Frequent Sexual Activity Predicts Specific Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2019 Jan 1;74(1):47-51. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx065.

Abstract

Objectives: This study replicates and extends the findings of previous research (Wright, H., & Jenks, R. A. (2016). Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age. Age and Ageing, 45, 313-317. doi:10.1093/ageing/afv197) which found a significant association between sexual activity (SA) and cognitive function in older adults. Specifically, this study aimed to generalize these findings to a range of cognitive domains, and to assess whether increasing SA frequency is associated with increasing scores on a variety of cognitive tasks.

Methods: Seventy-three participants aged 50-83 years took part in the study (38.4% male, 61.6% female). Participants completed the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination-III (ACE-III) cognitive assessment and a questionnaire on SA frequency (never, monthly, or weekly), and general health and lifestyle.

Results: Weekly SA was a significant predictor of total ACE-III, fluency, and visuospatial scores in regression models, including age, gender, education, and cardiovascular health.

Discussion: Greater frequency of SA was associated with better overall ACE-III scores and scores on subtests of verbal fluency and visuospatial ability. Both of these tasks involve working memory and executive function, and links between sexual behavior, memory, and dopamine are discussed. The findings have implications for the maintenance of intimate relationships in later life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*

Substances

  • Dopamine