A team of experts from Norway and the USA surveyed 1,185 men aged between 20 and 79, asking them about various aspects of their sex life, including drive, erections and ejaculation.
They found that although there was a strong relationship between a man's advancing age and his declining sex drive and ability to have an erection and ejaculate, there wasn't such a strong link between age and overall sexual satisfaction.
The men who responded to the Norwegian postal questionnaire were asked to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of their sex life on a scale of zero to four, with four representing good sexual function and no problems. Men in their twenties recorded an average overall satisfaction level of 2.79 and the second highest level was among fifty-somethings who recorded an average of 2.77. Men in their 30s only reached 2.55 and men in their forties averaged 2.72.
After the age of 59, overall satisfaction fell significantly to 2.46 for men in their sixties and 2.14 for men in their seventies.
However when it came to sexual function, each of the scores moved steadily downwards toward zero as the respondents got older, indicating lower levels of function and more problems:
- The average score for sexual drive was 2.19 out of four, ranging from 2.79 for men in the twenties to 1.54 for men in their seventies.
- Satisfaction with erections averaged 2.83, dropping sharply once men reached their fifties. Men in their twenties scored 3.63, men in their fifties 3.03 and men in their seventies 1.60.
- Ejaculation averaged 3.28 and showed a more measured decline with age, falling more sharply for men in their sixties and seventies. Men in their twenties averaged 3.85 while men in their seventies averaged 2.32.
Other findings included:
- 86 per cent of the men surveyed were married or in a sexual relationship and 57 per cent had been sexually active in the last 30 days. Six per cent had had a new sexual partner in the last six months.
- 25 per cent were on medication for high blood pressure, five per cent for diabetes, six per cent for anxiety/depression and five per cent for erectile dysfunction.
- Respondents were representative of the Norwegian male population in terms of marital status and education level.
"The survey was carried out using a questionnaire first developed and tested in American in 1995" says co-author Professor Sophie D Fossa from the Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Trust in Oslo, who carried out the research with colleagues from the University of Oslo, the University of Bergen and Harvard Medical School in the USA.
"The results showed a very strong correlation between men getting older and reduced sexual functioning, but not between age and sexual satisfaction" she points out.
"Age accounted for a 22 per cent variance in sexual drive, a 33 per cent variance in erection issues and a 23 per cent variance in ejaculation issues.
"But age only accounted for a variance of three per cent in overall satisfaction.
"Our results show that although men experience more problems and less sexual function as they get older, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are less satisfied with their sex lives as a result."
Notes to editors
Assessment of male sexual function by the Brief Sexual Function Inventory. Mykletun, Dahl, O'Leary and Fossa. Norway / USA. BJU International. Volume 97, pages 316 to 323. (February 2006).
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