Sexuality and aging in male veterans: a cross-sectional study of interest, ability, and activity

Arch Sex Behav. 1991 Feb;20(1):17-25. doi: 10.1007/BF01543004.


To gather data on sexuality, specifically in male veterans, and to test the hypothesis that aged males remain interested in sexual intercourse yet suffer from erectile failure, veterans age 30 to 99 were surveyed. The mailed survey had 88 questions and was pretested on young potent males and aged impotent males. From 1031 randomly selected subjects, there were 806 replies: 427 completed surveys, 247 refusals, and 132 who were too ill to participate (225 failed to reply). Among responders, sexual interest declined from a mean of 4.4/5 (4 = very interested, 5 = extremely interested) in men age 30-39 years to 2.0/5 (2 = slightly interested) in men age 90-99 (p less than 0.0001). Vaginal intercourse was consistently the preferred sexual activity; however, intercourse frequency was diminished from a mean of once per week in 30- to 39-year-olds to once per year in 90- to 99-year-olds (p less than 0.001). Frequency, rigidity, and duration of erections were less in aged compared to younger cohorts (p less than 0.0001). With these facts in mind, further research to bridge the libido-potency gap is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Coitus
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Libido / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penile Erection
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Veterans