Sexual interest and behavior in healthy 80- to 102-year-olds

Arch Sex Behav. 1988 Apr;17(2):109-29. doi: 10.1007/BF01542662.


Sexual interest and behavior of 100 white men and 102 white women ranging in age from 80-102 were studied using an anonymous 117-item questionnaire. Subjects were healthy and upper middle-class, and living in residential retirement facilities; 14% of the women and 29% of the men were presently married. For both men and women, the most common activity was touching and caressing without sexual intercourse, followed by masturbation, followed by sexual intercourse. Of these activities, only touching and caressing showed a significant decline from the 80s to the 90s, with further analyses revealing a significant decline in this activity for men but not for women. Except for past enjoyment of sexual intercourse and of touching and caressing without sexual intercourse, all analyses revealed sex differences reflecting more activity and enjoyment by men. Current income and past guilt over sexual feelings showed very low but significant correlations with some frequency and enjoyment measures, and marital status, extramarital sex, and church attendance were significantly associated with continuing to perform and enjoy some sexual behaviors. Past importance of sex was significantly correlated with present frequency and enjoyment of both sexual intercourse and touching and caressing without sexual intercourse. Correlations between past and present frequency of sexual behaviors were substantial and significant for all but frequency of sexual intercourse, suggesting that current physical and social factors play an overriding role in this area.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masturbation
  • Nursing Homes
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology