Hundreds of questions were asked face to face; others, like the number of lifetime sex partners and frequency of masturbation, were asked in a questionnaire, and 84 percent of those were completed. Most participants were married.
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But by the time they were 75 to 85, only 37 percent of women had spouses compared to 71 percent of men. Roughly 10 percent of those in the survey were black and more than 6 percent were Hispanic. The proportion of each gender reporting giving and receiving oral sex "matched up perfectly," Lindau said. Older people were generally sexually conservative.
A small minority had more than one partner, and very few said they paid for sex. Researchers also used state-of-the-art technology and products donated by several companies to test people's senses. Taste strips were used to see if people could distinguish between various tastes sour, salty.
Special devices were used to test the ability to smell certain scents, including a suspected pheromone - a smell thought to evoke sexual responses. Scents and tastes "get under the skin to influence biology," and scientists wanted to know whether these senses diminish as people age, Lindau explained. Niels Teunis, an anthropologist and researcher at the Institute of Sexuality, Social Inequality, and Health at San Francisco State University, said the survey bolsters the "use it or lose it" factor seen in previous studies.
If you slack off in marriage like when you're in your 40s, it's hard to pick it up when you are older," he said. Jack Menager, 83, and his wife, Elizabeth, 84, agree. The suburban Los Angeles couple say they have had a good sex life for nearly 60 years. It makes us forget everything - escape," he said, admitting that as physical endurance wanes "you have to work at it harder.
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The couple takes twice daily walks, drinks wine in moderation and talks a lot, said his wife. More men than women felt that way. Only 13 percent of men but 35 percent of women said sex was "not at all important. Menopause has a big effect on women, and the drop-off of estrogen makes many of them less interested in sex, Dr. But menopause also means women no longer have to worry about getting pregnant, and many have more time and feel freer after children are gone, notes Westheimer, the sex adviser.
At age 79, she said, "I don't ever answer personal questions" about sex. But she added, "I certainly have a zest for life. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser. See next articles. Some results: -Sex with a partner in the previous year was reported by 73 percent of people ages 57 to 64; 53 percent of those ages 64 to 75, and 26 percent of people 75 to Newsletter Sign Up Continue reading the main story Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box. Invalid email address. Please re-enter. You must select a newsletter to subscribe to.
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