Ninety-three-year-old actress Betty White loves to talk about sex: "I may be a senior, but so what?I'm still hot." Most likely she'd applaud the recent research published in The Archives of Sexual Behavior that busts the stereotype of the sexless older adult.The findings, which were published online in the journal In one study, researchers analyzed survey responses about sexual frequency and general happiness from more than 25,000 Americans (11,285 men, 14,225 women) who took the General Social Survey from 1989 to 2012.The biennial survey, conducted by the University of Chicago, has a nationally representative sample and covers a wide range of sociological issues, including opinions about race relations, religion and sex.For couples, happiness tended to increase with more frequent sex, but this is no longer true after couples report engaging in sex more than once a week.This study and other previous studies report that established couples tend to have sex about once a week on average.About half enjoy such simple nurturing activities at least weekly, although those with a regular partner are much more likely to report such frequency. To put it mildly, financial stress is probably hitting midlifers below the belt."Financial worries tend to seep into all parts of a couple's life together," says Dr.
The numbers drop off somewhat with time: for couples who had been together 10 years or longer, 11 percent of the gay couples, 18 percent of the heterosexual couples, and 1 percent of the lesbian couples were having sex that often.
In addition, these findings were specific to people in romantic relationships and in fact, there was no association between sexual frequency and wellbeing for single people, said Muise, a social psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto-Mississauga.
It's possible that for single people, the link between sex and happiness is dependent on a number of factors such as the relationship context in which the sex occurs and how comfortable people are with sex outside of relationship.
People may have good reason to worry about the amount of sex they are having in their relationships – having more sex is linked to positive outcomes.
In a recent study, researchers found that more frequent sex buffers against the negative consequences of neuroticism.
Researchers analyzed information about aspects of well-being from over 1,600 couples aged 57 to 85 who had been married varying amounts of time, based on data from the 2005-2006 National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. ) how often other people are "doing it," here's how the numbers played out: The average older adult who had been married for a year had a 65 percent chance of having sex two to three times a month (or more); after 25 years of marriage, that frequency was likely to drop to 40 percent.
After being married for 50 years, it dropped further to 35 percent.
In fact, the frequency of their sex lives continued to increase even after the 50-year mark.
Researchers noted, "An individual married for 50 years will have somewhat less sex than an individual married for 65 years." That's right—they said "less." The study examined trends in the frequency of sex of older adults.
But this study, based on surveys of more than 30,000 Americans collected over four decades, is the first to find that association is not there after couples report having sex more than once a week on average.
The study was not designed to identify the causal process, so does not tell us whether having sex up to once a week makes couples happier, or being in a happy relationship causes people to have more frequent sex (up to once a week).