Americans have a wide sexual repertory and enjoy sex well into their golden years even if the older crowd sometimes take more risks, a major new study revealed on Monday.
The biggest survey in decades of sexual behavior in the US was compiled by researchers at the University of Indiana, who documented the sexual experiences and condom use by 5,865 Americans aged 14 to 94.
Pulling together all the information gleaned from their online survey, the researchers found a gender gap and a generation gap in the sex lives of Americans.
Although Americans remain sexually active “well into old age (80+)” only one in five men and one in four women over the age of 50 uses a condom, according to the study, which was published in a special edition of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Teenagers, meanwhile, are much more vigilant about condom use, if they are having sex at all — which a majority of US teens are not.
Among sexually active teens, boys said they used a condom 79 percent of the time the last 10 times they had intercourse with a girl, while teen girls reported their partners used one 58 percent of the time, the study found.
Having grown up in the era of HIV/AIDS, teens see condoms as a means of protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy, said Michael Reece, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at the University of Indiana and a lead researcher on the study.
Most Americans over age 50, on the other hand — and certainly those who are well into old age — no longer have to worry about pregnancy and see STDs differently from youngsters.
“To many older Americans, STDs are something soldiers returning from war picked up from a prostitute. They’re not acknowledged as such a social epidemic,” Reece said.
Times have changed
However, times have changed and not only are older folks more active sexually, thanks in part to the availability since 1998 of easy-to-take medications like Viagra for erectile dysfunction, but STDs are also more prevalent, he said.
“We may need to re-educate older people because as their relationships end or their partners die, if they’re dating and have multiple partners, there may be no danger of pregnancy, but the STD risk is certainly present,” Reece said.
As for the teens, Reece said they were “a public health success” and hoped that they would continue to use condoms as they get older.
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