Research Suggests That Older People May Be Having the Best Sex of Their Lives
Older adults are not only still having sex, but it's better sex than ever before, a report says. Photo: Sami Sert/Getty Images
Longevity may be the most important trend we’ve ever experienced. It’s driven by — and in turn, it affects — everything from health to housing, money to technology, lifestyle to social policy. There’s so much to be aware of — and it’s just getting started! Now you can keep up with all the latest developments in this weekly column.
To the extent that we deal with sex and aging, the “news” seems to be that sex is happening at all. There are many reports — and I’ve certainly done my share of referencing or reposting them — that express surprise (mixed, sometimes, with a kind of grudging, “how-do-you-like-that” admiration) that seniors are still engaged in sex from time to time. It is as if their big achievement is to keep the topic alive, period.
But … frequency of sex? Quality of sex? Enjoyment of sex? Those questions are almost always assumed to belong in the past.
Or maybe not.
This report from the BBC asks, “Are Baby Boomers Having the Best Time in Bed?” and goes on to cite several research studies making the case that older adults “may be having more fun than everyone else.”
The money quote comes right off the bat:
“Multiple studies show people who’ve lived longer may just be having the best sex.”
A 2016 study of more than 6,000 adults in the U.S. showed a positive relationship between age and sexuality quality of life. Why? Older people had developed what researchers called “sexual wisdom” — a heightened ability to respond “as a considerate and giving partner.”
A study by Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz, of the University of Ottawa, and reported in 2020, showed that people’s “intimate lives” improved as they got older. “Typically,” she said, “the peak sexual experiences began in midlife and beyond.”
A 2018 study in Israel showed that adults 60 to 91 “had transitioned their focus ‘from lust to love’ and ‘from getting to giving’ sex over time.”
All of this suggests a much richer, deeper meaning to sex than just physical prowess or “performance.” The idea that it can take time to acquire the necessary “wisdom” is certainly revolutionary in this age of instant gratification. “This narrative shift,” the article says, “can help put the sex lives of younger adults in perspective. Instead of hearing the usual (and not especially scientific) statistics about men hitting their sexual peaks at 18 and women doing so at 35, these closer looks at older adults’ intimate lives challenge the viewpoint that a boom sex and dating life must achieved in a person’s 20s or 30s — or else they’ve missed their window. On the contrary, sex lives can be thought of as a holistic journey, one that improves with time and experience.”
There’s lots more in the article, and I highly recommend you read it.
David Cravit is a Vice-President at ZoomerMedia, and Chief Membership Officer of CARP. He is also the author of two books on the “reinvention” of aging. You can check out some of his other writing here.