Is Sex the Secret to a Happy Retirement?
Coming up a bit short on the financial side of retirement planning? Well, you may still be able to boost your odds of achieving a happy retirement. How? Have more sex.
That’s right. A few years ago at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, a Florida A&M professor presented research showing a relationship between the frequency at which people 65 and older have sex and satisfaction in retirement. Specifically, the paper (“Sex and Older Americans: Exploring the Relationship Between Frequency of Sexual Activity and Happiness”) notes that those who had sex more often tended to have a happier retirement, even after allowing for their age, gender, health and finances.
I don’t want to get into graphic details. But I will say that the definition of what constitutes sex for the purposes of the study was pretty comprehensive, including activity former president Clinton claimed didn’t rise to the level of sexual relations. And when it came to gauging how often the retirees had engaged in sex over the previous 12 months, let’s just say they options ranged from “not at all” to “more than three times a week.”
Based on the responses of the 550 individuals 65 and older in the study, there was clearly a relationship between frequency of sex and overall retirement satisfaction.
Only 32% of those who reported no sexual activity in the previous 12 months said they were very happy with life in general. By contrast, almost 38% who engaged in sexual activity at least once or twice over the past 12 months said they were very happy, and more than 50% who had sex more than once a month reported they were very happy.
The relationship between sex and happiness wasn’t quite as strong among the 238 married people in the study, but the basic relationship—the more sex, the more likely one reported being very happy—still held. What’s more, those who were married and had sex more often were also more likely to feel very good about their marriage than those married people who had sex less frequently.
So what role, if any, should this research play in your retirement planning?
Well, I don’t think you can say this study definitely proves that having more sex will make you happier in retirement. Maybe the relationship goes the other way: Maybe retirees who are happier for whatever reason are just more likely to have sex.
And even if more sex does lead to greater retirement happiness, I certainly wouldn’t recommend that any individual or couple revise their sexual behavior for this goal alone. What works for others may not be right for you. Obviously, this is a very private matter.
Then again, if there’s even a small chance that more sex could increase your chances of having a happy retirement, then perhaps you owe it to yourself to at least consider the possibility. (7/14/14)
Walter Updegrave is the editor of RealDealRetirement.com. If you have a question on retirement or investing that you would like Walter to answer online, send it to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.