Healthy sexual aging: Sexual activity and satisfaction in older partnered heterosexual adults from four European countries
Appears in the following Collection
- Psykologisk institutt 
AbstractThe content and experience of partnered sex may likely change as couples age, which can lead to sexual distress but also greater intimacy and sexual quality (Lodge & Umberson, 2012). The overall purpose of this thesis is to explore what sociocultural and interpersonal mechanisms and predictors add to healthy sexual aging in partnered heterosexual adults aged 60–75 years from four European countries (Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal). In the first study, we examine the relative influence of biopsychosocial factors on sexual intercourse frequency among partnered older men and women in northern (Norway & Denmark), central (Belgium), and southern (Portugal) Europe. The results show that older adults tend to have more intercourse activity when they have positive attitudes towards sexuality and when they perceive that their partner is not troubled with sexual difficulties. Even though we did expect to find substantial cross-country and gender disparities in predictors and their relative strengths, our findings imply more similarities than differences. In the second study, the aim is to explore the underlying mechanisms between perceived discrepancy in sexual interest and sexual satisfaction in older partnered men and women. The results show that as older men and women perceive greater discrepancy between their own sexual interest and that of their partner, they report lower sexual intercourse activity and less sexual intimacy––which in turn lowers their sexual satisfaction. These psychosocial and interpersonal mechanisms are valid in both aging men and women. In the third study, we investigate the relationship between two sexual discrepancy concepts (actual versus perceived discrepancy in sexual interest) and sexual satisfaction in older couples. The results show that partners who perceive greater discrepancy between their own sexual interest and that of their partners tend to be less sexually satisfied ––actual discrepancy within couples plays no important role for partners’ sexual satisfaction. However, greater emotional intimacy predicts higher sexual satisfaction in both male and female partners. These findings suggest that while emotional intimacy may facilitate healthy sexual aging, perceived discrepancy in sexual interest may be an important obstacle. Overall, along with recent literature, our findings suggest that it is both an intra- and interpersonal pathway that may constitute healthy sexual aging. Particularly, an active and satisfying sex life rests on a couples’ mutual resources, such as having positive sexual attitudes, perceiving sexual compatibility, feeling emotionally and sexually connected, and having access to a healthy partner.
List of papers
|Paper Ⅰ: Fischer, N., Træen, B., & Hald, G. M. (2018). Predicting partnered sexual activity among older adults in four European countries: The role of attitudes, health, and relationship factors. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 1–19. DOI: 10.1080/14681994.2018.1468560. The article is not available in DUO due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/14681994.2018.1468560|
|Paper Ⅱ: Fischer, N., Træen, B., Štulhofer, A., & Hald, G. M. (2019). Mechanisms underlying the association between perceived discrepancy in sexual interest and sexual satisfaction among partnered older adults in four European countries. European Journal of Ageing, 1–12. DOI: 10.1007/s10433-019-00541-x. The article is included in the thesis. Also available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-019-00541-x|
|Paper Ⅲ: Fischer, N., Štulhofer, A., Hald, G. M., Carvalheira, A. A., & Træen, B. (2020). Sexual satisfaction in older heterosexual couples from four European countries: Exploring the roles of actual and perceived discrepancy in sexual interest. Journal of Sex Research. DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2020.1809615. The paper is included in the thesis. Also available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2020.1809615|