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Sex and the Senses in Older Adults

Sex and the Senses in Older AdultsSo much of sex depends on the five senses. Seeing our partner’s smile, hearing his or her voice, smelling perfume or cologne – these are all examples of sensory input that can trigger sexual desire.

Sensory function can start to decline as we get older. We might become hard of hearing, or have trouble seeing as well as we used to. Do these changes affect sexual activity?

Recent research in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that they might. In a study of 3,005 men and women between the ages of 57 and 85, scientists found that people with sensory dysfunction were less likely to be sexually active. This was the case even when the researchers accounted for factors like age, gender, mental health, physical health, and partner availability. And the more sensory issues people had, the less likely they were to be having regular sex.

However, that didn’t mean that people with sensory dysfunction weren’t motivated to have sex. Most still felt that sex was important, and they still had sexual thoughts. Also, sensory problems didn’t seem to affect relationship satisfaction, emotionally or physically.

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