The Italian Almanac

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Old Pastime into Older Age

Sex continues to be a popular pastime for Italian couples well into older age, according to a new study, highlights of which were published this week. The research, which analysed the sex life of some 1,300 Italians over the age of 69, found that 49% of respondents with a partner and 8% of singles enjoy frequent sexual relations. Of those surveyed, 55% lived with a partner, while 45% were single or widowed, found the research, which was carried out by the Italian Andrology Society (SIA) and the Federation of Family Doctors.

''This is evidence that, contrary to stereotypes, healthy over-70s are in no way ready to cut back on sex in their personal relationships,'' commented Alessandro Palmieri, a SIA researcher. Despite the comparatively high percentage engaging in sexual activity, the study indicated that the actual desire for sex could be even higher, with many restricted by lack of a partner. ''This investigation reveals that, rather than physical age, an active sex life among the over-70s is closely linked to being in a relationship and the absence of dampening conditions, such as depression,'' explained Palmieri.

Confirming traditional gender expectations, the research found that men were generally more sexually active than women. Nearly two thirds of all men questioned between 70 and 80 were sexually active, compared to just under a quarter of women. Among the sexually active, most had relations around twice a week.