CNN – While previous research on sexual behavior and its potential risks has tended to focus on teens and young adults, this study looked at more than 7,000 men and women age 50 and older.
The researchers found some interesting correlations between the subjects’ sex lives and specific social, demographic and behavioral factors, which they say could help clinicians identify people at greater risk for sexually transmitted infections.
Men – especially gay men – have more partners
Men in this study were more likely to report a higher number of lifetime sex partners than women. Forty percent of men said they had at least five partners, compared with 24% of women.
Likewise, being gay was associated with having more sexual partners among men.
That’s not surprising, said sex therapist Dulcinea Pitagora:
“Because our culture socializes men — regardless of sexual orientation — to believe that they should be more sexually active, they may feel they have permission to be more sexually active, or they may feel like they have to present that appearance.”
In fact, “this is much more of a ‘male’ issue than a ‘gay’ issue,” added sex therapist Kimberly Resnick Anderson. “Men have ten times more testosterone than women (at all stages of life), so gay men share a hormonal push for sexual outlet, whereas heterosexual couples must contend with often discrepant biologic drives.”
For men, and older men in particular, economic status also seemed to increase the overall number of sex partners. That was true for both men in the top 20% of income and those in the lowest 20% . How Often Folks Age 50+ Have Sex, According to Science
Although that may seem odd, it may actually make some sense. Sex therapist Holly Richmond explained:
“Wealthier men have less stress about day-to-day necessities. There is more emotional space for pleasure and more time to have it, since they may not be working as much as a person with fewer financial resources. On the flip side, for men with less money, having sex with multiple partners may be a distraction from the social burden of having a lower income.”
Better body image, greater opportunity
The researchers identified some intriguing characteristics for women, too. For example, they found that women who were white, bisexual, physically active, or free of chronic illness were more likely to have a higher number of sex partners.
The latter three factors aren’t surprising: Regular exercise likely translates to a better body image — and, in turn, more confidence to pursue sex — while good health makes it easier to engage in sexual activity without discomfort … Read more.