Based on the survey responses of 238 married individuals age 65 years or older, the research showed that frequency of sexual activity was a significant predictor of both general and marital happiness. The association even remained after accounting for factors such as age, gender, health status, and satisfaction with financial situation.
Whereas only 40 percent of individuals who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months said they were very happy with life in general, almost 60 percent who engaged in sexual activity more than once a month said they were very happy. Similarly, while about 59 percent of individuals who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months said they were very happy with their marriage, almost 80 percent who had sex more than once a month said they were very happy.
To assess frequency of sexual activity, respondents were asked the following question: "About how many times did you have sex during the last 12 months? By 'sex' we mean vaginal, oral, or anal sex." To assess general happiness, respondents were asked the following question: "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days — would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?" To assess marital happiness, respondents were asked the following question: "Taking things all together, how would you describe your marriage? Would you say that your marriage is very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?"
The data analysis was conducted by Adrienne Jackson, PT, PhD, MPA, an assistant professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and was based on a public opinion poll conducted on a nationally representative sample of non-institutionalized English and Spanish-speaking person 18 years of age or older living in the U.S.
"This study will help open the lines of communication and spark interest in developing 'outside the box' approaches to dealing with resolvable issues that limit or prevent older adults from participating in sexual activity," said Jackson. "Highlighting the relationship between sex and happiness will help us in developing and organizing specific sexual health interventions for this growing segment of our population."
Jackson's presentation, "Exploring the Relationship Between Frequency of Sexual Activity and Happiness Among Older Married Americans," was at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 20, in room 103 of the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center n Boston.