Grandma gets off

Seniors are having more sex, and better sex.

Published July 9, 2008 6:50PM (EDT)

You can't open a newspaper this week without reading something on seniors and sex. Much as their children and grandchildren may not want to hear about it, older people are getting more ass than ever before. A Swedish study shows a dramatic increase in intercourse among married and unmarried 70-year-old men and women since 1971.

But seniors aren't just having more sex, they're also having better sex. Women in particular are reporting more satisfaction than their 1970s counterparts, and, unlike earlier generations, they are equally as enthusiastic as men about sex. Older women are also having more orgasms. Researchers attribute the changes to Western society's ever-growing willingness to "frankly and openly" discuss sexuality.

But if one isn't careful, more sex comes with more sexually transmitted infections. A troubling new study found that the number of STIs among the over-45 set doubled between 1997 and 2003. Genital warts were by far the most prevalent, followed by herpes. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were also on the rise. Though STI rates also increased among younger people, the jump was more pronounced in the over-45 group. The study's authors blame the disparity on the intense cultural emphasis placed on younger people's sexual health, which results in a lack of information targeted to older adults. Come to think of it, I can't recall the last time I saw anyone older than 30, much less over 45, in a condom ad.

In other news, it turns out that having more sex can prevent erectile dysfunction in older men. A Finnish study showed that men ages 55-75 who got frisky once a week or more were less likely to experience E.D. "Regular intercourse has an important role in preserving erectile function among elderly men," Juha Koskimaki, one of the researchers, said. In other words, use it or lose it, gents.

By Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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