Sex and ageing: not done just yet

As you may have read on Friday, we came across an article on Vice last week in which the writer went around Melbourne asking older people if they still thought people their age were ‘hot’.

It was a great read, and it inspired us to create a Friday Flash Poll: Setting the record straight about sex and ageing, where we asked you questions about sex and ageing. It turned out to be one of our most informative and entertaining surveys to date.

Of the 1243 survey respondents, 59 per cent were male, 41 per cent were female, and most were aged between 55 and 74 (84 per cent).

And to put paid to the notion that hotness expires at a certain age, almost seven in 10 (69 per cent) still think people their age are ‘hot’.

When asked at what age they think hotness expires, almost four in 10 (38 per cent) said age is irrelevant, 15 per cent said 85 or older, and seven per cent said between the ages of 55 and 59.

A good sense of humour (16 per cent) is what they find attractive at their age, while kindness (13 per cent), a good talker/listener (12 per cent), good manners (eight per cent) and a positive attitude (10 per cent) were high on many lists. Intelligence and honesty were also popular responses.

As to what they find unattractive, negativity (20 per cent) was the most distasteful trait in older people, while personal odour (16 per cent), bad teeth (15 per cent), those who have given up on life (15 per cent) and a bad attitude (13 per cent) were close behind.

“When women are accused of losing interest in sex with their partner, a major factor is the partner who lets themselves go, as in overweight, bad breath, drinking too much, smoking, snoring, farting, refusing to help with housework, and then wonder why and complain to their mates about it,” wrote MareeIrene.

Around half of all respondents said an ageing body has little impact on sex drive, while 35 per cent think it does. Only 18 per cent claimed the body turned them off sex.

Almost eight in 10 older Australians still think sex, though not necessarily intercourse, is important at their age. Only seven per cent said it wasn’t, with 16 per cent saying, ‘not really’. As to whether sex needed to involve intercourse, 71 per cent said no and 29 per cent said yes.

While sex may be important to older people, it seems there are quite a few not getting as much as they would like, with 400 respondents citing zero times a month. The luckier ones are having sex one to two times a month (22 per cent), three to four times a month (20 per cent), nine per cent having sex five to six times a month, seven per cent seven to eight times a month and six per cent ‘getting some’ more than 10 times a month.

A diminished libido (21 per cent) is the biggest hindrance to having sex, with erectile dysfunction close behind at 18 per cent. Twelve per cent of respondents would have sex but they have no partner, eight per cent say their living arrangements get in the way while 21 per cent say they are still sexually active. Eight per cent said sex is not that important to them.

“When your partner reaches satisfaction with their life, they feel there is no longer any need to be attractive. Got kids. Got a secure future. Got all the money they want. Time to sit on the lounge and watch the soaps,” wrote On The Ball.

Diminished libido occurred mostly between the ages of 60 and 64 (13 per cent), with many others losing the ‘edge’ at 55-59 (11 per cent) and 65-69 (11 per cent). Still, 85 per cent claim they don’t use Viagra or a female equivalent to make up for this.

More than half (56 per cent) say they still masturbate, and 44 per cent say they ‘leave it alone’.

As far as dating apps go, only 23 per cent say they have or would have used one to find a suitable sexual partner.

“The love of my life (since we were both 16 years old) passed away nine years ago … can’t imagine sex with anyone else coming even close to what we shared. Sex without real love seems primitive to me … if I wanted it I could do so alone although I don’t and don’t miss it. I’ve had a few ‘advances’ from strangers while out and about with friends (compliments on my looks, apparently I still look attractive!) but don’t want them although I’m polite and grateful to all,” wrote Loloften.

While the numbers provided a fantastic insight into the sex lives of older people, our members’ comments were where the real ‘gold’ lay. The interactions between members about sex and attraction offered a glimpse into how older people view themselves and each other, and some fabulous advice was mixed in with the acknowledgment of the reality of sex late in life. We’ve included a couple of the more poignant contributions, but we highly recommend heading to the original article to read through them all.

“Sex or lack of it will drive people apart. Sex doesn’t stop at a certain age but unfortunately the lack of a sex drive seems to be from the female side – but not always. In fact, women are far less tolerant than men and more women will end the relationships sooner than men because they are not being sexually satisfied.

Sometimes it’s not really the sex for a lot of people but the affection and intimacy between two people that’s important. Just to be touched, kissed and fondled will do wonders and if one or both get their rocks off even better.

“Most men I know want affection, to be touched, cuddled in bed or on the sofa, a bit of play. But sadly, most women I know that have medical issues as you describe just shut the door and say no more,” wrote 1984.

“Looking at the results, I feel that many people are fooling themselves. It is a natural part of life/nature to have diminished libido and less sex drive as we get older. Look at nature, of which we are a part. It’s very clear, but our western culture wants to deny it, as it’s bad for business. We come into physical and reach our zenith of physicality around 30-40 years old. After that we slowly go back to spirit, where the veil thins and we become more aware of our essential nature. Everything is cyclical in this world of duality. Love is more important as we get older than sex,” wrote Franky.

And we really think this one is the perfect signoff for our sex and ageing poll.

“People’s own self esteem regarding their own attractiveness is the biggest barrier to enjoying intimacy. Everyone enjoys the companionship and sensual touch of a caring companion. Enjoy our bodies. It’s good for our mental and physical wellbeing,” wrote Bologo.

How do you feel about sex? Do you think enough is said about it? Or is it swept under the rug after a certain age? Would you like to see more information about sex and ageing? Why not give us some suggestions in the comments below?

Related articles:
Sex secrets of long-term couples
Sex-drive supplements for women
Do sexless marriages survive?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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