Contact: Almar Kok
Although it is often thought that older persons are not capable to engage in or have a lack of interest in sex, many consider sexuality important and wish to remain sexually active as they age (Gott et al 2003, Jung et al 2004). Sexual activity has been demonstrated to decrease with age (Lindau et al. 2007). However, epidemiologic data about the experience of sexuality by older persons is scarce. In a multi-country study among midlife and older men and women, about 40% of women and about 60% of men living in Western countries considered sexuality important, and about 60% of women and about 70% of men derived physical or emotional satisfaction from sexuality (Laumann et al 2006). In other parts of the world, these percentages were found to be smaller. The experience of sexuality is likely to change over time, i.e., with ageing and over historic time. Little is known about such changes, their drivers, and their consequences in terms of quality of life.
Measurement instruments in LASA
Three to five questions about the respondent’s perception and opinion about sexuality were included during LASA measurements. On baseline of the first, second and third cohort three question were included: Q1: How did you experience your sexual life in the past (as an adult)? Q2: How important is sexuality for you now? and Q3 How do you feel about your sexual life now?
During the 4th follow-up measurement of the first cohort two additional questions were included: Q4 measured the respondent’s opinion about sexuality in general: “At this age sexuality is not important anymore.” Q5 assessed the current need for intimacy and touch: “Now that I am getting older, I still need intimacy and being touched ”.
LASAB120 / LASAE120 / LAS2B120 / LASAF120 / LAS3B120 (self-administered questionnaire, in Dutch)
LASAB120 / LASAE120 / LAS2B120 / LASAF120/ LAS3B120
Availability of information per wave ¹
|Q1 in LASA120||Sa||-||-||Sa||Sa||-||-||-||Sa||-||-||-||-|
|Q2 and Q3 in|
|Q42 and Q5 in|
¹ More information about the LASA data collection waves is available here.
* 2B=baseline second cohort;
3B=baseline third cohort;
MB=migrants: baseline first cohort
Sa=data collected in self-administered questionnaire
Previous use in LASA
Hartmans et al. (2015) showed with LASA data that higher cognitive functioning was associated with the way in which older people perceive or rate their current sexuality (Hartmans et al 2015). Furthermore, a study in men and women aged 55-65 years showed that the perceived importance of sexuality slightly increased over 20 years since 1993, but that this increase was limited to single women. Furthermore, there was a small decline in the enjoyment of sexuality (Kolodziejczak et al., 2020).
- Gott M, Hinchliff S. How important is sex in later life? The views of older people. Soc Sci Med. 2003; 56(8):1617-28.
- Hartmans C, Comijs HC, Jonker C. The Perception of Sexuality in Older Adults and Its Relationship with Cognitive Functioning. Am J Ger Psychiatry. 2015 23(3):243-252.
- Hyde Z, Flicker L, Hankey GJ, et al. Prevalence of sexual activity and associated factors in men aged 75 to 95 years: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2010 7;153(11):693-702.
- Jung A, Schill WB. Male sexuality with advancing age. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2004 15;113(2):123-5. Review.
- Kolodziejczak, K., Drewelies, J., Deeg, D.J.H., Huisman, M., & Gerstorf, D. (2020). Perceived importance and enjoyment of sexuality in late midlife: cohort differences in the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam. Sexuality Research & Social Policy. doi: 10.1007/s13178-020-00486-2
- Laumann, E. O., Paik, A., Glasser, D. B., Kang, J. H., Wang, T., Levinson, B., Moreira, E.D. Jr., Nicolosi, A., & Gingell, C. (2006). A cross-national study of subjective sexual well-being among older women and men: findings from the Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35(2), 143-159.
- Lindau ST, Schumm LP, Laumann EO, et al. A study of sexuality and health among older adults in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2007 23;357(8):762-74.
Date of last update: August, 2021