Active Aging | Opinion

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A recent survey in the United Kingdom revealed that older gay and bisexual men are more sexually active than straight men of a similar age.

As told by Donald Padgett in, the University of East Anglia study, “The relationship between age and sex partner counts during the mpox outbreak in the UK, 2022,” surveyed 5,164 British people during the recent outbreak of monkeypox (mpox), including 1,036 men who has sex with men. The survey included 1,036 men who have sex with men (MSM). “Most respondents had zero or one recent partner, all distributions were skewed,” the study observed. “There was a relatively linear declining relationship between age and partner counts for heterosexual partnership groups, but a peak in partner counts and concurrency for MSMs in middle age years (age 35–54), especially for MSM who seemed to be in a highly sexually active subgroup.” 

“Before this study, many models about sexually transmitted diseases assumed that everyone over a certain age – say 40 or 65 – stopped being sexually active, or at least stopped having multiple partners. Or there might be an assumption that young people have the most sex,” Dr. Julii Brainard of the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School and lead researcher on the study, said in a statement. “But the answer is more nuanced, and it partly depends on people’s sexuality.” For example, the survey found MSM aged 70 and above had a comparably more active sex life, especially those who were recruited via Grindr. 

Living among one of the largest concentrations of eldergays in America, I know a bit about the sex lives of older gay or bisexual men. Thanks to various medications, older men live longer, and continue their sex lives well into their 70s or 80s. On the other hand, we should not exaggerate the results of the East Anglia Survey. There are many eldergays who never use Grindr, who are in monogamous relationships or are happily celibate. On the other hand, there are many older heterosexuals whose sex lives are at least equally active. To give an example, the randy seniors at the Villages, the retirement community north of Orlando, are so heterosexually active that their home is known as the STD Capitol of the U.S. On the other hand, gay men have sex with other men; and males are more likely to indulge in quick or anonymous sex than their female counterparts. 

Brainard admits the results of the study require further examination. The results challenged common assumptions about sexual activity and require further examination. “It would be interesting to see if these findings were replicated if we targeted heterosexuals most likely to practice partner concurrency,” Brainard said. “Models of disease spread shouldn’t assume that young people are necessarily most at risk or that having multiple partners just stops happening at a strict age threshold.” 


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