Today’s Solutions: April 17, 2024

Researchers discovered an intriguing link between regular sexual activity and cognitive health in senior persons in a study published recently in The Journal of Sex Research. Based on data from The University of Chicago’s National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSLHA), the study intended to determine whether older persons’ sex lives influence cognitive loss as they age.

Shannon Shen, an assistant professor of sociology at Hope College in Michigan, explains to PsyPost why she conducted the study: “I am interested in how social relationships are related to the risk of health problems in later life.” While there has been substantial study on cognitive decline, Shen notes that there is a noticeable vacuum in knowing how deep social ties may boost cognitive functioning in older Americans.

Discovering the cognitive advantages of coitus

The study included 1,683 people aged 62 and up who had comprehensive data on their cognitive health and were in some type of sexual partnership. These people were either married, cohabiting, or had a romantic, intimate, or sexual partner, which qualified them for the study.

The results were astounding. According to Shen’s findings, seniors aged 75 to 90 who engaged in sexual activity at least once a week had superior cognitive function than those who were less sexually active or had not engaged in sexual activity during the previous year.

The importance of quality and satisfaction

Notably, the study found that not all forms of sexual engagement are equally healthy. The quality of the sexual experience played a significant influence in determining the cognitive benefits of closeness for those aged 62 to 74. Those who reported happiness and enjoyment in their sex lives benefited from cognitive protection, whereas those who expressed displeasure did not.

Shen goes on to say, “For partnered older Americans, sex matters for later cognitive function, but this depends on age and aspect of the sexual relationship.”

The research also revealed the long-term implications of this remarkable link. Better sexual quality, which includes both physical pleasure and emotional satisfaction, was associated with greater cognitive function five years later in people aged 62 to 74.

This study offers light on the beneficial effects of regular sexual activity on cognitive health in senior individuals. While the study has several limitations, such as focusing on community-dwelling older persons and the lack of sexual consent questions, the findings provide vital insights into how closeness can improve cognitive performance in later life. This discovery defies norms and assumptions, prompting people of all ages to consider the value of nurturing personal connections as they age, not only for emotional well-being but also for cognitive health.

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