When a recent study revealed that baby boomers had more sexual partners than their children, millennials around the world may have been horrified at the prospect of their parents having more sex than them. But here at Huff/Post50 we weren't really all that surprised.
The myth of the sexless senior -- trapped in a bored, passionless marriage -- just isn't true. In case you missed it, Dame Helen Mirren says that she's having the best sex of her life now that she's in her 60s. And Florence Henderson says she's having the best sex of her life in her 80s -- thanks to a friend with benefits. Suzanne Somers, too, says the recipe to her successful marriage is, yes, having lots of sex -- twice a day to be exact.
Here are some of the most common senior sex myths that we need to stop believing:
Myth #1. Sex isn't as important in relationships when you're older.
Just because you've been with a partner a long time doesn't mean sex isn't as fulfilling or integral to a marriage. In fact, a 2011 study of married couples over 65 found that 60 percent of those who were sexually active more than once a month said they were very happy with life and 80 percent said they were very happy in their marriage. As for their counterparts who said they hadn't had sex in a year, just 40 percent said they were happy with their lives.
Myth #2. Sex becomes kind of "vanilla" as you get older.
Sex isn't just defined as intercourse for post 50s. A national survey of over 3,000 older adults found 28 percent of men said they engaged in oral sex along with 36 percent of the females. That's not all. Just under 30 percent of men and 16 percent of women said they had masturbated in the past year.
Myth #3. Older people aren't having sex.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. People are having sex, well into their 60s, 70s and beyond. Just this year, a new survey of over 7,000 men and women over age 70 revealed that over half of men and around a third of women at this age are still sexually active. One-third of respondents said they even had sex at least twice a month. (Not exactly the once-a-year anniversary sex you might have imagined). The survey was the first of its kind to include respondents over the age of 80. Older women often are less likely to have a sexual partner in these older ages to due to loss of a spouse, which may be why their activity levels are slightly lower.
Myth #4. Erectile dysfunction is inevitable.
Yes, men are more likely to develop ED with age, but it isn't just a fact of aging. According to the NIH, ED affects 12 percent of men under age 60, around 22 percent of men between 60 and 70, and 30 percent of men over 70. You can actually help prevent ED by making healthy lifestyle choices like getting half an hour of exercise several days a week and by quitting smoking. There are a number of diseases that can lead to ED by damaging the nerves, arteries and muscles, including high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition, ED sometimes can be a side effect of medications. Bottom line, do your part and avoid drinking too much while also staying physically active and ditching the cigarettes.
5. Sex is best when you're younger.
No, your best days aren't behind you. The best sex of your life could very well be ahead of you. Yes, we know some may look back fondly on their youthful, toned selves and the days of 20-something dating, but it's not how you look that makes sex satisfying. A University of California San Diego study of older women (average age 67) found that over 60 percent of these women were happy with their sex lives and two-thirds said they could frequently reach an orgasm. And according to sex researcher Debby Herbenick of Indiana University, it's easier for women to orgasm with age. In an interview with WomansDay, Herbenick said women in their 30s orgasm more frequently than women in their 20s, and women in their 40s and 50s orgasm more often than women in their 30s.
So you see? Aging is sweet.
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