Who remains sexually active longer...men or women? Several studies have attempted to answer this question. Some are more credible than others, but all of them agree that there is a significant difference between the genders in their desire to remain sexually active during their "golden years." Interest in this subject has given birth to a seldom used, but potentially significant, new health metric called, "Sexually Active Life Expectancy," which caused us to want to know more. We found what we discovered during our research very interesting and think you will too.
Few if any Academic Institutions provide more meaningful longevity data than the University of Chicago, which is why we chose their study as the primary source for this article. Before we begin our review of their findings it is important to remember that sexual activity, including the desire for sex, can be a very complex subject regardless of your age, so the conclusions reached in this study may or may not apply to you. The study focused on two large surveys, the National Survey of Midlife Development, involving about 3,000 adults aged 25 to 74 and completed in 1996, and the National Social Life Health and Aging Project, involving another 3,000 adults aged 57 to 85, completed in 2006. Participants provided information about their relationship status and rated the quality of their sex lives and how often they had sex. They also rated the level of their general health as poor, fair, good, very good or excellent.
The study found that at age 55, men can expect another 15 years of sexual activity, but women that age should expect less than 11 years. Men in good or excellent health at 55 can add another five to seven years to that number. Equally healthy women gain slightly less, three to six years. In our view the most significant finding of this study is that even though the life expectancy of women averages 5 years longer, men remain sexually active for a higher percentage of their lives than women. Some of the more interesting findings that led them to reach this conclusion are as follows...
Older age men are more likely to rate their sex lives as good and are more likely to remain interested in sex than women...72% of men age 75-85 have partners, fewer than 40% of women that age do...among men 57-85, not living with a partner, 57% remain actively interested in sex...only 11% of women aged 57-85 remain actively interested in sex and this gap widens with age...a positive association between later life health and sexual activity was affirmed for both genders.
The study used the new "SALE" metric to add clarity to the findings. For example, on average 30 year old men can assume their "Sexually Active Life Expectancy" will remain strong for 35 years, but they can only expect to remain alive for 45 years, which may mean a final decade without sex. For 30 year old women "SALE" is about 31 years on average, but their total Life Expectancy is an additional 50 years. So 30 year old men can expect to remain sexually active for 78% of their remaining years and women will likely remain active for 61% of their remaining years.
We feel it is important to mention that these findings appear to center around the difference in the desire to remain sexually active, rather than the ability to perform. We are disappointed that Viagra and other advances that assist men in extending their ability to perform are not mentioned. Leaving us wondering what role they might play in this equation. Other than that we found the data the study provides interesting and very worthwhile...and we agree with the reviews the authors have received that these findings have a role to play in improving public health. Tom LeDuc