28 Jun Frequent Sex In Older Adults Linked To Better Cognitive Function
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Hayley Wright BSc(Hons) MSc PhD C.Psychol
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University
Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement,
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Last year, we published a study that showed a significant association between sexual activity and cognitive function (Wright & Jenks, 2016). This study showed that sex is linked to cognition, even after we account for other factors such as age, education, and physical and mental wellbeing. One important question that emerged from this study was centred around the role of frequency with which we engage in sexual activity. In the current study (Wright, Jenks & Demeyere, 2017), we found that engaging in sexual activity on a weekly basis is associated with better scores on specific cognitive tasks.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: We have demonstrated that sexual activity in later life may have measurable benefits that stretch beyond pleasure-seeking. We – society at large, and individual researchers – should challenge notions of embarrassment around sexuality that may prevent older people from accessing help and support for sexual or relationship issues.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: It may be advisable to take relationship factors into account when conducting studies around cognitive aging. Researchers often make statistical adjustments for factors that are known to influence cognition and health (such as age, education and health problems), but actually, more personal factors may also have an effect on how our brain works.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: The research so far has been cross-sectional (or correlational), and so we cannot say at this time whether sexual activity is causing better scores on cognitive tests. This issue of causality is something that we will address in future research as more data becomes available. We are currently researching whether all types of sexual activities are associated with cognitive function to the same extent. We are also working with support services to address barriers to relationship and sex therapy for older people and marginalised groups.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Hayley Wright, Rebecca A. Jenks, Nele Demeyere. Frequent Sexual Activity Predicts Specific Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbx065
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Last Updated on June 28, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD