who had two or more orgasms a week had a 50 percent lower mortality risk than men with low orgasmic frequency.

Accordingly, Dr. Weeks warns against associating sexuality exclusively with younger people. He points out that sexual satisfaction is a crucial contributor to quality of life that ranks right up there with other moral factors, such as spirituality or religious commitment.

Elderly couples with active sex lives tend to be happier, researchers at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University reported in 2011 at the Gerontological Society of America's (GSA) 64th Annual Scientific Meeting, Boston.

SOURCES: 1. FPOP (formerly PSIGE) ANNUAL CONFERENCE & AGM 2013, “Sexuality & Identity in Older People”, Dr. David Weeks (presented July 4-5, 2013); 2. The British Psychological Society, "The Benefits of Sexual Activity Later in Life" (May 7, 2013)