Health Fact: Sex protects aging brains

Friday, February 10, 2017

It is big news when we find validation for activities we think of as guilty pleasures or of taboo subjects. One such activity is having sex, especially as we age. I remember being mortified as a kid whenever the subject of sex was even remotely referred to in relationship to my parents. It embarrassed me to imagine my parents making love. It wasn't just because they were my parents. I think it was hard for me, like other kids, to imagine older people having sex. I think we thought that after the age of 40 you were too old to enjoy life and were supposed to give up all the fun stuff.

Now, of course, as we age ourselves and we are living longer, we are finding out our quality of life is improved the more active we remain and the more committed we are to living a healthy lifestyle. This activity includes sexual intimacy.

An active sex life as we continue to mature in life may have a protective effect on the brain, helping AARP-qualified people stay mentally sharp. In a recent study, British scientists gave more than 6,800 men and women between 50 and 89 years old a series of cognitive tests. The older men who were sexually active scored higher on number sequencing and word-recall tests. For women, an active sex life wasn’t linked to higher scores on the number test, but it was associated with a better memory for words, according to Reuters .com.

 “It is possible that our results may be related to hormones which affect the brain—and hence cognitive functions—in men and women differently,” says study author Hayley Wright, a researcher in cognitive aging at the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behavior and Achievement at Coventry University in England.. These findings don’t prove a causal relationship between sex and improved brain health, but researchers note there are other perks associated with physical intimacy, including stress relief, improved sleep quality, and a stronger immune system.

So now we know sex is an important part of a healthy lifestyle how can we feel more comfortable revving it up, especially as our body and minds continue to change? How can we successfully adapt? There are actually great resources and information available to help us find solutions and be empowered to take the next positive steps towards improved intimacy. One such great resource is from, in collaboration with Harvard Health. Check out their recent article Sex as You Age which provides tips on how to enjoy a healthy sex life as you get older.

Enjoy! And Live vibrant!

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