June 23, 2017
An article in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences reported that older adults who regularly engaged in sexual activity had higher scores on verbal and visual perception tests.
The published study builds upon previous research from 2016 that found associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in seniors. The current study aimed to investigate how frequency of sexual activity contributes to this relationship and used a broader range of tests to examine different areas of cognitive function (2017; doi:10.1093/geronb/gbx065).
Inappropriate Sexual Behavior in Long-Term Care
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Total participants in the study were 74 adults aged between 50 and 83 (38.4% male, 61.6% female). Participants were asked to complete the Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination-III (ACE-III) cognitive assessment and a questionnaire on the frequency of their sexual activity (ie, never, monthly, or weekly), and general health and lifestyle.
Authors wrote that weekly sexual activity was linked to higher test scores related to verbal fluency and visuospatial ability. In tests measuring attention, memory, or language, participants performed just as well regardless of reported frequencies of sexual activity.
“We can only speculate whether this is driven by social or physical elements -- but an area we would like to research further is the biological mechanisms that may influence this,” said researcher Dr Hayley Wright, (Coventry University, UK).
“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.”—Amanda Del Signore