Sex on the Brain: Associations between Cognitive Function and Sexual Activity in Community-Dwelling Older Adults in England

Hayley Wright, Rebecca Jenks

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

The relationship between cognition and sexual activity in healthy older adults is under-researched (Hartmans et al., 2013). Given the associations between physical activity and cognition (Elovainio et al., 2009), and sexual activity and quality of life (Levine et al., 2012), it is hypothesised that sexual activity will be associated with improved cognition in older adults.

Using newly available data from Wave 6 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, the current study explored associations between sexual activity and cognition in adults aged 50-89 years (n=6833).

After adjusting for age, education, wealth, depression, loneliness and quality of life, there were significant associations between sexual activity and cognition in both men and women. Those who reported engagement in sexual activity over the past 12 months had higher cognitive function scores (word recall and fluid intelligence), than those who reported no sexual activity.

Possible mediators of these associations (i.e. physical activity, cardiovascular health, response bias) will be discussed. The cross-sectional nature of the analysis is limiting, but provides a promising avenue for future longitudinal studies. The findings have implications for the promotion of sexual counselling in healthcare settings, where maintaining a healthy sex life in older age could improve cognitive function and wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2015
EventAging and Society: Fifth Interdisciplinary Conference : Intergenerational Relationships - Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., United States
Duration: 5 Nov 20156 Nov 2015

Conference

ConferenceAging and Society: Fifth Interdisciplinary Conference
CountryUnited States
CityWashington, D.C.
Period5/11/156/11/15

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    Wright, H., & Jenks, R. (2015). Sex on the Brain: Associations between Cognitive Function and Sexual Activity in Community-Dwelling Older Adults in England. Abstract from Aging and Society: Fifth Interdisciplinary Conference , Washington, D.C., United States.