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Satisfaction with sexual activity i. At three measurement points, —, —, and — i. Median levels of sexual satisfaction were reported, fluctuating between the measurement points of ages 63 to Between baseline, first and second follow-up no differences were found in levels of sexual satisfaction, though at measurement points age 63 and 67 women were more satisfied than men.
When measured at age 74, affection was given a higher priority than sexual activity. Although men and women reported similar priorities, sexual activity and affection were more important for men than for women. Satisfaction within the relationship can be predicted by the importance of affection, but not by that of sexual activity. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
The funders had no role in study de, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Cultural attitudes and concerns about sexuality vary between countries and even more so between Western ones and those of the developing world. In the former, sexuality and affection have long been looked at from a biomedical point of view . Findings about the negative influences of hormonal disturbances, severe illness or side-effects of medication seem to support the idea that the need for intimacy and sexual activity in older age is not so important.
Due to recent demographic changes, particularly with old age becoming a prolonged period of life spent in partnerships, the situation of the elderly and their perception of their health and partnerships became the subject of in-depth studies. Among elderly couples sexual activity and affection have an important impact on their physical and psychological well-being . Recent studies of elderly couples in western societies focus almost exclusively on their sexuality and their perception of it.
Affection has rarely been looked at. The findings with regards to sexuality concentrate on sexual intercourse, because of the assumption that most of the sexually active couples prefer this form of sexual activity . Studies using representative samples from the US population showed that among people aged 65—74 partnered sexual activity is more frequent among married men and women compared to those living on their own . Among persons with a spouse or in another intimate relationship, men are more likely to be sexually active than women. However, this gender disparity is considerably greater in persons living without a partner  , .
Also the decline in sexual activity over the course of life is more pronounced in single persons than in people with partner. The earliest s of decline in sexual activity in couples can be found between the 5 th aged 41—50 and 6 th aged 51—60 decade of their lives. In this phase a reduction both in percentage of sexually active couples and the frequency of intercourse in active couples could be demonstrated . This decline is closely related to physical and hormonal changes that can result in functional impairments. Further, social standards and attitudes to sexual activity in the post- reproductive phase have to be considered  ,  , .
Beckman et al. These apply to both unmarried and married persons . The second decline occurs between the 8 th aged 71—80 and 9 th 81—90 decade . In developed countries in this phase of life chronic diseases with effects on sexual functioning are widespread, for example hypertension and diabetes  ,  ,  , . Findings suggest that the risk of sexual impairment is greater in men than in women  ,  , .
Further, stressful psychosocial situations seem to be more frequent between the 8 th and 9 th decade of life, when periods of care delivered by one partner with subsequent lower levels of sexual involvement become more likely . Other than knowledge about sexual activity, very little is known about the intra- individual changes of satisfaction with sexual activity in individuals over 60 years old living with a partner.
There are only a few studies, mostly showing inconsistent . It was demonstrated that men with a regular partner at the beginning of the study period baseline experienced a bigger decline than men without a partner. This is most likely due to higher baseline levels for men with a regular partner . However, there are no corresponding longitudinal population-based studies of females in this regard.
Heiman et al. Their suggest a positive association between satisfaction with sexual activity and length of relationship in men; in women this association is even more pronounced. The of Heiman et al. However, the authors did not state whether sexual satisfaction increased with longer durations of relationships i.
The findings do not indicate a decline in satisfaction with sexual activity of men and women; however no indication with regard to stability versus decline was made. Recent studies regarding physical contact in older age focus mainly on sexual acts. Little is known about day-to-day intimacy of couples  , though it has been used to predict the perception of sexual activity: Heiman et al. Waite et al. The show that Within the ageing process the corresponding percentages decreased little: in men aged to 75—85 to In our study we considered intimacy as a special way of expressing affection short of actual intercourse i.
These expressions of affection include a wide variety of activities such as greeting the partner with an embrace, a kiss, a pat on the back, a cuddle, hug or a caress . Though sexual activity is often related to affection, the latter can also be found in day-to-day life without sexual activity. The purpose of this paper was to describe the subjective experiences of sexual activity and affection among men and women in Germany, born — and living in long-term relationships. Our assumption was that the process of ageing modifies social interactions and behaviours and the following become more important than sexual activity: physical closeness, being in an intimate relationship, belonging together and being cared for.
To start with we analysed the development of satisfaction with sexual activity from ages 63 to We then studied how affection and sexual activity were perceived by participants aged 74 years. Thirdly we tested the influence of person- and relationship-related items on the satisfaction with the partnership.
The importance of both sexual activity and affection predicts satisfaction with the relationship. Written informed consent was obtained from the participants. ILSE, an ongoing multicenter cohort study, commenced in , aimed at identifying individual, social and economic determinants of a healthy, ageing population. Inter- and intra-individual differences and changes occurring from middle to higher adult age are studied, as well as the influences of environmental factors, behavioral aspects, life-events, health behaviors and mental and physical health on well-being.
The de is based on the assumption that there are gender, cohort as well as systemic social influences. Two cohorts, pre-war born participants i. Both lived through their childhood and adolescence in very different times of German history and went through their developments confronted with important historical events.
Further, samples were drawn from West Germany region of Heidelberg and East Germany regions of Leipzig and Rostock thus enabling to study the effects of different political systems on processes of ageing. Participants were identified by using their postal addresses, randomly chosen from the official government registry after implementation of the stratification criteria sex and cohort membership.
As a result participants were recruited for ILSE, both cohorts comprised of persons. So far the sample has been analysed at 3 measurement points at which the participants were tested by multidisciplinary teams of medical doctors, psychologists, sociologists and sports scientists. Because the experience of sexuality in old age was a topic long neglected by research, it is worthy of a secondary data analysis. For this study data of the earlier birth cohort born — were used. This cohort was studied at three measurement points: first measurement point — i.
Only participants living in a relationship at all three measurement points and having provided a complete set of data about their sexual activity and affection at all three measurement points, were included in our study. At the first measurement point i. At the second measurement point i. At the third measurement point i.
Persons who lived in relationship are shown with a solid line. Of persons who lived in a relationship at MP 63, 67 and 74 years, we acquired complete data sets of men and 62 women. This sample of persons was studied. The proportion of men and women in our sample living in a relationship was representative of the German population  , . On average our female participants had male partners who were one year and nine months older. Looking at male participants, their female partners were on average three years and one month younger.
So, being widowed is a less likely event for men than for women. All of the participants had heterosexual partners and were married Table 1. Most of the participants were living in long-term relationships. Being married was not a criterion for participation. It can, however, be understood as an expression of social norms in the analysed cohort, for example the wish to legitimise a relationship by marriage. In addition, new relationships are less likely to be started by widowed women in advanced age .
In our sample of participants we found differences between men and women regarding vocational training and occupation, which are typical for this generation. In addition, a detailed biography was obtained at the first point of measurement. That included details about how the participants perceived learning about sexuality in their adolescence, their first erotic encounters and sexual activity, and their sexuality in the first years of their relationship.Women wanting sex Germany
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