Cross-sectional associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Hayley Wright, Rebecca Jenks

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

There is very little literature on the relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in healthy older age individuals (Hartmans et al., 2013; Momtaz et al., 2013). Given the wealth of research on the associations between physical activity and cognition (Elovainio et al., 2009), and with sexual activity and quality of life (Levine et al., 2012), the paucity of literature in this area is surprising. Using newly available data from Wave 6 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, the current study explores the relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in adults aged 50 years and over (n = 6833). Early multivariate analyses (ANCOVA) revealed interactions between sexual activity and gender, so subsequent models were constructed separately for men and women. After adjusting for age, education, wealth, depression, loneliness and quality of life, there were significant associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in both men and women. For men who reported being sexually active in the past 12 months, scores for both fluid intelligence and word recall were higher than for men who did not report sexual activity (both p < 0.001). Similarly, women who reported being sexually active in the past 12 months had higher fluid intelligence (p = 0.015) and word recall scores (p = 0.024) than women who did not report sexual activity. Possible mediators of these associations (i.e. physical activity, cardiovascular health, response bias), and the potential benefits of sexual counselling in older age (i.e. for maintaining wellbeing and cognitive function) will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event44th Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference - Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jul 20153 Jul 2015

Conference

Conference44th Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle
Period1/07/153/07/15

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