More than a third of women and over two thirds of men over the age of 65 years are sexually active, according to a new study conducted in Spain.
The study, which is based on the National Health and Sexuality Survey involving nearly 2000 people, describes the sexual practices of senior citizens in Spain.
"This research lets us know the reality of a social phenomenon which is not tackled enough in Spain: sexuality and the elderly," Domingo Palacios, the lead author of the study from Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, said.
The results, based on the National Health and Sexuality Survey, in which 1,939 heterosexual elderly people participated in 2009, show that 62.3 percent of men and 37.4 percent of women are sexually active.
The most common practices are kisses, caressing and vaginal penetration. On the other hand, the least practised are masturbation and oral sex.
Furthermore, there are other factors that limit sexual activity in both sexes - being older than 75, not having a partner, having a low level of education, a poor perception of their own health and sexuality, suffering from two or more chronic illnesses and taking two or more types of medication.
"This can be applied to preventing illnesses and promoting health and healthy sexual practices," Palacios said.
He highlighted widowerhood and physical illness amongst reasons why the older Spanish population do not have sexual intercourse.
The authors note gender differences among those older than 65, with less sexual activity in women compared to men. They also note age differences, with better results for those aged between 65 and 74 than those older than 75.
The study has been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.