Frequency of Sexual Activity in Ageing Populations: Implications for Cognitive Function

Hayley Wright, Rebecca Jenks, Nele Demeyere

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background Previous research (Wright & Jenks 2016) established a significant association between sexual activity and cognitive function, in men and women aged 50-89 years. Objectives/purpose The aims of the current study are twofold: i) to explore whether sexual activity is associated with performance on a broader range of cognitive tests, and ii) to explore the role of frequency of sexual activity in the association with cognitive function; in men and women over the age of 50 years. Methods Seventy-three participants (45 females, 28 males) aged 50-83 years were recruited through local networks and organisations. Data were collected through face-to-face administration of questionnaires and a cognitive assessment (ACE-III), and analysed using multiple regression. Ethical approval was granted by Coventry University Research Ethics Committee. Design Predictor variables in this study were frequency of sexual activity (‘never’, ‘monthly’, or ‘weekly’), and key demographics measured in a health and lifestyle questionnaire. The outcome variables were raw scores on cognitive tests from the ACE-III, including measures of verbal fluency, memory, visuospatial attention and attention. Results Preliminary analyses show that increasing frequency of sexual activity (i.e. never, monthly, weekly) is a significant predictor of increasing performance on a range of cognitive tests. Conclusions Findings are discussed in relation to the underlying biological mechanisms of sexual activity that may influence brain function, as well as limitations posed by ceiling effects in available cognitive screens. We conclude that greater frequency of sexual activity is associated with better cognitive function in a wide range of tests, which has implications for sexual and cognitive wellbeing in older age.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2016
EventBritish Psychological Society West Midlands Branch Annual Conference: Sharing our Science: Celebrating Psychology - Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Sept 20165 Sept 2016


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society West Midlands Branch Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleBPS West Midlands
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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