Perceived Importance and Enjoyment of Sexuality in Late Midlife: Cohort Differences in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA)

Karolina Kolodziejczak*, Johanna Drewelies, Dorly J.H. Deeg, Martijn Huisman, Denis Gerstorf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Age-related declines in multiple facets of sexuality in later life are well documented. However, most studies have been cross-sectional with data collected at one point in time, leaving questions about cohort differences and interrelated historical changes in physical health and psychosocial functioning unanswered. Methods: We examined cohort differences in perceived importance and enjoyment of sexuality in late midlife using data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) obtained 20 years apart, 1992–1993 (N = 718) and 2012–2013 (N = 860), from two independent samples aged 55 to 65 years (both samples: Mage ≈ 60, 52–53% women). Results: Later-born adults in late midlife reported attributing slightly higher importance to sexuality than their earlier-born peers and experiencing their sex life as slightly less pleasant. Effect sizes were small at the sample level (d <.15), but substantial for certain population segments. For example, historical increases in reported importance of sexuality were especially pronounced among women with no partner (d =.56). When controlling for socio-demographic, physical health, and psychosocial factors, cohort differences in perceived importance of sexuality remained significant, but those for enjoyment did not. Conclusions: Late-midlife sexuality undergoes historical changes. Specifically, reported perceived importance of sexuality has increased over historical time, especially in particular population segments. Policy implications: We discuss whether our findings represent historical changes in actual behavior, perception, or the willingness to report on one’s sex life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

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