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Study Links Good Health, More Sex in Both Genders

Last Updated: March 10, 2010.

Overall, men maintain an interest in sex longer than women as they age, but individuals of both sexes who are in better health in mid and later life are sexually active longer than their less healthy peers, according to a study published March 9 in BMJ.

WEDNESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- Overall, men maintain an interest in sex longer than women as they age, but individuals of both sexes who are in better health in mid and later life are sexually active longer than their less healthy peers, according to a study published March 9 in BMJ.

Stacy Tessler Lindau, M.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 3,032 adults in the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, 1995 to 1996, and 3,005 adults in the National Social Life, Health and Ageing Project, 2005 to 2006. Respondents were grouped by age and sex, and their responses compared for interest in sex, sexual activity, quality of sexual life, and sexually active life expectancy.

The researchers found that gender differences increased with age, with the greatest disparities in the 75 to 85 age group: being sexually active, 38.9 percent of men versus 16.8 percent of women; if sexually active, having a good quality sex life, 70.8 and 50.9 percent, respectively; and being interested in sex, 41.2 and 11.4 percent, respectively. Also, 55-year-old men in very good/excellent health gained five to seven years of sexually active life compared to peers in poor/fair health, while women at age 55 in very good/excellent health gained three to six years compared to peers in poor/fair health.

"Sexual activity, good quality sexual life, and interest in sex were higher for men than for women and this gender gap widened with age. Sexual activity, quality of sexual life, and interest in sex were positively associated with health in middle age and later life," the authors write.

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