Most older adults experience sexual desire and engage in sexual activity, however, our knowledge about the sexual well-being (SWB) of older adults is still scarce. The present study aimed to examine the SWB of older adults as well as differences in their SWB based on gender and relationship status. The final sample consisted of 297 adults (149 men and 148 women) who ranged in age from 65 to 75 years; 63% (n = 188) were currently in a romantic relationship. Participants were recruited using the crowdsourcing platform Amazon’s M-Turk. Participants completed a background questionnaire, as well as measures of sexual behaviours (frequency of genital and non-genital activity and masturbation alone), sexual affect and cognitions (sexual esteem, attitudes, and satisfaction), sexual motivation (sexual interest), and sexual functioning. Our participants reported overall positive SWB; specifically, positive sexual self-esteem and attitudes toward sex as well as high sexual satisfaction and interest. Furthermore, participants who were in a relationship engaged in frequent genital and non-genital sexual activity. About two-thirds of the participants in a current relationship had experienced at least one sexual difficulty in the last three months, but only one-quarter were distressed about it. Although some gender and relationship status differences emerged, in general both the men and women and participants who were and were not in a relationship reported positive SWB. These results are discussed in terms of the ways in which they extend our knowledge on the SWB of older adults and challenge popular myths about sexuality in later life.


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pp. 86-98
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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