Thursday, June 29, 2017 by Isabelle Z.
There is no question that sex can improve your mood, but now it appears that it can also enhance your brain power, particularly if you are above the age of 50.
A new study has linked frequent sexual activity to better brain function in seniors. The study, which was carried out by the U.K.’s Coventry University and University of Oxford, polled 73 people between the ages of 50 and 83 about their sexual activity during the past 12 months. Questions addressed how often they do the deed – never, monthly, or weekly – as well as their lifestyle and overall health.
Among the 28 men and 45 women who took part in the study, 37 reported having sex at least once per week, while 26 said they had sex on a monthly basis and 10 of them reported never engaging in sexual activity. Sexual activity for the purposes of the study was defined as “engagement in sexual intercourse, masturbation, or petting/fondling.” The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences.
The participants then took standardized tests that assess the patterns of brain function in the elderly, with a focus on areas like visuospatial ability, language, memory, fluency and attention. A difference was noted in two sets of tests among those who had sex more frequently: visuospatial and verbal fluency.
For the verbal fluency task, they were given one minute to name all the animals that came to mind and then asked to think of as many words that start with the letter “F” as possible.
In addition, they took tests that checked their visuospatial ability, including copying complex designs and drawing clock faces from memory. Those who enjoyed sexual activity on a weekly basis scored the highest on these tests. The strongest effect was noted in verbal fluency.
In contrast, the frequency of sexual activity did not appear to play a role in memory, language, or attention. In the tests related to these functions, there was no difference in the performance of participants related to how often they had sex.
While a previous study found that sexually active older people achieved higher scores on cognitive tasks than those who did not have sex, this study took it one step further to determine if the frequency of sexual activity made a difference. It also set itself apart by using a bigger variety of tests to look at different cognitive functions individually.
The scientists are not sure of the precise mechanisms linking sexual activity to brainpower, but they believe it could be related to the secretion of neurohormones like oxytocin and dopamine, which transmit signals to the brain. They suggest that further research could examine the role of the biological elements related to sexual activity in influencing the relationship between brain function and sexual activity.
If this news inspires people of advanced age to engage in more sex, they’ll be in good company. According to a study that was recently published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, while the frequency of sexual interaction among Americans in every other age group has dropped, people over the age of 70 have actually reported an increase in sexual activity compared to their cohorts in previous years.
Moreover, the National Commission on Aging states that most people aged 70 and older say that sex is more physically and emotionally satisfying than it was when they were middle-aged.
Better brain function isn’t the only reason sex in your golden years is a good idea. A study of more than 30,000 men found that those who had sex more frequently had a lower risk of prostate cancer than those who ejaculated less often.
If you’re a senior citizen and you want to keep your brain sharp, it’s time to put down the Sudoku and get busy!