Never kiss your sex life goodbye

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The Independent Online

Anyone who imagined that once you got to 60 you could kiss goodbye to a sex life has been proved totally wrong by the anecdotal evidence from our sex survey. Sure, some people are winding down: "As one ages it is still not really clear what is biologically normal. I find I have little desire any more," wrote one man. But 35 per cent of the over-sixties are continuing to have sex once or twice a week. (Prompting one 20-year-old I know to say, enviously: "Wow, can't wait till I get old.")

Anyone who imagined that once you got to 60 you could kiss goodbye to a sex life has been proved totally wrong by the anecdotal evidence from our sex survey. Sure, some people are winding down: "As one ages it is still not really clear what is biologically normal. I find I have little desire any more," wrote one man. But 35 per cent of the over-sixties are continuing to have sex once or twice a week. (Prompting one 20-year-old I know to say, enviously: "Wow, can't wait till I get old.")

The fact that the vast majority of the older generation didn't start having sex till they were over 21, and that only half of our group had had between five and 10 sexual partners - tiny compared with the other groups - didn't stop them feeling that sex was important.

Although more of them can't enjoy sex without love, affection and romance than other age-groups, the oldies were also the group in which the greatest number of people - 17 per cent - felt that the orgasm was the most important part of sex.

Only a quarter would dream of having sex with someone else just to see what it was like, and the vast majority would never have one-night stands. They're also quite faithful - but not, interestingly, as faithful as the under-twenties. Some 45 per cent of the older people had been unfaithful - better than the naughty thirty- and fortysomethings, but still twice as many as their younger counterparts.

Talking about sex doesn't come easily to them, either to their partners or to other people. They do seem to be considerably more inhibited than everyone else, and when they have a sex problem (which they tend to have, understandably, more than anyone else) they would often rather wait for it to go away than seek help.

But with this slightly inhibited and sheltered attitude to sex comes one plus-point - they're far less likely to have contracted a sexually transmitted disease than any other age group.

Looking at the whole of the sex survey, perhaps three results strike me as most interesting. One is how promiscuous the under-twenties are, how happy they are to have one-night stands, and how early they have sex.

Second is how responsible they are, as well, in that nearly half practise safe sex. But the most heart-warming conclusion is the evidence that every single generation thinks that the sex they're having is the best ever.

Let's leave the final say to a woman aged over 60: "My husband was the first one I ever had sex with and we dated five years," she writes. "Our sex life has been wonderful and grows lovelier and better through the years. We have been married 43 years and have never been unfaithful."

All together now: "Aaaah!"

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