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J Aging Health. 2007 Dec;19(6):921-45. doi: 10.1177/0898264307308342.

Sexual behavior in later life.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin, 1180 Observatory Drive, 2432 Sewell Social Science Building, Madison, WI 53706, USA.



This research tests the influences of age, biological, and psychosocial factors on sexual expression in later life.


The American Association of Retired Persons Modern Maturity Sexuality Survey collected data on diagnosed illnesses, treated illnesses, sexual desire, sexual attitudes, partner circumstances, and sexual behavior from 1,384 persons ages 45 and older. Ordered logistic regression models estimate the associations of age, biological, and psychosocial factors with the frequency of five sexual behaviors.


Diagnosed illnesses and treatments are generally unrelated to frequency of sexual activity. Sexual attitudes are related to frequency of partnered behavior and sexual desire is related to frequency of masturbation among both women and men. Satisfaction with the physical relationship with a partner is strongly related to behavior. Age remains significant after all other factors are controlled.


The authors conclude that the nature of sexual expression in later life reflects the interplay of body, mind, and social context.

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