A new study shows that positive perceptions of aging can benefit sexual satisfaction among older adults.
“There is a really strong and rapidly growing literature on perceptions of aging,” says Hanamori Skoblow, lead author of the study. Gerontologist. “We know that positive perceptions of aging can be really beneficial, but when they are negative, they can be really harmful.
“Negative perceptions of aging are linked to a higher likelihood of cognitive decline, higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease, and even shorter lifespans. We wanted to see how it would affect people’s sexual relationships. As expected, thinking positively about the way you age can also lead to a healthy sex life. ”
Skoblow believes the information could be used to inform doctors working with older adults. She says doctors, who are often reluctant to discuss sexual issues with older patients, reinforce their ageist beliefs that sexual activity is only for young adults. He also believes that sex therapists can see better results by promoting positive perceptions about aging.
Skoblow, a doctoral student in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Missouri, used a well-established database of information gathered from adults over 50 who were married or living with a partner and filled out a questionnaire about themselves. social structures and perceptions of sexuality.
The data allowed Skoblow to compare participants’ perceptions of aging with their sexual satisfaction in their relationships.
“We found that this relationship was strong between both men and women,” Skoblow says. “With data from more than 1,100 couples, we found that participants with a more positive perception of aging also had sex more often and were more satisfied.”
For the study, the researchers asked participants to strongly agree, disagree, disagree, or strongly disagree with statements such as “physical decline comes with age.” Skoblow would then average a participant’s responses on a single scale; this means that the higher the score, the more positive the participant feels about aging and compares this to the person’s responses to questions about sexual frequency and satisfaction.
Skoblow says there are several possible reasons why the perception of aging affects a person’s sex life.
“If people expect a sharp physical decline as an inevitable part of aging, it’s possible that they have progressive inhibitions. They stop having fun right now and may have less satisfying sexual encounters,” says Skoblow.
“We also know that western cultures often have many ideals of youthful beauty, so perhaps people with more positive perceptions of aging don’t quite believe in those ideals that cause them to have a more satisfying sex life as their bodies begin to change.”
Skoblow says this research is just the beginning. He also wants to examine how negative perceptions of aging form and how these views affect a person’s well-being.
Source: University of Missouri