Breaking News in Urology

September 28, 1998

Half of Older Americans Report
They Are Sexually Active

Washington, DC, September 28, 1998 -- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has released results of an important survey on sexual activity in older Americans. The major finding: nearly half of all Americans age 60 or older engage in sexual activity at least once a month. And 4 in 10 want to have sex more frequently than they currently do. However, there is clearly a decline with advancing age: men and women in their 60s are more sexually active than Americans in their 70s (71% of men vs. 51% of women in their 60s; 57% of men vs. 30% of women in their 70s).

"This study underscores the enduring importance of sex among older men and women - even among those who report infrequent sexual activity," said Neal E. Cutler, Ph.D., NCOA's director of survey research. "When older people are not sexually active, it is usually because they lack a partner or because they have a medical condition."

Among respondents who said they had sex less than once a month, 54% of men and 44% of women said they have less emotional satisfaction in their sex lives compared to when they were in their 40s. They attributed their lower satisfaction to:

  • A medical condition that prevents them from having sex (51% of men, 12% of women);
  • A partner with a medical condition that prevents them from having sex (13% of men, 44% of women);
  • Less physical desire to have sex (55% of both men and women);
  • Medications that seem to reduce sexual desire (44% of men, 16% of women).

"Our study debunks the prevailing myths about sexuality in older years," said James Firman, Ph.D., president and CEO of NCOA. "For many older Americans, sex remains an important and vital part of their lives."

Complete details of the study are available online at:

The study was supported by Pfizer, Inc., the makers of Viagra. A USRF study of Viagra in treatment of male erectile dysfunction is scheduled for publication in the January, 1999 issue of Urology and has been pre-released in electronic form at : (to be posted soon).

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