No One’s Ever Too Old for Sex: New Study Finds Highlights Benefits of Sex in Older Adults

By Lisa Franchi on June 27, 2017

Researchers from the universities of Coventry and Oxford found that more regular sexual activities are linked to improved brain function among older adults. Specifically, they tend to have higher scores in tests that measured their verbal fluency and their ability to visually perceive objects and the spaces between them.

For the study, participants filled in a questionnaire on how often, on average, they had engaged in sexual activity over the past 12 months, whether it was monthly or weekly. They were also asked about their general health and lifestyle. In addition, they also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults, focussing on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability, along with tests which reflect higher cognitive abilities.

The findings suggest that the more sexual activities the participants had, the more they are likely to score high in the tests measuring their cognitive abilities. But the frequency of sexual activity was not linked to attention, memory or language. In these tests, the participants performed just as well regardless of whether they reported weekly, monthly or no sexual activity.

This is not the first time that scientists linked sex with better cognitive performance. But the study is the first to look more specifically at the impact of the frequency of sexual activity. It is also the first to look at a broader range of tests to investigate different areas of cognitive function.

Researchers say further research could look at how biological elements, such as dopamine and oxytocin, could influence the relationship between sexual activity and brain function to give a fuller explanation of their findings.

"People don’t like to think that older people have sex - but we need to challenge this conception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and over, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general wellbeing." says Dr Hayley Wright, lead author of the study.

Source of this article:

Hayley Wright et al, Frequent Sexual Activity Predicts Specific Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B (2017)

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