I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised by the British Medical Journal study today showing that a greater number of 70-year-olds are having better and more frequent sex. After all, on a recent visit home, I learned from my 60-something dad that he never has to roll out the trundle bed in the guest room when close friends of my parents come to visit. "Sally tells me not to bother since she and Jack are fine in just the twin bed," he explained. Jack and Sally (not their real names) are pushing 70 and have been married over 40 years, but apparently, they still like to spoon.
The Swedish researchers responsible for today's study interviewed a random sample of married 70-year-olds at various times from 1971 to 2001 and found that the share of those folks having sex increased from 52 percent of men to 98 percent. (Welcome to the age of Viagra.) For women, the increase was not as dramatic: from 38 percent to 56 percent—which makes me wonder where all these married men are turning for sex if not to their wives. On the plus side, the number of women reporting high sexual satisfaction increased; more women report that they have orgasms, and fewer say they never do.
I don't want to put a damper on the study's cheerful news, but I do wonder how it relates to a troubling report that came out last week that sexually transmitted diseases have more than doubled over the past decade in British folks over 45. Clearly, age offers no protection against genital warts—which accounted for nearly half the STD cases—or against herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, all of which rose sharply. Even HIV poses a threat: I previously reported that 15 percent of new infections occur in those over 50, so seniors need to take these steps to protect themselves.
The one reality highlighted by the new report that hasn't changed: Both women and men blame men when their sex lives come to a halt. And that's unfortunate, especially if there's no—ahem—mechanical cause. Perhaps some women are still old-fashioned when it comes to taking charge of their sexual health, preferring to remain passive players.